Are your ducts adequately sealed?
What’s out of sight is usually out of mind, and that’s especially true for air ducts.
“Most people don’t want to even look into their crawl space,” says Ahren Burgdorf with Day Energy Solutions in Salem. Yet the ductwork that helps heat and cool our homes and offices can leak over time; Burgdorf reports that about two-thirds of the homes he inspects need some improvement to the duct system.
So how do you know if you are wasting energy and money? Call a local contractor or your utility to receive a home energy audit, which are sometimes free. In addition to inspecting the entire structure, the auditor will be able to detect duct issues and show you pictures of the problems you are facing. These professionals can correct most of the leaks using a glue-like mastic resin. Larger gaps often require sheet metal – not duct tape.
“Duct tape works great for everything but ducts,” Burgdorf says. “That’s the running joke.”
Many homes in Oregon built during the housing boom of the 1990s came with flexible ducts, which are easily damaged, usually by rodents or water in the crawl space.
“Something we’re seeing a ton of in the last couple of years is animal-related issues,” Burgdorf says. “Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get one of those calls.”
Sealing ductwork is one of the most cost-effective energy improvements you can do to your home or office. And while you’re sealing your ducts, Burgdorf and the Oregon Department of Energy recommend insulating your ducts to at least R-11 (a measure of thermal resistence).