Your heating and air conditioning ductwork (also known as HVAC, which stands for “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning”) is a very important part of your home. Not only do these ducts bring warm and cool air to every part of the home when they are in good working order, they also play an important role in energy savings.
If the ductwork is not in good shape, your heating and cooling bills will be higher. Fortunately, it is usually within the capabilities of an average do-it-yourselfer to take care of his or her own ductwork.
On the other hand, maybe you want to install ductwork for the first time in an existing older home. This can be tricky, depending on the structure of the home, but creative homeowners can usually find a way to make it work. But first let’s look at what is involved in repairing and maintaining your existing system of heating and air conditioning ductwork.
Repairs and Maintenance for the Do-It-Yourself Types
If your heating and cooling bills seem to be higher than necessary, leaks in your ductwork are a likely culprit. When checking your ducts for leaks, first check the places where the ductwork joins. This is a likely area for leaking because the existing structure can be coming apart.
You can use duct tape for mending these leaks, but do purchase a good quality of tape because you don’t want to have to replace it too soon. Also, ductwork needs to be insulated if you really want to save money on air conditioning costs. For more robust leak mending on sheet metal ducts, sheet metal patches can be fabricated and attached with metal bonding adhesives.
Do you use your basement much? If you do, you may be enjoying warmer or cooler air as the case may be because of the leaky ducts! When you repair the leaks, you may find the basement warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.
Fixing the ducts may mean that you will need to find other arrangements for air conditioning and heating in the basement. The same could happen in the attic as well.
DIY Air Conditioning Ductwork Considerations
Doing your own ductwork could require building permits in the area in which you live, so be sure to check on that before you begin. HVAC ductwork is made from three different types of materials. They are sheet metal, insulated fiber duct, and insulated flex-duct.
The basement or crawl space and the attic are common places to run these ducts in older homes that were built before ductwork became a standard part of new construction. Any time you are working with sheet metal, be sure to wear sturdy gloves and safety glasses. Flexible ductwork is easier to work with than sheet metal and is already insulated.
Do You Need to Have Your Ducts Cleaned?
You may need to have your air conditioning ductwork cleaned out if you find yourself having health symptoms caused by dirty air. These would include allergy type symptoms. The main consideration is that the ducts are cleaned properly, because if they are not done properly, it could stir up dust and debris and make your symptoms worse.
Dust actually is probably not the problem if you suspect dirty DIY air conditioning ductwork is making you sick. The real culprit is either mold growing in the ducts and giving off spores, or debris from rodents or insects that might be living in the ducts. For best results, get a professional to clean your ducts.
Photo by Dan4th, Creative Commons Attribution