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Ductwork Checkup – A Key Part of the Home Energy Audit
One of the primary causes for energy loss in the home is faulty ductwork or connections to the ductwork. That's not hard to understand when you consider the HVAC system is the largest energy consumer in the home. Many factors occur over time that can cause a duct system to become downgraded, but some systems aren't that great even when they are first installed.
Who Tests the HVAC System?
Many HVAC contractors do not take the testing of their system for leaks as seriously as they should. This may be due to the fact that many do not own the equipment for a pressure pan test, or they don't want to spend the extra man hours it takes to do the test. Either way, the homeowner is the one who pays the price for a faulty duct system.
It is really part of the responsible contractor's job to test the value of the ductwork before considering the job as complete. So, what is the best way to determine if the ductwork is any good?
Pressure Pan Test
The pressure pan test is one of the primary parts of an energy audit. It takes place along with the blower door test and simply lets the technicians know whether there are any major leaks that need to be addressed. Pressure pans measure a ratio of leaks to the indoors compared against those on the outside.
Some people don't consider leaking ductwork that much of a problem because theirs is in a crawlspace. However, even if the crawlspace is sealed as recommended, air loss to that space offers little if any benefit to the residents inside the house.
A high crawlspace can represent as much as 50% or more of the space in the home. Obviously, the amount of wasted conditioned air that goes under the house is a problem that should be addressed.
The HVAC Unit Itself
Ductwork is not the only problem that occurs with the heating and cooling system. If the duct system is airtight enough not to be an energy waster, the next step might be to check the unit itself.
If the unit is serviced twice a year as recommended, problems are usually minimal, but a slight leakage in the unit can develop quite quickly. A sudden increase in the monthly heating and cooling bill is a good sign that something has gone wrong mechanically.
Make sure the biggest energy user in your home stays healthy and running efficiently for the best savings on both energy and money.