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Metal HVAC Ducts Are Famously Leaky

Metal HVAC ducts are famously leaky.

Metal HVAC ducts leak air.  Metal HVAC ducts leak energy.  Metal HVAC ducts leak money!

One example is shown in the photo to the right.

This is a duct in a house built in 1979.  The seams in the photo have been leaking for all that time.

You can see the stains where air has blown out over the years.

This is one of perhaps a few hundred places where the duct work is leaking - at seams and joints, where the ducts meet the floor registers, and inside walls.

Think of the energy loss over time!  Can you say "Money, money, money," boys and girls?

More modern duct work is flexible and insulated.  But even when metal duct work is used today it is sealed in two ways - with a latex "paint," which is more like peanut butter spread over seams and joints, or aluminum tape.

Either method works well to seal the duct work. 

Either method will save a lot of energy and money. 

Either method should be used to every extent possible with older duct work such as this.

Of course metal ducts are a favorite place for ghosts to reside.  My ghost friend Mosby, who seems to follow me everywhere, can be seen waving in this thermal image.

Really.

My recommendation:  with energy savings the little things can go a long way.  Sealing metal duct work will save on the energy bills, of course, but also will blow more conditioned air into the house where you want it.  The entire system works better and the house is more comfortable.  Doing so is HIGHLY recommended.  And ghost approved...

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 32 commentsJay Markanich • January 26 2017 11:44AM

Comments

This is great advice to save energy and be more efficient. Plug the holes

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Any way you can, Harry!  That's the idea.  Energy savings is often a series of little things that add up to big savings.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Wow, look at that ghost!

This is good information for those with metal ducts today - find and seal those leaks!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) almost 2 years ago

Mosby, The Gray Ghost, was a good looking guy, Kat!

I hope the information is useful, too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Jay tips to get ready for Spring. I will check my system this weekend for leaks. 

Posted by Frank Rubi, FrankRubiRealEstate.com (Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Frank - heating or cooling sealing the ducts is a big saver.   But home repairs are far more fun in the spring!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Good advice for all of us to share with our clients, Jay...I did not know there was such a thing as aluminum tape...I have seen duct tape used on the flexible areas only (unless they both look alike).  Something to find at Home Depot or Lowes I assume?

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) almost 2 years ago

May I instruct you further, Ginny?

That is a photo of aluminum tape on my furnace.

It seals the duct completely.

It's strong, sticky and lasts forever, unlike "duct" tape.  I put that aluminum tape on my system 19 years ago.

DO NOT use duct tape.  Duct tape is a misnomer.  (I feel a post coming.  Stay tuned...)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Good morning Jay. Gotta love that Aluminum Tape. It hides a lot of mistakes! Enjoy your day! 

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) almost 2 years ago

Now that would be a great use of that gray tape that people use for so many things,  I forget what it's called

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 2 years ago

Wayne - mistakes, and leaks.  It's a two fer!

Ed - that gray tape comes in many colors now!  And see my comment to Ginny, and stay tuned tomorrow for a post on it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Hi Jay,  I always enjoy hearing from the home inspectors on A.R.  They are full of great tips.  Thanks for the post about HVACs

Posted by Carol Williams, "Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services" (U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business.) almost 2 years ago

Well, Carol, may I suggest you subscribe and get some great tips more often!

Says he, with a smile and wink...

And thank you!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Amen to that!  As an EcoBroker and NAR GREEN designee, I'm a big proponent of sealing ducts.  Mastic works very well, but so does Aeroseal.  We end up with the latter in our homes with flat ceilings where there is no attic access to seal them manually.

 My home was built in 1979 with rigid metal ducts.  I aerosealed them and my bill dropped from July, 2016 $151.00 to August, 2016 $94.  A HUGE drop.  I must have had a big leak!  

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) almost 2 years ago

Dear Jay,

Do you like the insulated flexible ducts that have been around lately? Is there something like that for fresh air heat exchange? Maybe shaped like a yin & yang for maximum recovery?

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) almost 2 years ago

I soooo want a home of my own. And then I read a post like this and it is DAUNTING!!!

Posted by Lauren Williams, CPO, Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes (Casual Uncluttering LLC) almost 2 years ago

The ducts are not my forte, but I've heard this before, so you seem to be right on the money, Jay!

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 2 years ago

There are various ways to seal ducts, Jan.  And your sealing a zillion little energy wasters added up big.  These various forms of duct sealing work well, and save the green.  See my post today on duct tape!  You might be surprised...

Dorte - they are fine unless wrapped around a joist or rafter so tightly the slinky inside is crushed and they no longer allow air to pass.  I know there are heat exchangers out there, but  I have never seen one in use.

Lauren - homes are a lot of work!  I have posts every spring and fall on seasonal maintenance.  And if/when you own a home you should own a copy of my book on home maintenance!

Welcome aboard, Laura!  My intent to to instruct.  Which is why I come to AR - to be instructed!  All that improves my fortes...   ; >)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Great information!!!

With energy savings the little things can go a long way.  Sealing metal duct work will save on the energy bills, of course, but also will blow more conditioned air into the house where you want it.  The entire system works better and the house is more comfortable.  Doing so is HIGHLY recommended.

Posted by Sham Reddy, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) almost 2 years ago

Again, Sham, you quote me well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Great post, thank-you!  I was visiting with a friend last night who was talking  about her system not seeming to be blowing warm air where it should.  I will share this with her!

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) almost 2 years ago

Finding a guy like Jay Markanich when int comes to inspections makes the subject matter answer up instead of remaining a troubled question...Go Jay

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 2 years ago

Love your ghost and he and you are giving good advice to save money.

Posted by Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) almost 2 years ago

Jay does it make more sense just to replace old duct (70's ) era? I'm wondering what the cost (say an average size house of 2300 sf) would be to do so as sellers/buyers will ask about that.  Or is fixing the old stuff equally as good and perhpas less expensive?

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) almost 2 years ago

OK, you got me again.  I was walking around my basement (unfinished) last night checking for leaks in my ducts with the aluminum tape.  As if the honey-do list my wife gives me isn't long enough already.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) almost 2 years ago

Shirley - that could be due to a variety of problems!  Best to call in a pro.

Thanks Richie!  I love sleuthing out a problem.  And sometimes I actually come up with the answer!

N&T - years ago I took an image of me from outdoors, reflected in a window while sitting on a roof.  The image made me look cold.  So I wrote a ghost post about it, using Virginia folklore.  Tongue in cheek, of course.  You can read it here.

Anna B - that sounds like a lot of cost for not so much benefit!  I'd stick with trying to seal up the ducts to the best extent possible!

Stephen - I hear you can catch more vinegar with bees, or something like that, so don't worry so much about the honey when your wife gives you a list.  Did I get that right?  Geez, I hope so.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Another benefit to surf the AR on a daily basis to get information and gain knowledge. Aluminum tape, that's a tool that I must get for my tool box. Thanks for sharing. 

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) almost 2 years ago

It's cheap, it's good stuff, and it works as advertised, Kimo.  See also my recent post on duct tape!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Thank you so much for the good information, as well as the comments. Aluminum tape...What a good idea!

Posted by April Swenson, CRS and Managing Broker - Ocean Shores Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Ocean Shores Brokers) almost 2 years ago

It's good stuff, April.  I have two rolls in my house and use it for all sorts of things.

And it's probably recycled.  Aluminum was the second thing recycled in this country, somewhere in the 1870s.  Macadam roads (asphalt) was the first, along about the 1850s.

People think recycling is new and modern and green!  Not...  it's old and common sense.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

This is a reminder to have an HVAC tech take a look under my pier and beam house with latex paint and/or aluminum tape in hand.  Both products have been used to seal ducts in my attic.  Great information!

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) almost 2 years ago

Not a bad idea, Sharon.  And it's a latex paint of sorts, but not the sort that goes on your wall.  This is thicker stuff.  Your tech will know.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

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