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Air Duct Replacement & Maintenance VS. Cleaning: What You Need To Know

Air Ducts

In the average home with air conditioning units that use ducting, 20 to 30 percent of air running through the ducts is lost. This is due to holes, leaks, or improper installation and maintenance.

Not only does this affect your control over the temperature in your home, but it also has a daunting effect on your utility bills. The loss in the air can result in much higher bills than needed!

Which is what we are here to talk about today: Air duct replacement and maintenance. So, before you call up an HVAC company to clean out your ducts, there are a few things you should know first.

Let's take a look!

The Importance of a Properly Working Unit and Ducting System

If you have a properly working unit and ducting system, it is important to remember that they require regular maintenance.  What does this look like? Well, the entire ducting system should be maintained at least once a year by a professional. The reasoning behind this process allows you to:

  • Lower your utility bills (This is due to unwarranted energy consumption and waste)
  • It will help to extend your AC units lifespan (With proper maintenance you can increase the lifespan of your unit to 12-17 years)
  • Fewer repairs will be needed and better reliability for your AC unit
  • The cooling capacity and efficiency will increase
  • It will give you peace of mind so you don't have to worry about going without AC (especially during summer)
  • It helps to prevent the need for emergency AC repairs
  • You will get the most out of your unit with better efficiency and life

With so many benefits behind having an AC unit properly maintained, it just makes sense. It is essential for any homeowner to keep your unit running as it should!

Air Quality

Your air conditioner is an important part of having clean and healthy air in your home. With regular duct maintenance, you can ensure that your air quality is good and that your AC unit continues to run properly.

Your air conditioner works by recycling indoor air. Although your unit does not purify your air, it can increase VOCs and allergens in your home and make the air quality much worse if not maintained.

To make sure this doesn't happen, it is important to have your ducts replaced or maintained regularly. This can be done by having a professional check your unit on an annual basis (regular maintenance).

When your air ducts are clogged or dirty, it can cause problems with the airflow and air quality in your home. This can lead to a number of issues, such as:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy eyes
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Pneumonia

Any air conditioning unit that is not maintained can be a serious hazard, especially for anyone that suffers from allergies and asthma already.

It's important to make sure that your air ducts are clean and in good working order so that you can continue to breathe in good air quality. You can do this by having them replaced or maintained regularly.

Common Air Duct Problems

There are some common signs that you need to keep an eye out for when it comes to your AC units. Here are 6 of the most common air duct problems for homeowners.

  1. Poor Installation

When your installation or maintenance is done by someone other than a professional, it can cause problems. Which can result in issues like:

  • Poor airflow (A lack of airflow will make your unit work harder, resulting in lower energy efficiency)
  • Increased dust (Without proper cleaning and maintenance, dust starts building upon the interior of the ducts)
  • Mold growth (This builds up due to improper ventilation)
  • Lowered heating/cooling capacity (You get less out of your unit this way since it has to work extra hard with poor insulation and clogged air vents)
  • Higher utility bills (Your home doesn't stay cool or warm)

Always have your air conditioner needs to be done by a professional to avoid any of these from happening.

2. Improper Insulation

If your ducts are not correctly insulated, or not insulated at all, a lot of your money is going to waste. A considerable amount of heat and air can escape this way, so it's necessary to keep all ductwork well insulated.

If you just moved into a new home or looking to buy one, make sure to look at the installation and insulation of the air condition units. Otherwise, it could cost you in the long run.

3. Dirty Ducting Systems

If you have pets, children, or a smoker in your home, then you should take extra care to make sure your ducting system is clean and does not allow for the build-up of dust. Pet dander and human hair can clog up your air vents, making it difficult for the air conditioner to actually take cooler air from outside and dampening its capability to cool down an entire house.

Ensuring proper maintenance is going to be key to preventing this from ever happening. A big misconception is that homes should have their ducting cleaned on a regular basis. The truth is that with proper installation and maintenance, your ducting shouldn't ever have to be cleaned!

4. Bad Air Flow

Proper airflow is essential for optimal air conditioner performance.

If you have a dirty filter, broken unit, or ductwork that is severely kinked or twisted, it can lead to a lack of airflow and reduce the cooling capacity in your home. This results in bad indoor air quality and increased utility bills.

It's important to make sure that your system has proper airflow so that it can cool down your home efficiently. If you notice problems such as decreased cooling capacity, little to no cold air coming from vents, or high utility bills - these are all signs of an issue with your ducts!

5. Potential Duct Leaks

Duct leaks are one of the main reasons why it's important to have your air ducts inspected.

There are a couple of types of ductwork. Typically they can be made out of galvanized steel and aluminum. Installing the right type can help reduce potential leaks.

However, regardless of what material is used for the construction of the vents in your home, all types will eventually develop leakage issues if they are not properly installed or maintained. This results in lost heat and sub-par indoor air quality.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the average home is losing 20 to 30 percent of the air running through your ducting. This loss prevents proper temperature control and an increase in your energy bill!

6. Poorly Sealed

Improperly sealed registers at the ducting connection allows air to escape before it reaches your rooms. This also allows insects, rodents, and debris into your ductwork.

Air duct sealing not only has an impact on energy efficiency; it may also influence the life of your device.

All of these points show why regular inspection and maintenance of the AC unit is important.

Air Duct Maintenance: What You Should Know

It is a common misconception that you should routinely get your air ducts cleaned, but this will not actually help to make them more efficient. In fact, having ducts cleaned on a regular basis is not even necessary and is a bad marketing tactic by companies.

With proper annual maintenance, you won't ever need to have them cleaned. If they are in need of a cleaning, this is a sign there is an issue with your unit (such as a leak or kink in your ducts).

Maintenance from a professional HVAC company will usually include things such as:

  • Checking fins
  • Ensuring there is no debris or curved fins
  • Cleaning around the outside area of the AC unit
  • Ensuring the unit is level and not obstructed 
  • Checking evaporator coils
  • Checking evaporator drains
  • Changing blower filers

This among many other precautions and preventative measures will be taken care of annually.

How to Tell if You Need a Maintenance

While it may be difficult to determine when your AC unit needs maintenance if you are not a professional, there are certain signs that will help you know when it's time.

  • If your unit is blowing warm air
  • If your AC thermostat is not working
  • Little Air Blows Out of Vents
  • Noisy Inside the Unit
  • Strange Odors When Turned On
  • Not Enough Humidity Removed By Outside Units
  • The Problems Keep Coming Back
  • Any kind of leaks from your unit
  • Your bills have increased
  • Your unit is coming to the end of its recommended lifespan

If you are experiencing any of these, it's time to call up your local HVAC company to come out and inspect your unit. They'll be able to quickly find out if you need maintenance or if the unit should be replaced.

Keep in mind that regular maintenance should be performed on every AC unit to avoid costly repairs or issues.

Cost of Air Duct Maintenance

The cost of air duct maintenance will vary across the U.S. depending on the area you live in and the company you choose to work with. Some HVAC companies will also offer a discounted monthly rate for their customers.

With monthly air duct maintenance plans, you can expect to pay around $25-$35 per month.

With an annual plan, you can expect services such as:

  • Cleaning and inspections (twice a year)
  • Discounts on repairs
  • Discount on air quality products

When deciding on a company to go with, make sure to ask if they offer these benefits!

Air Duct Maintenance VS Cleaning: The Difference

Many HVAC companies advertise that you need to have your AC unit ducting cleaned on a regular basis. Although this sounds as if it's something you should do, the truth is that you should not have to have your ducting cleaned.

Dirty ducts can be completely avoided by simply having maintenance done on a regular basis. If you have dirt ducts, this points to the fact that there is an issue with either your unit or the ducts.

Is Air Duct Cleaning Necessary

With proper maintenance, no, air duct cleaning is not necessary. Instead, your local HVAC company should be sealing or replacing your ducting. If you have dirty ducts, you have an issue somewhere that needs to be found.

If you don't fix the route cause of the problem, you would have to pay for regular cleaning. When in reality, you can stop it altogether with an inspection and maintenance.

You can also get an AC Tune-up. This is a great way to extend the unit's life, save money on utility bills and ensure that your unit is properly running. Just like vehicles need a tune-up so does your AC unit.

This usually involves around 20 different services that are all performed in one appointment. This means that your unit can get cleaned, inspected, adjusted, lubricated, and tested in just a couple of hours.

All you have to do is call your local HVAC company to see if this is something that they offer.

Air Duct Sealing

Air ducts are typically concealed in your walls, ceiling, attics, and basement. This means that reaching them and repairing them can be extremely difficult. However, there are ways to improve your ducting no matter how difficult it is to reach.

Sealing your air ducts is one way to do exactly that. It prevents cool and warm air from escaping through your ducting. When you have an air duct sealing service in your home, they'll be able to fix any leaks that are in your ducts.

Sealing your air ducts should only be done after the unit has been inspected thoroughly. Once it's been determined that there are no other issues with the unit, an HVAC company should do a sealing service. Typically your local HVAC company will do the inspection beforehand to ensure that you do indeed need sealing or if you may need a replacement instead.

This service will take care of any leaks within your AC ducting to ensure that all air flows efficiently throughout the entire system. This means less energy wasted and better cooling for you!

The Benefit of Air Duct Sealing

By having air duct sealing done, you'll get to experience the following benefits:

  1. Better Comfort

With air duct sealing, you'll experience better comfort in your home. This is because you won't be losing any airflow from leaks or damages in your ducts.

2. Better Air Quality

A sealing service will improve the air quality in your home. This is because of the fact that you'll get rid of all allergens and pollutants within your unit's ducting. As well as sealing any holes where allergens get in! That means cleaner air for you and your family.

3. No More Energy Loss

When leakages occur, it forces your unit to work twice as hard and use more energy than it needs. This, of course, results in huge utility bills at the end of the month! By having a sealing service done, you can save money.

4. For Safety

Another benefit of having your AC ducts sealed is for safety. 20,000 people visit the hospital each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide from appliances in your home can travel through your air ducts if there are holes or leaks. Sealing these will ensure that any carbon monoxide leaks in your home won't travel through the whole house via your ducts.

5. For the Environment

Lastly, sealing your air ducts is beneficial to the environment. If you seal your ducts, it means that you'll be using less fuel and energy. This reduces your carbon footprint and helps the environment for better sustainability.

How to Tell if You Need Air Duct Sealing

There are a couple of tell-tale ways to know if you need air duct sealing or not. Here are a few of them to keep an eye out for:

  • High energy bills
  • Drafty rooms, or rooms that never seem to feel comfortable
  • Dry and itchy skin with plenty of static electricity in the air
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • If you notice any tangles or kinked ducting

If you find any of these things happening in your home, it's time for an HVAC company to come out and take a look. This way they can determine if you need air duct sealing or replacement.

You should also consider having an inspection done regardless of these signs if you don't have regular maintenance performed.

Air Duct Sealing Cost

When talking about air duct sealing cost, it can vary depending on the state you live in and the professional HVAC company you choose to go with.

You can typically expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500, as this is the national average. With such a large gap in price range, it's best to just call up your local HVAC company to get a quote from them.

Air Duct Replacement

When you need ductwork repairs, it's time to contact your local HVAC company right away before the problem gets worse. This way they can fix any damage within your system and make sure that you don't lose too much energy.

However, you may just need an HVAC replacement instead of repairs. If you find yourself needing new ducts or an entire replacement unit altogether, it's advised to get a second opinion (from a professional HVAC company).

Replacing your system isn't something that should be done on a whim; this is why some people may recommend having an expert come out and provide an inspection.

Having a local HVAC company come out and inspect your unit will ensure that you are making the right choice. They'll be able to tell whether you should repair your ducts, or replace them altogether.

How to Tell if You Need an HVAC Replacement

If you are wondering about some of the signs to look out for, we've got you covered. Here are a couple of things that could indicate that you need an HVAC replacement,

1. Your Utility Bills Continue to Climb

If you are seeing that your utility bills continue to climb each month, this could be a sure sign. Even after all of your efforts to lower them, you are still seeing a significant increase, call up an expert.

2. Your System is Having Uneven Temperatures

If you find that your system is having uneven temperatures throughout the house, then it's time to call up a specialist. For example, if it's nice and cool in the kitchen, but blazing hot in the living room, it's a sure sign there is an issue with your unit or ducts.

3. Your Unit is Running Continuously

Another sure sign that you need to replace your air conditioning unit is if it's running continuously. This means that your system will be cycling on throughout the day and night, which will not only cost you money but cause unnecessary wear and tear on your unit.

4. Your Unit is Coming to an End of its Lifespan

Your HVAC unit is built to last about 12-17 years if is properly maintained, so if you are nearing the end of the lifespan of your unit, it's time for an HVAC replacement.

By calling up your local HVAC company, they'll be able to provide you with an estimate and perform an inspection to see if you do in fact need a replacement.

5. Your Spending a Lot on Repairs

If you are continually spending a lot of money on repairs, it could be a sign that your unit is coming to the end of its life or that it's beyond repair. Your best option at this point is to have an HVAC replacement so everything can be working as efficiently as possible.

Air Duct Replacement Benefits

If you do get your unit replaced, you'll be happy to hear that air duct replacement comes with many benefits, such as:

  • Increase efficiency and decreased bills
  • Improved air quality
  • Regulated air temperature
  • When properly installed, a much longer lifespan

Postponing an issue with your unit rather than replacing it right away can cost you in the long run. Reap the benefits and get it replaced as soon as you find out that it needs replacing.

Air Duct Replacement Costs

When talking about air duct replacement costs, you can expect to pay around $1,400 to $5,600 to have a new unit installed in your home. This is a big price range because everyone's needs are different and not all HVAC companies are the same.

It's best to call up a local HVAC expert, and get a free quote from them! They'll also come out to your home and provide you with an inspection to ensure that you do indeed need a replacement rather than repairs.

DIY or Hire a Professional

When it comes to air conditioning units, it's always best to hire a professional rather than do it yourself. Professionals have the experience and knowledge to install or repair your unit properly and ensure that it's working efficiently.

Not to mention, if something goes wrong after you've installed it yourself, you may not be able to get it fixed under warranty. With the cost of AC units so high, it's not worth the chance of messing something up. It is always recommended to have an expert do it for you.

What to Look for in an HVAC Company

When it comes time to hire an HVAC company for your air duct repairs, maintenance, or replacements, it's important to keep a few things in mind.

First and foremost, always make sure that the company is licensed and insured. This will protect you in the event that something goes wrong during the installation or repair process. As well as showing that they know what they are doing!

Secondly, be sure to ask around for referrals. Hearing first-hand experiences from friends and family is always helpful when it comes time to make a decision.

Third, look for a company that offers HVAC financing! The cost of replacements or repairs can start to add up, so having a financing option is great for a lot of people.

And finally, take the time to read reviews online. This will give you an idea of what to expect from the company, and whether or not they are up to par with your expectations. Happy clients are always good to see!

Air Duct Care

Replacing your air ducts can seem daunting, but when you air a professional HVAC company, it's much easier than you might think. They'll take care of everything for you in a quick and simple way. All you have to do is call them up.

It's always recommended to start doing regular air duct maintenance. There are so many benefits and it can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. Be sure to check with your HVAC specialists about the maintenance plans they have!

We've outlined some key reasons you may need replacements, repairs, and maintenance. As well as the cost and what to look for in an HVAC company. If you still have questions about anything we discussed or if you're ready to get started with HVAC services, be sure to reach out to us and schedule a call!