Residential HVAC Duct Cleaning

Everything You Need to Know About Duct Blaster Tests

Duct blaster tests are suitable for both new-build homes and existing properties. The test is designed to identify leaks in ductwork.

Why are leaks in a duct system so concerning?

If your home’s air ducts are leaking, you will likely experience:

  • Higher energy bills. Your heating or cooling systems will have to work harder, for longer, to replace the air that has been lost through ductwork leaks.
  • Compromised indoor air quality. If your ducts are leaking, they are prone to suck dust from your attic or crawl space. This dust and debris are then deposited throughout your home via your vents, creating issues with indoor air quality.
  • Clogged ductwork. The above issue can also lead to clogs in your system, which require extensive repairs to rectify.
  • Health concerns. Leaky ducts can also cause myriad health issues via mold and moisture accumulation, which can be problematic for residents with allergies or lung conditions.

A duct test is the first step to ensuring these issues do not occur in your property.

How does a duct blaster test work?

For existing properties, the duct blaster proceeds as follows:

  • The duct blaster fan is attached to the fan at the air handler cabinet or result grille.
  • All other supplies and returns are temporarily sealed with special tape for the duration of the test.
  • The duct blaster fan is then turned on, which immediately pressurizes the ductwork system.
  • A leakage measurement is then obtained from an airflow and pressure gauge, which is connected to the fan system.
  • If the pressure reading is low, this indicates a leak in the system.
  • Non-toxic fog can then be added to the system, which then allows for the visual identification of the exact source of leaks in the ductwork.
  • These leaks can then be repaired.

The process is much the same for properties still undergoing construction but can be conducted – with minor modifications if the air handler has yet to be installed.

Who needs a ductwork blaster test?

Duct blaster tests are suitable for properties still undergoing construction, as well as for existing properties.

In newly-constructed properties, duct leak testing should be conducted when the ductwork system is installed and prior to hanging drywall. Testing at this point ensures that all leaks are identified while the ductwork is still exposed, which ensures remedial action can be taken as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Existing properties can benefit from a duct blaster test at any point in time. The test will seek to produce a combined result for both exterior leakage, for example, to an attic or crawl space; and interior leakage to the main areas of the home. A blower door test is often combined with a duct blaster test so as to isolate exterior leakage.

When the test is complete, repair work on the leaks can be conducted to secure the system.

Who conducts a duct blaster test?

Only certified professionals are able to conduct a duct blaster test, as the process is complex and requires specific expertise.

In conclusion

Identifying leaking ductwork can be incredibly difficult. A duct blaster test is a perfect choice to ensure that the ductwork in your home is in the best possible condition, and is recommended for all homeowners seeking to ensure their home runs as healthily and cost-efficiently as possible.

duct testing

Duct Leak Testing: The Home Check You Never Knew You Needed

You are probably aware that the majority of homes force air through a duct system into the property for heating and cooling purposes. But did you know that leaks in the duct system of your home can cause massive issues? According to studies twenty-five percent of energy for cooling and heating the home can be wasted if the property has a poor duct system. With duct testing and sealing this issue can be eliminated.

How Does Your Duct System Work?

Your duct system is important through the winter months and the hotter seasons of the year. During the winter warm air is pushed through the home through the supply ducts while air from the house enters the system to be filtered and reheated.

In the summer months, cool air is pushed through while warm air is returned to be cooled and dehumidified. In many homes though, both processes are completely inefficient.

The Issues With Duct Leaks

The problem with duct systems is that air can leak out anywhere including:

  • Connections to vents or registers
  • Any joints
  • At any branches in the system
  • Between the furnace and the AC

Since there are so many places, it’s likely that your duct system has quite a few leaks. The issue here is obvious. With air leaking into your home, you get warm air that hasn’t been cooled and cool air that hasn’t been warmed. Dehumidified air may also escape leading to increased levels of moisture ,and generally, the whole system will need to work harder to keep your home the right temperature.

If you don’t know much about your duct system, don’t worry. It’s usually, totally out of sight and mind. That’s why you need to use tests to find a leak.

Testing Your Duct System

Using a duct system test as expert will:

  • Force air through the system under pressure
  • Measure airflow and pressure at different points
  • Determine whether there is a leak and where it is in the system

There are two types of tests that can be used. These are:

  • Duct Blaster Test – With this method all the supply and return vents are sealed. After this, air is pressurized and forced through the duct system using a Duct Blaster. Air flow is then measured to check and identify a leak. Typically an issue can be fixed immediately.
  • Blower Door Test – With a blow door test a box is placed over the door of the house to pressurize the home and the duct system. Differences within the system can then be measured to, once again, identify a leak. This method can also check for any leaks allowing air to escape inside the home itself.

While these are the two main options, there are other tests currently being evaluated for use.

How Do You Seal Leaks Once They Are Found?

There are 3 recommended ways to seal leaks once they are discovered. These are:

  • Aerosol sealants – providing a fast, efficient and effective solution if you have the product you can seal a leak in minutes.
  • Foil tape – using tape with mastic backing is a great option for quickly fixing up leaks
  • Duct mastic – This thick paste will form a tight seal that is completely permanent

Some people use cloth duct tape; however, this does tend to eventually come free.

Be aware, it’s important to run a second leak test to make sure the solution is effective.

Why Are Sealing Leaks So Important?

You might be wondering why sealing leaks in your duct system are so crucial. Well, if you have leaks, you are certainly going to spend more on heating and cooling your home. Ultimately, you’ll need to keep the system on for longer but use far more air overall. Particularly if you’re looking for a certain level of comfort or you want your home to be at the right temperature.

Ultimately, you will lose a quarter of the power of the air you are pumping into your home. So, if you have a four-ton air con system, you might only be getting the equivalent of three tons, but you will still be paying the same price.

As well as this, sealing your leaks will also mean that you can heat or cool your home a lot faster. You might even find you can get a smaller system if it’s operating at the highest efficiency.

Don’t forget that air won’t just be leaving through the leak; it could be entering as well. This means unclean air filled with anything from moisture to pollutants and even pesticides could be pumping into your home right now. So to summarise fix the leaks and you’ll:

  • Save a lot on energy
  • Keep clean air into your home
  • Improve the efficiency of your system and your home

If you think there is a leak in your duct system, get it tested and you can seal any leaks almost immediately.

Cleaning air ducts

The Importance of Cleaning Your Air Ducts

One of the most commonly overlooked areas of your home is your ductwork. While you may stay on top of having your air conditioner and furnace maintained, your air ducts are just as important. Your ductwork is responsible for distributing treated air throughout your home. Clogged, leaky, or dirty air ducts may help spread dust, pollen, and other contaminants throughout your home and they can certainly contribute to rising energy bills.

Air duct cleaning is an important way to ensure your ductwork is in good condition and free of mold and other contaminants. While important, just keep in mind that duct cleaning has not been proven to prevent health issues related to indoor air quality and there has never been a study to conclusively show that particle levels in your home are increased due to dirty ductwork. This is because a great deal of debris in your ductwork adheres to the surfaces and isn’t guaranteed to enter your living space. With that being said, air duct cleaning can still serve as a preventative measure that doesn’t hurt your indoor air quality and may help your HVAC system work more efficiently.

What Is Air Duct Cleaning?

Air duct cleaning is a service that involves cleaning all of the components of your forced air system, including your heating and cooling elements. A qualified provider will use specialized tools to dislodge debris, dirt, and mold and vacuum these contaminants away. Chemical treatment may also be applied to your system to fight microbiological contaminants like mold and bacteria.

AIr duct cleaning may involve the cleaning of the following components of your HVAC system:

  • Return and supply ductwork and registers
  • Condensate drip or drain pans
  • Air handling housing unit
  • Fan motors
  • Coils
  • Heat exchangers
  • Diffusers

Benefits of Cleaning Your Air Ducts

While there is no evidence that shows cleaning your ductwork can improve your health, many homeowners who have their ducts clean report feeling less congested and indoor air that smells fresher with less visible dust in the air. Regular maintenance of your ductwork is an important way to extend the life of your HVAC system, reduce your energy costs, and prevent humidity problems.

Potential benefits of air duct cleaning include:

  • Fresher indoor air with less dust
  • Prevents clogs due to debris and dust
  • Prevents rodent and insect infestation
  • Reduces the risk of serious and hidden mold growth
  • Reduces strain on your HVAC system
  • Keeps your air conditioner working efficiently to combat humidity and hot/cold spots
  • Reduces your heating and cooling costs by finding and sealing air leaks

How Often Should Your Air Ducts Be Cleaned?

There is no specific schedule for duct cleaning but it may be a good idea to have your ductwork cleaned and inspected every year. This form of preventative maintenance may be needed more or less frequently depending on the age of your ductwork, the type of HVAC system you have, the air quality in your area, and your overall climate.

Along with having your ducts cleaned every 1-3 years, there are other steps you can take to prevent a build-up of dirt and contaminants in your ductwork:

  • Change HVAC filters regularly. Depending on factors like your household size, how frequently your system is used, and whether you have pets, this may be every 1 to 6 weeks.
  • Switch to high-efficiency filters.
  • Vacuum the home regularly.
  • Seal up your HVAC systems during construction or remodeling in your home until all debris and dust are cleaned up.
  • Check for moisture on insulation near your cooling coils.
  • Ensure your HVAC system is sized correctly for your home.
  • Improve air circulation in your home by opening doors and windows when the weather allows.

Leaky Air Ducts and Energy Costs

Air duct cleaning isn’t enough to keep your ductwork in good shape; it’s also important to make sure it’s properly sealed. There are nearly 1 million miles of ductwork in homes in the United States. According to industry experts, about 2/3 of them leak enough that they should be repaired or sealed. Leaky air ducts can dramatically increase your heating and air conditioning costs, worsen indoor air quality, and put a great deal of strain on your HVAC system, shortening its life and reducing its performance.

According to some studies, up to 25% of your home’s total energy loss is attributed to leaks in your duct system. When there are leaks in your supply ductwork, for example, costly conditioned air can be sent into the attic, garage, or crawlspace instead of your home. Leaks in the return system pull outside air into the duct system and reduce the efficiency of the HVAC system and strain the system. If your ducts are leaking, it can prevent your HVAC system from doing its job, leaving some rooms too hot or too cold or leading to humidity problems. Leaking ducts may also pull contaminants into the home.

Routine air duct leak testing can detect any air leaks in your ductwork that allows conditioned air to escape or lets hot or cold air into the system from outdoors. Duct testing is a cost-effective way to make sure your HVAC system is able to work at peak efficiency. Duct leak testing doesn’t need to be often done, but it should be done every few years.

What to Expect During Air Duct Cleaning

Always choose an air duct cleaning company that’s licensed and insured. You can check customer reviews before selecting a company but be wary of hyped claims that duct cleaning has amazing health benefits as these claims can’t be backed by scientific evidence. During your appointment, your cleaner will probably perform an inspection and duct testing first and use specialized equipment. Your furnishings and flooring will be covered to prevent damage.