Should You Consider Replacing Your Home's AC Ductwork?

A central air conditioning system can't function without a properly designed ductwork system. Ductwork can vary substantially between homes, with many different designs and materials. For example, your home may use rigid ductwork or flexible ductwork. Both systems have pros and cons, and each has unique ways of failing.

Unlike the mechanical parts of your air conditioning system, your ductwork typically doesn't wear out over time, which is a good thing since it can be relatively expensive to replace. However, there are certain situations where replacing your ductwork makes sense. If any of these three situations are true for your home, you may want to consult with an AC contractor as soon as possible.

1. Substantial Air Leakage

Your ductwork has two jobs:

  • Carry air between your air handler and your vents
  • Prevent substantial heat loading along the way

Insulation is never perfect, and your conditioned air will inevitably pick up some heat. Still, your ducts should do a reasonable job of keeping air cool between your evaporator and vents. Likewise, your ducts should be well-sealed to ensure the correct volume of air reaches each room in your home. Leaks, tears, or damage can impact both of these roles.

There's no way to know if your ducts are leaking without an air leakage test, but poor airflow or increasing energy bills are good indications. If you're experiencing these symptoms, an AC contractor can test your ducts for leakage to help determine if you need to consider a ductwork replacement.

2. Visible Damage

If you can see or access your ducts, visible damage is another sign replacement may be in order. You can fix easily accessible ducts, but signs of wear from rodent infestations, flooding, or other widespread issues may exist in the ductwork you can't see. It may also be cheaper to replace your ductwork than worry about removing and replacing individual sections.

As with other ductwork issues, it's best to consult an expert before making any final decisions. An experienced AC contractor can help you determine if the issues you can see are severe enough to warrant a complete replacement.

3. Improper Sizing

Improper sizing is arguably the most severe issue and one that's not easy to spot as a homeowner. Improperly sized ductwork will result in hot and cool spots, inefficient cooling, loud vents, and other issues. Unfortunately, these problems can be challenging to notice since it's likely how your system has behaved since the beginning.

However, if you suspect that there may be an issue, it's worth consulting with a qualified AC contractor for an evaluation. An expert can inspect your system, measure airflow rates, and perform sizing calculations to determine if your ductwork may be over or undersized. While correcting these problems isn't cheap, a proper ductwork installation will drastically improve your air conditioner's performance. 

For more information about air conditioning, contact a local company.