5 Critical Signs You Need HVAC Duct Replacement or Repair

How do you know if you need to repair or replace your home’s ductwork?

We know, you’ve probably not given it much thought, but even the hidden systems in your home, need regular maintenance, and sometimes they need repair.

Today’s post addresses 5 signs your HVAC system uses to let you know you might need HVAC duct replacement. Read more here about the sights, sounds, smells, and the feels associated with your home’s ductwork.

What’s That Smell?

Maybe the odor is nothing new or maybe you only smell it when the HVAC system kicks on. Smells don’t always mean you need to replace your ductwork. They do, however, require investigation.

Keep in mind if you’re turning your furnace on for the first time, or you rarely use it, dust will settle in your ductwork. Turning up the heat burns the dust particles and it doesn’t smell pretty. Don’t worry, the odor will go away!

Moldy odors, on the other hand, need attention. We’re not talking about the smell of moldy food, moldy, musty odors coming from the air vents in your home usually mean you have a problem with mold development inside the ductwork.

Mold leads to poor air quality and, often, respiratory health problems. Since it grows on the inside of your ductwork, you’ll never see it. Instead, you’ll need to schedule an inspection and air duct cleaning to remove the mold.

Odors aren’t the only clue you may need a heating duct replacement. Sometimes listening to your HVAC system signals a need for attention to ductwork.

Healthy Ductwork Does Not Make Noise

If you hear pops, booms, or bangs coming from your ductwork, you may or may not have a problem. 

You’ll most often hear these sounds when the HVAC system turns on and air begins moving through the ductwork. Sometimes homeowners notice an increase in noise after a duct cleaning. That’s because cleaning removes dust and debris, which previously obstructed airflow.

Dirty ductwork can also make banging and popping noises!

The bottom line is if you don’t have dust and debris in your air ducts and they make noise, you may need repair. When correctly installed, ductwork doesn’t make much of a racket.

Popping can happen due to undersized ductwork. Unfortunately, this is an installation issue, but you can have an HVAC technician help remedy the problem by insulating the ducts. Also, sometimes noises come from fluctuation in temperature in the duck joint—an expansion collar could help.

Some people decide they can live with the noise. Others go with replacing old thin metal ductwork with a heavier gauge metal.

You Feel Cold and Hot at the Same Time

No, you’re not coming down with something, you have an HVAC issue. To clarify, we’re not doctors, but usually, when you experience uneven temperatures in your home, it’s not you, it’s the HVAC system.

Before you start shopping for a new system or tearing out ductwork, make sure you’re not blocking airflow to any of the rooms in your home. Open any closed vents or dampers and clear furniture or boxes obstructing vents.

If that doesn’t help balance the temperature, you may have leaky ductwork.

Duct leaks have several causes, some from within the ductwork, and others from the home itself. For example, if you have settling in your foundation or structural damage to your home, your ductwork may develop cracks.

Deterioration of your ductwork due to age is another cause of leaks. Also, the caulk and other sealing materials used to hold the system components together can develop cracks. Poor installation can also lead to leaks.

Regardless of the reason for leaky ductwork, ignoring it only means you’ll continue living with unbalanced temperatures in your home. This is a strong sign it’s time for a repair or replacement.

You Notice Excessive Dust in the Air

Your HVAC system uses air filters to keep dust from entering your airspace. That said, a certain amount of dust in your home is normal. It’s when it gets excessive that you should inspect your system for ductwork issues.

The filter does a great job of keeping your air dust-free, but it can’t completely prevent particle buildup in every part of the HVAC system. If you’ve changed your air filters and still notice excessive dust in the air, especially when the HVAC system turns on, you should schedule a cleaning.

Also, look closely at your return air registers and vent covers. If you see matted or thick coatings of dust, the ductwork needs attention. Check the blower fan and motor in the furnace as well as your air conditioner coil for heavy dust, dirt, and debris.

Besides making you clean more often, dirty ductwork can aggravate allergies, asthma, and other respiratory health conditions.

Your Energy Bill Goes Sky High

If you’re like most homeowners, you watch your energy bill like a hawk eyes prey, just waiting for it to go up. Then, you start monitoring the thermostat and lecturing the family about wasting energy. You bark “go put a sweater on or double up on the socks!”

You might consider your ductwork as the culprit.  Leaks, cracks, and poorly sealed connections in ductwork cause homes to lose 20-30% of the air moving through the system. That means your HVAC system works harder than it should, resulting in higher energy bills.

Of course, ductwork isn’t the only contributor to higher than normal energy bills. You could have a faulty furnace component or need better home insulation. Start with an inspection of your ductwork system and make any necessary repairs, then if needed, you can move on to other energy sappers in your home.

Think You Might Need HVAC Duct Replacement?

We’ve shared 5 signs that indicate the ductwork system in your home needs attention. Whether you require a good cleaning, or you think you may need HVAC duct replacement or repair, don’t wait long to make that phone call! Taking care of ductwork now rather than later could save further damage to your system and should improve your air quality.

If you like this post or want to read more articles about caring for your home, hang out on the blog for a little longer. We’ve put together a range of articles we think you’ll enjoy reading.