Those who have a central air system rely on their air ducts to take their cool or hot air from their air conditioner or furnace and disperse it throughout their home. But if they become loose, disconnected, develop holes or suffer other damage, they may be far less effective at dispersing that air. You can create hot spots or cold spots in your home, and you can undermine your energy efficiency if your air ducts have damage. How did it happen?

1. Play and Accidents

It happens to everyone. Your teenage children are roughhousing, and they end up knocking into a wall, and bumping the vent. Or, your husband is trying out his new VR headset in the basement and he forgets that there is a ceiling there, knocking his hands right into the vent. Simply playing or having an accident in the home can damage your air ducts.

2. Renovation Work

Knocking down a wall, changing the drywall, fixing the ceiling, or doing any number of other renovation tasks can end up damaging your drywall. If you’re doing it yourself, you might not notice that you’ve disconnected an air vent. The professionals might miss it too sometimes.

Another thing to watch out for when doing renovation work is that your air duct layout still works with your home and will still provide a consistent temperature. This is especially true if you’re dividing a room up or tearing down a wall. Your HVAC technician can help.

3. Cleaning

Air ducts gather dust, pet hair and plenty of other airborne debris. It eventually builds up into a layer that kind of looks like what comes out of your lint filter in your dryer—just a little grosser. When you get the ducts cleaned, you can remove this and restore your air quality. But sometimes mistakes are made and your duct cleaner adds too much pressure which ends up damaging the ducts.

4. HVAC Work

Sometimes even professionals make mistakes. Inexperienced HVAC technicians are more likely to do things that might damage the air ducts or which might just put them under stress. That includes adding the wrong kind of filter to the furnace or connecting new air ducting in a less-than-ideal way. A more experienced professional can usually fix these problems fairly quickly.

5. Water Exposure, Rusting and Corrosion

Your air ducts are made of thin metal and vulnerable to the same kind of damage that most other metals are. In your home, water exposure is among the most damaging thing. A small leak that constantly exposes the air duct to water can cause rusting and corrosion in that specific spot. Major leaks and floods can cause widespread rust and corrosion too.

6. Fires, Earthquakes, and Disasters

Any disaster your home may suffer can also damage your air ducting. Smoke from fires and the flame itself can all damage your air ducts. Earthquakes can dislodge and damage them. A lighting strike can melt them. Any natural disaster can harm them.

Your HVAC technician can find and fix air duct issues. Or, you can skip worrying about them entirely and get a ductless HVAC system.