Your ductwork is important in any forced-air heating and cooling system. They are like the arteries of your home, delivering cold air in the summer and hot air in the winter to every room. But, they are typically hidden behind the walls. So, how do you know if your ductwork is bad, improperly laid out, clogged, leaking, or otherwise inefficient? Apart from calling the professionals, there are some signs of bad ductwork that you can look out for.

how do I know if I have bad ductwork?

1. The Look of the Vents

If you happen to have any exposed air ducts (usually in the basement),taking a look at them can give you a glimpse as to the quality of the whole system. Red flags for visible ducting include:

  • Loose or detached sections of venting
  • Venting that is a different size than the rest
  • Bent, broken, or leaking vents (you may be able to feel leaks with your hand)

If you have any of these problems in the visible vents, the odds are that the vents in the rest of the home are in similar condition.

2. Hot Spots and Cold Spots

Is there a room or a space in your home that your air conditioner or furnace can’t quite touch? One that is always warmer or colder than the rest of the home? You may dismiss this as a problem that many older homes have, even if your home is not that old. But what does that really mean? Old homes have hot spots and cold spots because they don’t have the proper room for ducting, the ducting was added in piecemeal instead of as a consistent system, or older ducting was used.

HVAC professionals can actually fix these problems and ensure that your hot and cold spots are resolved.

3. Poor Air Quality

All air ducts slowly collect the airborne debris in your home. Dust, pet hair, dirt, bacteria, allergens, viruses, and more gather and become like a carpet in the vents, even a few inches thick. This can then spread that debris back into your air, overall reducing your air quality significantly. You might notice high amounts of dust or troubles with indoor allergies if you have clogged duct vents.

4. High Energy Bills

When you have an inefficient duct system, your energy bills are higher than they need to be. That’s because your air conditioner or furnace needs to work harder to get your home to the right temperature. It’s not just about leaks but also inefficient duct layouts and other problems. The trouble is, if your home has had this layout the entire time you’ve lived there, you might not realize it is causing issues. In this case, getting professional advice can help.

However, if you’ve put an addition or an ADU in the home and you find that your energy bills are much higher than you had expected with the additional square footage, then your ductwork system may be the problem.

5. Noise or Smell Issues

Your ductwork should not make squeaking or creaking noises. They should also not smell like there is mold or bacteria growth in them.

An HVAC professional can clean and fix any air duct issues that you have found.