Signs Your HVAC Air Ducts Are Leaking

image of homeowner feeling hot due to a leak in hvac ductwork

A complex system makes heating and cooling your home possible. It consists of more than indoor and outdoor units as it also has a network of ducts and vents that distribute cold or hot air in various rooms around your home. It is not unusual that you think a faulty system is the root of any issues that develop. However, the ducts may be what’s causing the problem. It is hard to find leaks across the ductwork because they are usually hidden. However, there are signs of leaky air ducts you can look for if you think you’re experiencing this problem.

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Signs Your HVAC Air Ducts Are Leaking

This article discusses several common signs of a leak in your HVAC ducts.

Higher Utility Bills

image of a homeowner reviewing energy bills depicting heating and air conditioning

Leaks in the HVAC ducts mean that your air conditioner and furnace’s efforts are wasted. Cold and hot air travel to unwanted rooms like the basement instead of going to rooms you are using. The set temperatures are also harder to achieve and maintain, causing the system to use more energy. As a result, you will have increased energy bills despite using the system the same amount as before, making it an expensive issue to ignore.

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Noticeable Dustiness In The Home

image of dust on furniture depicting hvac ductwork leaks

Aside from moving the air in unwanted areas, leaks can also disturb the dust beds in hidden spaces around your home and force them into the open. If it has become dustier in your bedrooms and living rooms although there are no changes in your daily activities, this can be the reason. This build-up can cause a decline in your family’s health, triggering allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.

Uneven Heating And Cooling

You may notice a difference in temperatures when you move from one room to another. Central air systems should have even conditioned air distribution, so uneven heating or cooling can be a symptom of a problem with your system. For instance, the ductwork may leak the cold air from the air conditioner, causing the colder air to leak out the problematic ducts, so the farther rooms do not receive much cooling anymore. It is one of the most prominent signs that are hard to miss. Occupants may try adjusting the thermostat, but this will not do much until the leaks are resolved.

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Other Negative Effects On Indoor Air Quality

The duct leaks may also cause toxic fumes to spread around the home, resulting in illnesses among the occupants. The air being pulled in may be coming from the basement or outside. If you store chemicals like paint lacquer and pesticides in these areas, you may breathe their fumes without knowing. Investigate any strong smells around your home, as this can be what’s causing them.

HVAC System Needs Repairs Frequently

image of an hvac contractor repairing hvac ductwork due to leaks

It is expected that older HVAC units break down more often, but this should not be the case if you have a relatively new system that’s only a few years old. A well-maintained HVAC unit should last over ten years. Leaks in the air ducts mean the unit has to work harder, causing faster wear and tear. This only contributes to equipment failure. Prevent this from happening with early intervention.

Finding The HVAC Ductwork Leaks

Here are some of the best steps you can take to find where the ductwork leak is:

Look For Visible Tears In the Ducts

Carefully check the ductwork for tears and holes. Use a grease pencil to mark these holes so you can find them easily when you are ready to get them fixed. You might be surprised to find how much the problem has worsened over time.

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Run The HVAC Unit On Full Blast

If you find it hard to look for the leaks, have the HVAC system run on full blast, so the conditioned air is distributed throughout the house. This makes it easier to feel the temperature difference around areas where there is a tear in the duct. This helps you find most, if not all, duct leaks.

Check The Duct Joints

The joints of the ducts are natural weak points. Therefore, it isn’t unusual for leaks to develop around if they are improperly sealed. To check if this is the case, run your hand over them. There are leaks if you can feel cold air coming out of them.

Remove Duct Tape

image of duct tape that was removed from hvac ductwork

If you recently bought the house, check for any duct tapes. The previous owners may have used duct tape when they came across leaks. It is best to remove these tapes so a technician can permanently seal all leaks.

Light Incense

Use incense or colorful smoke to make leaks visible. You will notice that the smoke swirls differently in these problematic areas, allowing you to find the leaks right away. This is a good way to find small leaks that cannot be easily found with your hands.

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Seal The Ductwork Leaks

Once you have surveyed the situation, you can start sealing the ducts. Hire an experienced HVAC technician to do this so that the problem doesn’t occur again. Technicians will use permanent seals and may even find more leaks that you didn’t spot during your inspection. Professionals will conduct thorough assessments that will yield better results.

Test With Fog

You can use a fog machine to test the ducts after sealing the ductwork leaks. This allows you to find if you missed any holes. Keep in mind that it is better to seal most of the bigger holes first so that you do not flood the basement and attic with smoke. However, HVAC technicians have the proper tools and extensive experience to find leaks more accurately. They are also knowledgeable on what will work best to resolve the leaky ductwork so your HVAC system can go back to good working condition.



Each household has a unique situation. Some of the methods will work better than others in some cases. An HVAC professional will know what technique to use and when to do them. They will find all the duct leakages and seal them properly. This way, you will have even temperatures, better indoor air quality, and lower energy bills. Your system will also need fewer repairs and have a longer lifespan.

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Call Hart Home Comfort For Effective Heating Solutions

hart-logoHart Home Comfort offers high-quality HVAC services in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Queens, New York. Our professionally certified technicians can conduct heating and cooling installations, repairs, replacements, and tune-ups. Rest assured, all our technicians have the experience, skills, and knowledge to service any HVAC system correctly and on time. You can rely on us with practical solutions to enhance your comfort, increase system efficiency, and improve your home’s air quality.

Our company provides one of the most competitive HVAC prices in the area. Our maintenance services can extend your system’s service life while reducing energy bills. If you require an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can suggest the best solution that’s budget-friendly as well. Your satisfaction is important to us, so all our work is guaranteed. Give Hart Home Comfort a call today to book a service appointment. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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