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Homeowners Guide to Air Conditioner Ducts

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When you first move into a new home, there’s a lot to learn about all the different systems that keep your home running behind the scenes. While you may know the basics of how your central air conditioning system operates, you may not know as much as you’d like about the components you never see – like the ductwork. Learning what the air conditioner ducts do, what problems they can cause and whether they need professional cleaning can help you keep your central AC in top condition.

Ductwork Function

In a way, the ductwork in your attic and crawlspaces is the unsung hero of your central air conditioning. While there’s some debate about whether having ductwork can diminish the energy efficiency of your system, central air is still considered superior in operational cost and efficiency to multiple window units.

Basically, the ducts connect the vents in each room of your home to the piece of equipment responsible for cooling the air and removing humidity. Once the air is properly conditioned, the compressor forces it through the ducts to the vents. While you may never see them in action, your ducts are always working in the background to ensure your family has a comfortable living environment.

Duct Problems

The most common problem homeowners experience with the ductwork is tears in the material. Even a relatively small tear can lead to a significant air leak. Instead of your compressor using its power to push all that cooled air into your home, the tear in the ducts will allow a portion of the air to escape into the attic. Not only will you pay to condition the air leaking out of the ducts, but you’ll also have to pay for the system to cool additional air to replace it.

Cleaning Ducts

On average, your central air conditioner will recirculate the same air through your home five to seven times each day. If your air ducts become clogged with debris, your compressor could force it through the vents with the conditioned air every few hours, which will decrease your indoor air quality. If your ducts have leaks, moisture and mold could also enter the ducts and begin circulating through your home. Since indoor air quality issues can lead to health problems even in people without respiratory conditions, it’s a good idea to have your ducts cleaned whenever you notice a problem with air quality.

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