How Damaged Ductwork Can Impact AC Performance

When the Southern California high temperatures roll around, especially in The Valley, a properly working cooling system is a must. You know that in Southern California, including Thousand Oak, high temperatures can arrive at the tail end of winter or in the middle of fall. It is just the way it is, so all you can do is to be prepared. In order for your AC to perform at its highest level, the ductwork has to be in good condition. Here are some ways damaged ductwork can impact AC performance.


Ductwork is the system used in a home to distribute heated or cooled air throughout the house from a centralized unit. There are three common types of ducts. They are conditioned air, re-circulating air, and fresh air. Ductwork is often made from galvanized steel and aluminum. Older houses usually have ductwork because decades ago, it was the most efficient way to distribute air.

Today, there are other options. The homes of today, thanks to research and technology, can opt for ductless units, which offer their own set of benefits.

Leaks in the ductwork are one common damage that impacts AC performance. When you turn on the cooling system, your expectation is that all of the air is going to make it into the rooms that have vents. If the ducts have any leaks, a percentage of the air is not going to make it. What ends up happening is that you allow the unit to run longer because you are trying to achieve the desired temperature in every room. Unknowingly, you are spending more on energy because finding leaks in the ducts is not an easy task. Leaks, therefore, have a negative impact on AC performance.

There are solutions to leaks. Professionals find them after running tests. Then, they seal them. The technicians will go over their findings with you. The goal is to make sure you understand the shape of the ductwork. Sealing the leaks works but only for a period of time.

Dust Build-Up

The ducts in your home are not easy to reach, so they are difficult to clean. When the HVAC system is not in use, it gathers dust. The ducts do, too. If you go a long period of time without using your HVAC, dust builds up inside it. When you turn on the system for the first time after several weeks or even days, the first thing that blows into the rooms through the vents is dust. In a way, it is better when the dust is loose than when it clogs. If there are clogs in the ducts, this has a negative impact on AC performance. The clogs become obstructions for the air. Instead of flowing freely, some of the air sits behind the obstruction.

Anything that gets in the way of the air’s flow impacts the amount of cooled and heated air that actually makes it to its destination. Every bit of air that does not make it to a room is a loss. That loss leads to higher energy bills because your goal is to cool your home. Running a cooling system longer because the ductwork has damage is not environmentally friendly. Environmental organizations have accepted that people are not going to give up their AC. This is why these governing bodies have set up guidelines that offer a middle ground between looking out for the environment and for people being able to remain comfortable in their homes.

If you believe that less than 90 percent of the cool air produced by your HVAC system in Thousand Oak, CA, is not making it to the rooms in your house, a professional like us can assess the situation for you. [Company_name] can inspect the ducts on an annual basis as this is recommended anyway. There could be other types of pollution in there that could be harmful to you. Clogs also lead to a reduction in the quality of the air in your house. This is not ideal. The air quality in your home should always be the best possible.

Ill-Fitting Duct Work

When air ducts were first installed in homes, builders did the best they could with the technology they had at that time. Compared to the technology of today, it is obvious that it was not the most efficient system in some cases. The size of the ducts has to match the size of the home ratio-wise. If the ducts are too big and the house is small, the size of the ducts is not allowing the air to flow efficiently into the intended rooms. A small home does not need large ducts because the size of the house allows it to cool faster. There is wasted space and energy. Instead, the air has more space to hang out in on its way to its destination. This has a negative impact on AC performance. If the ducts are too small, you end up with more dust in rooms as well as clogs.

Ill-fitting ducts are therefore inefficient. The age of the ducts is another important consideration. Anything can begin to sag over time. Ducts are no different. Gravity has a way of catching up with everything. The ducts were probably perfect when the house was first built. If it has been a couple of decades, however, you can safely assume that they are now ill-fitting. It does not occur because something hit them. It is just because aluminum is going to lose its perfect shape eventually. Any change in the shape of the ducts causes a disruption in the flow of the air.

Air Flow

The path the air travels into each room of your house has to be as direct as possible. If it is obstructed in any way, that is a loss. Even with the most perfect path, air does not always behave as you would expect. Sometimes, the air will travel in a swirling manner. Every moment it spends in the ducts instead of at its intended destination is a loss. Unnecessary turns in the path of the air are known as pinches. Pinches are a result of a collapsed duct.

While you cannot see the ductwork, there are signs you can spot that tell you something is wrong. If you hear noises, that is a sign that something is wrong. Rattling should set off alarm bells. There should be nothing that makes sounds roaming through the ducts. Sometimes those noises are due to the steel in the aluminum. These materials can make noises when they are being shaped. So, if you hear something, it could signal that something is wrong with the material.

If your energy bills are rising, that is a red flag. While your bills may fluctuate a little according to the current rates and the number of days that are hot, your bills should not keep rising if you are managing your cooling system’s use. Declining air quality is another red flag, especially if you utilize an air purifier.

For a consultation, give us a call at Air Max HVAC in Thousand Oak, CA, today. We offer heating and cooling installation or replacement, repairs, maintenance, home energy audits, and indoor air quality services. We look forward to hearing from you.

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