Signs Your HVAC Air Ducts Are Leaking

hvac ductwork

Home heating and cooling units are made up of multifaceted components. Whether the forced-air HVAC unit is inside the house or outside, there are vents and ducts which ensure that the hot or cold air is distributed properly throughout the house. If you notice that your unit is not functioning properly, the problem could be the ductwork. Ducts are located inside the home, typically behind walls or ceilings. As such, it is not always easy to see if there is a leak in the ductwork. However, there are signs of leaky air ducts which can help you to figure out if there is a leak in the ductwork.

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Signs That There Is A Leak In The HVAC Air Ducts

Below are some of the typical indicators that there might be a leak in your HVAC ducts.

1. Higher Than Usual Energy Bill

expensive heating and cooling expenses

When there is a leak in the ductwork, you will be able to tell because hot or cold air will not be distributed effectively. For instance, instead of the air being distributed to those rooms in the house that are normally occupied such as the living room and bedrooms, the hot and cold air will be mostly distributed in an area such as the attic. Therefore, the benefits of the air conditioner or furnace will be wasted. Also, because the system will be struggling to get to the desired temperatures and to maintain those temperatures, the unit will be using more energy. If you start receiving higher than usual energy bills, but you have not changed your usage, chances are that there is a leak in your ductwork.

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2. Dust In The House

image of dust in house due to poor air quality

Apart from causing air to be spread to areas where it is not supposed to be distributed, leaks can also cause dust to be released from hidden places in your home and then it is spread throughout the house. So, if all of a sudden there is more dust in your house but there is no clear explanation for the dust, chances are that there might be a ductwork leak. Dust is obviously not something anyone wants in their home, especially if you have residents who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory ailments.

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3. Uneven Circulation Of Air

Another sign that there might be a fault with your ductwork is if you observe that there is an uneven distribution of air in your home. Central air units are designed in such a way that they should distribute air evenly throughout the home. If the ductwork has a leak, you might notice that the area close to the leaky ducts will be much colder when using your air conditioner when compared to other areas that will be far from the leaky ducts. If that is the case, even if you attempt to adjust the temperature using the thermostat, nothing will change until you have fixed the issue.

4. Poor Air Quality Inside The House

man sneezing due to poor indoor air quality

Leaking ducts do more than just spread dust throughout your home. They can also scatter toxic gases which can affect people’s health. The system can end up pulling in air from the basement, garage, or other areas. There might be harmful chemicals in such places including thinners and pesticides. If you notice that there is an unusually strong smell or increased allergies inside your house, this needs to be attended to urgently in case you might be breathing harmful substances.

5. HVAC Units Need Regular Repairs

HVAC units break down just like every other machine, especially the older models. However, if you haven’t had your unit for a long time and you notice that it is breaking down a lot already, it is an indication that something is wrong somewhere. A well-maintained system should function properly for a decade or more. The reason for the constant breakdowns could be leaky air ducts. If the unit has leaky air ducts, it is forced to work harder. The result of an overworked system is quick wear and tear. In order to prevent this, make sure that the issue is resolved early.

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How To Find Leaks In Your HVAC Ductwork

Below are the steps you can take in order to identify leaks in your HVAC ductwork.

1. Perform An HVAC Ductwork Inspection

Carefully examine the ductwork to see in there any tears or holes. Some tears are more apparent than others so you have to be thorough with your inspections. Make use of a grease pencil to mark the damaged spots to make them easier to identify when the repairs are actually done by a professional.

2. Switch On The HVAC System Completely

hand adjusting home thermostat

Turning on the HVAC system to the maximum will force conditioned air to be circulated around the house. This helps you to identify the leaks in your system with greater ease because temperature fluctuations can be detected with greater accuracy around duct tears. If you do it correctly, you will be able to find most of the leaks.

3. Examine HVAC Duct Joints

The presence of weak duct joints in the HVAC system should not surprise you at all. Leaks naturally develop around them if they are not sealed properly. Inspect these joints carefully with your hands and feel if the air is flowing out.

4. Duct Tape Removal

image of hvac duct tape

It is probable that the previous owners of the house used duct tape as a makeshift solution for a leak in the HVAC system. It could well be the case that leaks are coming from this area. Get rid of all this tape so that the technician can put a more permanent seal.

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5. Smoke Or Incense

Use incense or any colorful smoke to expose affected areas. If an area around the ductwork is affected by leaks, the smoke will be swirling differently, allowing you to locate affected areas instantly. Small leaks can be identified easily using this method.

6. Seal The Ductwork Leaks

hvac ductwork repair

After you have done a thorough assessment of the entire system and you have identified the leaks, they must be sealed. If you are wise, let an experienced technician handle all of this to prevent the problem from resurfacing in the future. Hiring a skilled HVAC technician will save you a lot of time and money because they know exactly how to fix these problems permanently. They can even identify some spots that you missed during your ductwork inspection.

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7. Use A Fog Machine

When the leaks have been sealed, look for a fog machine to test the ducts. This method will expose the remaining leaks if there are any. Just make sure that you seal all the big holes prior to using this method to avoid filling the attic and basement areas with a lot of smoke. You do not have to do it on your own since HVAC technicians already have the equipment and expertise needed to locate the leaks with pinpoint accuracy.



No two situations are exactly the same. Household owners encounter problems with their units which require different solutions. HVAC technicians will know which techniques to use for your particular situation. They will know how to properly identify leaks in your ductwork and seal them the correct way.

Contact Point Bay Fuel For Trusted Heating & Cooling Solutions

Point-Bay-Fuel-LogoPoint Bay Fuel offers superior heating and cooling services in Monmouth and Ocean County, New Jersey. We only hire expert certified technicians who can tune-up, install, repair, or replace your HVAC unit. Our licensed technicians have the required experience and know-how to service your HVAC unit properly. Our practical solutions will enhance your indoor air quality, unit’s efficiency, as well as improve the level of comfort in your home.

Point Bay Fuel guarantees the best-priced HVAC services in the area. We offer maintenance services that lengthen the lifecycle of your HVAC unit and lessen your heating and cooling charges. Should you require a repair or replacement unit, we can offer you solutions that fit within your budget. To ensure customer satisfaction, we support all our work with a guarantee. For an appointment, call Point Bay Fuel today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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