What is a duct mask?
A duct mask is an adhesive backed plastic film that can reduce the time and inconvenience of sealing the duct system. Creating a temporary seal on the HVAC system can be time consuming and frustrating and the duct mask expedites the process. If a leak test is conducted in the workplace, it can disrupt the normal work activities and impact on productivity. After the duct leakage has been measured, the duct mask can be safely removed from the register without harming its factory finish. The duct mask is also used by professionals to seal the duct register before cleaning.
How experts diagnose and repair common ductwork problems
- Duct leakage – a leaking supply duct loses energy in two ways; energy loss does not go into heating rooms or the home requires extra energy to compensate for cold air that leaks inside the home. In addition to creating energy losses, leaks on the return ducts can create health problems. Leaks are detected with an HVAC air flow test with a duct mask providing a temporary seal on the register.
- Inadequate or missing ductwork insulation – without insulation the HVAC system is forced to heat and cool the ductwork before proper temperature can reach a room. HVAC costs escalate and some rooms may stay too hot or too cold even if the HVAC system is working. Conductive heat losses are typically as great as the energy losses due to air leakage. If the duct system that is not insulated runs through the attic and crawl spaces, you can be sure that energy is being lost. What the professionals suggest is insulation for all ductwork that runs in unconditioned spaces like the attic, basement, crawl spaces and garage. However, if both the ducts and the basement are not insulated, a better option would be to consider insulating the basement walls instead of the ducts.
- Disconnected, torn or damaged ducts – during your inspection of the duct system, if there are holes that are large enough to be visible, they must have been torn during installation or afterwards. Fiberglass duct sections are prone to damage if weight is placed on them. Torn or damaged ducts are good sources of air leakage and if the holes are visible, it is certainly an indication that it needs immediate fixing. Professionals use either special duct mastic tape or spray foam to seal gaps.
The mechanics of duct sealing and repairs are often beyond the skill of a homemaker and it is worth the investment to seek for professional services. Leaks on the ductwork must be addressed immediately to save on your heating bills.