Why Do I Have Poor Air Flow in my House? – Part 2

Stuffy air. There’s nothing positive about that phrase is there? Stuffy air is never something you try to attain or are happy to have. It is a problem. We discussed in our previous post the issue of having poor air flow throughout your home with your central heating and cooling system. The folks here at GAMA Air want to help you keep comfortable in your home. And we know a thing or two about home comfort. So, we’re going to pick up where we left off. 

Check your ductwork

This may seem like a non-issue. You may believe that there’s no problem there. Think again. A problem with your duct work will lead to issues with poor air flow. But what exactly is “ductwork”. It is the conduit, or the path, the air takes from your blower unit (whether it’s the furnace or a air handler or fan coil) to different rooms in your house. Think of it as a hose for air. How do you get water from the spigot beside your house out to the tree to water it? With a hose. How do you get nice cool airconditioned air from your basement or garage into your living room? With ductwork. But what if your hose has leaks? Then not everything coming out the spigot makes it to the nozzle. Some of it will leak out and run down the sidewalk into the gutter. The same problem might be happening with your ductwork.

Ductwork can be constructed from basically three types of materials. (Actually, there’s more than just three, but we’re going to simplify the explanation for what the majority of our friends and neighbors have who live in and around Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino, if not all of them.) Here’s a brief explanation of what you will likely find in your home.

  1. Metal. Sheet metal is formed into square or round tube-like conduits, and then pieced together to reach different parts of the house.
  2. Fiberboard. These are basically fiberglass boards about 3/4 inch-thick that are formed into square conduits similar to what is done with sheet metal.
  3. Flexible duct. This is a tube-like conduit with a plastic lining, wrapped in fiberglass, with an outer coating of plastic, or metalized plastic. In between the plastic layers is a metal spring-like wire to give it structure. Remember the Slinky? Well this is similar, but instead pulling back together, this spring is designed to push apart holding the flexible duct open.

Your home very likely has two or more of these duct materials. Where might there be problems? Well, just like a hose, where do you usually have leaks? Isn’t it where you attach it to the faucet? Or if you join two hoses together it may leak there? In the same way, the most likely air leaks in your ductwork will be where two pieces of the ductwork are joined together. If the company who installed the ductwork did a super-professional job, then the joints of the sheet metal duct were sealed with duct sealant, which is a paste-like goo that is smeared on the joints. This sealant then hardens and provides a leak proof joint. In the case of fiberboard and flexible duct, the joints are going to be sealed with special tape. As a side note, don’t use “duct tape” to fix your ducts. Believe us, duct tape can be used to fix or patch together just about anything in the world, (... or even in space! There’s duct tape on the International Space Station!), except a duct.

So, check the joints first, and seal them if they are not already sealed or if the sealant is failing. But think again about the hose, how else might there be leaks? If there is a crack or burst somewhere along the length of the hose itself. In the case of ductwork, it is nearly impossible that there will be a leak from an opening from a crack or a burst. However, if something damaged the ductwork then there might be a leak. Think of small animals in crawl spaces, or something that might have fallen on the ductwork while performing some other home repair.

What’s the big deal about having solid, leak-free ductwork? If your ductwork isn’t completely sealed (which it most likely isn’t), then the air blowing out your furnace or fan coil will push out those loose joints or out that hole. That air is just blowing into your attic, or into your crawlspace, or in between walls, instead of where you want it: where you are. That’s a waste of energy and will result in poor airflow in your home. Even worse, if the duct with the problem is the one pulling air back into your central heating and cooling system, then it will be pulling hot muggy air in through those cracks and loose joints making your system work extra hard to heat or cool air that should have just stayed where it was.

But what’s next? Don’t go far! We’ll be back with more from the friendly staff at GAMA Air soon enough.

Until then, are you itching to have a question answered quickly? Check out our Ask an Expert page, fill out the form, and get a fast reply from our resident HVAC expert.

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