Duct Leakage and Testing

Why Should I be Concerned about duct leakage?

Leaky ducts are a major problem!  Over 30% of the homes in Florida have leaks in the duct system. Why is that so important? There are several reasons. If your supply ducts leak, you are now air conditioning the outside of your home.  In addition, if your return duct leak, you are now sucking the hot, contaminated air from your attic into your home! (Insulation fibers/dust/mold spores/etc). Congratulations!  You have just brought contaminated air into your home!To me that is very important! In either instance you are not creating an imbalance of air flow in your home and a larger electric bill!

How are my ducts tested for leaks?

There are several ways to search for duct leaks. There is the Pressure Pan Method, the Duct Leakage to Outside Test and the Smoke Test.

  • The Pressure Pan Test measures the duct pressure for each individual duct, thus creating a process of elimination, from one duct to another.
  • The Duct Leakage to Outside Test reports what percentage of leakages a system has overall. Special diagnostic tools, consisting of a calibrated fan (or duct fan) for measuring  air flow rate and a pressure sensing device (called a manometer) are used  to measure the pressure created by the fan flow. The first 2 procedures use a combination of pressure and fan flow measurements,  to determine the duct work air-tightness of forced air duct work .
  • The Smoke Test is a visual duct leakage test and finds leaks when smoke is blown into the duct system. Since the entire duct system is sealed during this test, this harmless, odorless smoke will be forced out of any holes in the ducts, therefore pin pointing the leaks. Generally this is done after Diagnostic testing methods, so repairs can be made immediately.

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