The Cost of Leaky Ducts

According to studies, leaky duct work increase total cooling and heating energy usage by as much as 30%. That’s 30 cents out of every $1 you pay in energy bills. Over the course of a year, this can add up to hundreds of wasted dollars.

Central air conditioning systems of today have come a long way. Federal regulations require that all air conditioning equipment be measured and labeled with a “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” (SEER) number. This number tells how efficient your system is. Just a few years ago the average SEER rating was 10. Today, the federally mandated SEER is 13 and manufacturers are producing systems as high as 21 SEER.

Unfortunately, many homeowners despite paying thousands to replace older equipment will not reap the full benefits of their new advanced systems due to leaky duct systems. If your new high efficiency system is hooked up to a leaky duct system, studies have shown that an HVAC unit rated 13 SEER will perform more like a system with 7or 9 SEER.

Below are some signs that may indicate you have leaky, poorly insulated or inefficient ducts along with how you can benefit from sealing your ducts.


  • You have high summer and winter utility bills
  • You have rooms that are difficult to heat and cool
  • You have stuffy rooms that never seem to feel comfortable
  • You ducts are located in an attic, unfinished basement, crawlspace, or garage
  • You find tangled or kinked flexible ducts in your system


  • Save money. Leaky ducts can reduce heating and cooling efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers your energy bills, and can often pay for itself in energy savings. Plus, if you’re planning to install new heating and cooling equipment, a well designed sealed duct system may allow you to downsize to a smaller, less costly heating and cooling system that will provide better dehumidification.
  • Improve comfort. Sealing and insulating ducts can help with common comfort problems, such as rooms that are too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.
  • Enhance Indoor Air Quality. Fumes from household and garden chemicals, insulation particles, and dust can enter your duct system, aggravating asthma and allergy problems. Sealing ducts can help improve indoor air quality by reducing the risk of pollutants entering ducts and circulating through your home.
  • Promote safety. During normal operation, gas appliances such as water heaters, clothes dryers, and furnaces release combustion gases through their venting systems. Leaky ductwork in your heating and cooling system may cause “back drafting,” where these gases are drawn back into the living space, rather than expelled to the outdoors. Sealing leaks can reduce this risk.
  • Protect the environment. When power plants burn fossil fuels to make electricity, they release greenhouse gases. By sealing ductwork and using less energy at home, you can help reduce these emissions.


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