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Home Duct Insulation

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Have you checked your home’s duct insulation? As much as 50 percent of the energy used to heat or cool air can be wasted if ducts are not sealed and insulated properly.

Your home’s duct system is a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings that carries the air from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner to each room. Ducts are made of sheet metal, fiber glass, or other materials.

Ducts operate more efficiently in conditioned air at room temperature, and not so well in excessively hot or cold attics and crawl spaces.

Minor duct repairs are easy to do, Here are a few simple tips.

Duct Insulation Tips

    • Check your ducts for air leaks. First, look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and then look for obvious holes.
    • If you use tape to seal your ducts, avoid duct tape. The EPA recommends mastic or Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 181 approved tapes, such as metal-backed tape, to seal ducts.
    • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both.Note: Water pipes and drains in unconditioned spaces could freeze and burst if the heat ducts are fully insulated, because there would be no heat source to prevent the space from freezing in cold weather. However, using an electric heating tape wrap on the pipes can prevent this problem.
    • If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.
    • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.
  • For new construction, place ducts in conditioned space (space that is heated and cooled) instead of running ducts through unconditioned areas like the crawl space or attic, which is less efficient.

For more information about duct systems and duct insulation ,visit the Department of Energy.

Updated: November 9, 2012 — 4:20 pm

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