Thursday, October 2, 2008

Save Some Bucks – How to Seal Heating Ducts!

I am on a mission to seek out and destroy air leaks in The Condo so I can save money on my heating and cooling bills this year. According to it will be worth it too:
“EPA estimates that homeowners can typically save up to 20% of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% of total energy costs) by air sealing their homes
and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.”

One place to look for air leaks is in the heating and air-conditioning (also known as HVAC) ducts in your home (or Condo.) Air leaks make your HVAC system use more fuel and work harder to do the job it’s supposed to do. And that can cost you money. Especially if those air leaks are in the unheated/uncooled areas of your home such as a basement, or in my case, in an unheated utility room.

There are generally two places where air leaks occur and that you need to seal:

  • The area where two pieces of air duct are connected together
  • The area in the wall where the ductwork meets/goes into the wall
This is a very cheap and easy project that even a novice handy gal (or guy) can do. If you can cut and stick a piece of tape and squirt a can of shaving cream, then you are more than qualified to do this project.

How to Seal Connections in HVAC Ducts the Easy Way

MaterialsRoll of metal/aluminum tape (also called Sheating tape)
A ladder (optional)

Do It
Most the leaks in air ducts will occur where two pieces of the air duct are joined together. The quickest and easiest way to ensure that air isn’t leaking from the joint is to cut a long piece of metal tape, climb a ladder (if need be), and wrap the tape around the area where two pieces of ductwork meet. Smooth down the edges of the tape around the duct joint, and ta da! You’ve just sealed an air leak in an air duct connection!


Traditional duct tape has a thousand and one uses; unfortunately sealing ducts isn’t one of them. Cloth or plastic duct tape will loosen over time and you’ll have to keep retaping your ducts. Save yourself some trouble, spend a little extra money (I think it cost me only a couple of dollars more to buy metal tape than it would to buy regular duct tape) and buy the metal tape.

Mind the Gap: How to Seal Gaps between HVAC Ducts and Walls the Easy Way

Can of expanding spray foam insulation (for large gaps) or tube of caulk (for small gaps)
A ladder (optional)
Do It
If there is a gap between where your air duct meets the wall, climb a ladder (if need be), put the tip of can of the spray foam/caulk gun into the crack, pull the trigger to fill the gap with spray foam or caulk. Ta Da - you’ve just sealed a leak in an air duct!

Make sure you use spray foam in a well-ventilated place, otherwise, it may be best to use caulk for this project. After 24 hours, the spray foam will be hard enough for you to trim with a saw like in the video. I didn’t bother with that since I was sealing ducts in my utility room and no one but me, Husband, and possibly Blitzkrieg would see it.
Depending upon the brand and amount of spray foam that you use, this project can get a little messy. I recommend wearing old clothes and a pair of gloves. I didn’t wear gloves the last time I used spray foam and spent a week trying to wash dried spray foam off my hands with all sorts of soap, water, and ended up scrubbing it off my hands with a pumice stone. Did I mention that I had to scrub my hands raw in order to get the stuff off my hands? Ow. I would have saved myself a lot of trouble if I donned a pair of gardening gloves before I started my project.

Summer or early fall is the perfect time to seal your heating and cooling ductwork if not for one simple reason: You won’t singe your fingers on the outside of the heating ducts because the furnace is off and the outside of the heating and air conditioning air ducts are cool to the touch.

Trust me on this one. I know of where I speak.


Rebecca said...

This year I signed up to get a free energy analysis of my house. I found out about the program on my power company's website. They come in and find all the places your house is leaking and suggest ways to seal everything up.

I applaud you for taking matters into your own hands! For some reason that seems like a really daunting task to me, but I like that you show how to do everything step by step. I wonder how your power bills will be affected this winter?

Thanks for joining us for another great Thrifty Green Thursday!

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Rebecca - Taping the ducts wasn't hard at all and it only took a few minutes to tape around each joint in the air duct. It wasn't hard at all and I honestly can't see why someone would (over)pay to have a handyman come into their home and do the same thing because it was so easy. Of course if there were holes in the ducts that needed replacement, I would definately call in a pro.

Fortunately for me, my Condo is a new build and they foamed the openings around the ducts before we moved in. However, I did find that they didn't foam seal around where the water pipes meet the wall under the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. I could feel cold air around the pipes so I used the same spray foam method to seal around the water pipes.

I can't say for sure how much money I saved in my utility bills from just sealing the ducts because I'm doing more than one power-saving project a time. But I do know that my gas bill did go down since I sealed the ducts so I'm sure it helped.

Joy said...

Our house actually has radiant ceiling heat. If it sounds a bit inefficient to install a heating element in a home's ceiling--it is. We've installed double paned windows, put on a light colored roof, and improved our insulation, but the next step will be to someday install a more efficient heating system. Thanks for the tips and the pictures. You are far more skilled than I!

Mrs. Gray's Class said...

Thanks for this info - I forwarded it to my husband. I'm in charge of "form" - he handles the "function" of our home.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips. Good info :)

Anonymous said...

Well when it comes on me for filling the ducts its really a painfull job for me. After watching this now iam glad that I can fill my ducts easily.because the charge is under me to fill the ducts in my home

Anonymous said...

Well when it comes on me for filling the ducts its really a painfull job for me. After watching this now iam glad that I can fill my ducts easily.

Air Conditioning Ducts said...

This is some thing which will really helpful for me. I use to fill ducts some time, here I have found the perfect guideline now I m felling its easy for me. Thanks for providing such great information.

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