A customer called to schedule an appointment because their air-conditioner couldn’t keep up during the hottest winter months. Upon visiting the site and conducting the usual inspections and tests, it was found that the return air from the central air system had an enormous leak in the attic. This was a relatively new home, being built only four years ago. The homeowner’s energy bills had been higher than what was normal and the culprit of this problem was quickly identified and fixed. There are so many homes with leaky HVAC ducting and it doesn’t matter how well the home is insulated if the HVAC ducting has massive bypasses that prevent the system from operating properly. Imagine this return air duct in the summertime sucking in 130 degree air into the system as it tries to cool! No wonder why the homeowners couldn’t get their home cool on the hot August days. It is a simple fix. Just some foil tape and mastic. It should have been done upon the original installation, but so often the HVAC contractors hastily attach ductwork together without proper attention to detail. In this particular case the duct had been originally attached with only two pieces of low-grade duck tape. And yes, I say duck tape, because it isn’t rated for HVAC systems. Duct tape, or UL181 listed foil tape is an appropriate option. Even better, some fiberglass tape followed by a coat of mastic will be the most air-tight seal. Energy auditors call sealing ductwork the “low-hanging fruit”, and this is surely the case. The average duct system leaks 25-30% of the air before it reaches conditioned space. Having a properly trained individual or company seal your ductwork can, in many cases, pay for itself in one heating season. Have you inspected your ductwork? Do you have difficulties keeping your home warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer? Us energy auditors see huge leaks, like the one in this picture, so very often. Indoor air quality is also compromised when the return ducting has leaks that enable dust and insulation to be pulled into the HVAC ductwork and then into the supply vents in your home. Do you have problems with dust in your home? Let an experienced energy auditor asses your situation and fix these massive energy losses in your home.