Your air ducts are one of the most vital components to your home's climate control system, and they can last for decades if properly maintained. However, they can often get left out in favor of maintaining other components, like the actual air conditioning unit and all its parts. Luckily, if there's something wrong with your ductwork, it's typically easy to tell. Here are some signs you should look out for, especially if you're using ducts that are over 10 years old or have gone without regular maintenance.
If you start detecting a strange smell whenever your air conditioner is running, there's a chance you could have mold or mildew growing inside the vents. This isn't particularly dangerous, not uncommon; mold spores pass through your ducts as they circulate air, and any humidity can cause some of these spores to start growing. Odors can also come from residue from smokers, or animals that found their way into your vents. Some smells, like that of something burning or of rotten eggs, can signify something much more serious; in those cases, turn off your system immediately and call for repairs before using it again.
Uneven Air Distribution
If some rooms are hot and some are cold despite running the air conditioner regularly, this could be a sign that there are gaps in your ducts that are letting cool air escape before it can reach certain rooms. One way to test this is by checking how much air is blowing from a vent in a cold room, and then doing the same test in a hot room. Apart from being an inconvenience, this can also drive up your electric bill if your thermostat is in a location not receiving as much cool air as it should.
Rattling and Banging Noises
Some noise from your HVAC system is to be expected, and ducts occasionally expand and contract during changes in air pressure, humidity, and temperature. But this noise can also occur if some joints are becoming loose, or have already disconnected. Regardless of the reason, your ducts should not be making constant, loud rattling sounds. If they're simply expanding and contracting too much, extra cushioning material can be added to muffle the noise, and if there are any loose or disconnected parts, a repairman can fix them for you.
Increase in Dust and Allergens
If your home seems to be getting dusty more quickly, or if you're experiencing more allergy symptoms despite being indoors, it's possible there could be gaps in your ductwork that are letting in air, bypassing your filter. This may be accompanied by some extra noise from your ducts, or a drop in the air temperature coming from your vents. If this is a consistent problem despite keeping your home clean and replacing your air filter, have your ducts inspected to make sure they are sealed properly.
For more information, contact companies like GNL Heating and Cooling.