If your home is heated with a “forced air” heating system (typically a furnace) has air conditioning, then your home has ductwork running through the walls, under floors or above ceilings to distribute the heated or cooled air to the desired locations (i.e. the living spaces). If the ductwork has performance issues, which can range from simple leaks all the way up to damaged and missing sections, chances are you have a problem. You can end up with very poor airflow and numerous problems associated with that condition (rooms that are too cold/hot, stagnant air in parts of the house – even overly high energy bills).
There are essentially two functional types of ducts in the average home. The supply ducts move the cooled or warmed air from the air conditioner or furnace into the rooms as required. The return ducts bring the air back to the furnace system where it passes through the filter and is then re-cooled or heated as necessary.
In either case, if there are significant leaks, incorrect sizing, severe damage or missing sections, some fairly serious upgrading may be required. If the original ductwork is far too inadequate, a complete replacement system may be the best answer. It can’t hurt to have a professional provide you with an inspection and recommendation as to how well your home’s ductwork is functioning (don’t be afraid to obtain 2 or 3 quotations). If it’s just a matter of some leakage or small modifications, material for sealing is readily available for the “do it yourselfer”- just check with your local hardware provider.
If you’re considering having a professional energy audit performed on your home, the ductwork is one area that they will provide a comprehensive analysis. Either way, a correctly performing ductwork system goes a long way towards total in home comfort.