Signs Your HVAC Air Ducts Are Leaking

hvac ductwork repair

The cooling and heating of your home are possible because of the complex system you have in place. The system is made up of far more than just the indoor and outdoor units. The ducts and vents are also an integral part of the system as a whole. These are responsible for the distribution of hot and cold air throughout your home. If your home is not heating or cooling as it should, the problem might not be because of a faulty furnace or air conditioner. You might actually have issues with your ductwork.

HVAC ductwork leaks can be hard to find. Fortunately, there are signs of leaky air ducts you can look out for to determine if you have this issue.

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Signs Your HVAC Air Ducts Are Leaking

Read on to know the common signs that point to leaky HVAC ductwork.

1. Higher Utility Bills

homeowner shocked at expensive energy costs

Leaks in your HVAC ductwork waste energy. The conditioned air ends up in unwanted spaces like the attic instead of the rooms that you want to be heated or cooled. The set temperature becomes harder to reach and maintain, so your unit consumes more energy. As a result, you will notice your utility bill spiking even though you’ve been using your system the same as before. This becomes a costly issue that cannot be ignored.

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2. Uneven Heating And Cooling

You might have noticed a difference in the temperatures when you move from one room to the next in your house. If you have a central HVAC system at home, you expect it to distribute cold or hot air evenly. However, air leaks could mean that the rooms far from your system are not receiving adequate conditioned air. As a result, there is uneven heating or cooling. This is one of the leaky air duct signs that are hard to miss. You might try to adjust the temperature repeatedly, but the uneven heating and cooling will persist until the leaks are resolved.

3. Noticeable Dustiness In The Home

image of dust in house due to poor air quality

Leaks move air to unwanted areas. They can also disturb dust beds that are otherwise hidden in your house. These clouds of dust are pushed out and end up being scattered around your home. You might notice that your living room and bedrooms are dustier than before even though there were no changes in your daily activities. This can significantly affect your family’s health and well-being as dust buildup in your home can lead to respiratory problems, allergies, asthma, and other illnesses.

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4. Other Negative Effects On Indoor Air Quality

Aside from dust, leaky ducts can also spread toxic fumes throughout your house. The air can be pulled in from outside or an area where chemicals like thinners, paint, and pesticides are stored. These can be distributed in your home without your knowledge and could end up making you and your family sick. If there are strong odors around your house, investigate them immediately as this can be the reason behind it.

5. HVAC System Needs Frequent Repairs

image of an hvac contractor performing annual furnace maintenance

Old age tends to make your HVAC system break down more often. However, this should not be the case if you have a relatively new one. A well-maintained HVAC unit that only has a few years under its belt should last you for more than a decade. However, air leaks can cause your system to work harder than it should. This causes parts to wear out faster and could result in premature equipment breakdown. Fixing this as early as possible can prevent this from happening.

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Steps To Take To Locate Leaks In The Ductwork

Here are a few of the best ways to find the leak in your HVAC ducts:

1. Find Visible Tears In the Ductwork

Look carefully for holes and tears in your ductwork. Mark them using a grease pencil so that they are easy to locate when you are ready to get them fixed. You might be surprised when you discover how much the problem has been worsening over the years.

2. Turn The HVAC System On Full Blast

Adjusting and setting thermostat

If you cannot find the leaks, run the HVAC system on full blast. This will force the conditioned air around your home, so it is easier to feel the temperature difference when there are duct leaks. You can find nearly all the tears this way.

3. Inspect The Duct Joints

The duct joints are typically the weakest parts of your ductwork. They should be adequately sealed if you do not want leaks to form around them. When you think that you have leaky ducts, run your hand over the joints to feel if any air is coming out of them.

4. Remove Duct Tape

image of duct tape that was removed from hvac ductwork

If you recently moved houses, inspect the ducts to see if there is any duct tape. The former owners might have used it as a temporary fix to the leaks. It is recommended that you remove the duct tape so that a professional can seal them up permanently.

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5. Light Incense

Duct leaks can be visible when you light incense or use another source of colorful smoke. The smoke will swirl differently when there are any leaks, so it is easier to spot them. This is an excellent method to use for any leaks that are hard to detect with your hands.

6. Seal The Ductwork Leaks

Once you have completed looking for leaks, the next step is to seal them one by one. Contact your local, trusted technician to help you, so that leaky ducts never occur again. Experienced techs will apply permanent seals and find any other leaks you might have missed during your inspection. You can rest easy knowing that leaks are properly addressed when using a professional.


7. Test With Fog

You can test the ducts with a fog machine after the sealing is done. This will help you find if there are more holes that you might have missed. This method works best after most of the holes have been sealed so your house will not be overcome by the smoke.

It is always best to leave the repairs to a professional HVAC contractor. They are equipped with the right tools, skills, and experience to find and seal HVAC ductwork leaks. This way, your system can go back to working as it should.


Every leaky ductwork has its own challenges. Therefore, the methods presented above will work better in certain situations. A professional HVAC technician will determine which is the best solution to use in your specific case. They will find all leaks and seal them properly. This way, you can enjoy a cost-effective home, a longer system lifespan, even temperatures, fewer repairs, and high indoor air quality.

Call Wilcox Energy For Effective Heating & Cooling Solutions


Do you need reliable heating and cooling services in the southern Connecticut shoreline? Call Wilcox Energy today. Our team of professionally certified contractors conducts high-quality HVAC services. All of our techs are knowledgeable and experienced to perform HVAC maintenance, repairs, installations, and replacements accurately and promptly. We offer practical solutions to improve your air quality, system efficiency, and overall home comfort.

Rest assured, Wilcox Energy has the most competitive HVAC service rates in the area. Our tune-up services can help extend your system’s lifespan while also reducing your heating and cooling costs. We can also recommend the best repair or replacement system options that are affordable and budget-friendly. All of our works are backed with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. Book a service appointment and call Wilcox Energy today for a free, in-home estimate.

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For more information about our HVAC services, be sure to contact Wilcox Energy. You can click here to contact us, or you can call us at (860) 399-6218 to find out more. We offer a full line of heating and cooling repairs, maintenance services, and installations.