The HVAC air ducts in your San Diego, CA home shouldn’t be filled with moisture. Although these spaces are known for being a bit damp and dusty, excess condensation is a sign of problems. When left unchecked, it’s also a major cause of structural property damage. In addition, condensation in your AC ducts can affect your drywall, ceilings, flooring, baseboards, and more. Fortunately, you can take advantage of these eight tips to keep your HVAC ducts both clean and dry.
1. Schedule Annual HVAC Air Duct Inspections
The surest way to avoid excess condensation in your HVAC air ducts is by scheduling annual ductwork inspections. These visits will give our team the chance to check for rips, tears, and other structural issues that are affecting the performance of your entire HVAC system.
If there is excessive dirt and debris in your air ducts, we can take care of these too. Even when HVAC ductwork is inspected and serviced each year, it should also be thoroughly and professionally cleaned once every three to five years. If you’ve never scheduled HVAC air duct cleaning before, this may be why the interior of your ducts are filled with condensation.
2. Change Out Your HVAC Air Filter
Dirty HVAC air filters are among the most common causes of condensation in ductwork. Whenever airflow is impeded, moisture accumulates in these passageways. If you have water dripping from your HVAC air registers or vents, wet walls, or wet ceilings, check to ensure that the system’s filter isn’t covered in a thick layer of debris.
HVAC air filters should be changed about once every two to three months. However, if you use your HVAC system every day and have other factors that affect the filter’s viability, you may want to change it monthly. For instance, you should change this component out once every 30 days if you:
- Have indoor pets
- Get a lot of foot traffic
- Live near or on a busy street
- Live near an active construction site
If a dirty air filter has already caused massive amounts of condensation in your ductwork, putting a fresh one in won’t solve the problem entirely. It’s also a good idea to schedule an HVAC system inspection and invest in duct cleaning services. These measures will minimize the risk of mold and mildew development. They’ll also ensure that other possible causes of condensation are ruled out.
3. Check for Pest Problems and Collapsed Air Ducts
Much like dirty air filters, blocked ducts can create moisture problems inside your ductwork. This is why it’s important to schedule an inspection if you have been running your heating or cooling equipment with a dirty air filter or without any filter at all for an extended period of time. However, HVAC ductwork can also be blocked by pests that have wandered into these structures, loose or damaged components, and collapsed ducting.
One of the first places to check for collapsed or otherwise damaged ductwork is in areas where HVAC ducting is fully exposed. If you have exposed ducts in your garage, basement, or attic, even minor impact events can cause serious harm. If you hear constant rattling, scuttling, or other movement-related noises coming from your ductwork, schedule a pest inspection or contact our office.
4. Add Insulation
Insulating metal air ducts is a great way to prevent heat loss during winter. With adequate insulation, the warm air that your furnace produces can be efficiently distributed throughout your home without losing significant amounts of heat along the way. These efforts minimize one of the top causes of energy waste. They’ll also help your furnace heat your home up faster and minimize overall furnace wear.
Ducting that has been insulated is less likely to develop condensation as well. When HVAC air ducts are cold, a sudden influx of heated air will create condensation. Once insulated, your ducts will remain at a reasonable, even temperature all of the time. Moreover, the temperature difference between your ducting and heated air will be nominal.
5. Lower Your Indoor Humidity
Condensation in your HVAC air ducts is also a good indication of generally high indoor humidity. Although your HVAC equipment is designed to both regulate your home’s temperature and dehumidify the indoor air, its capabilities in humidity control are limited. If your home is excessively moist for other reasons, condensation can develop on your windows, walls, and within your ducting. If you do have condensation on your AC ducts due to your indoor humidity, your AC will need to be inspected.
There are many factors that can lead to high indoor humidity. If humidity levels are high outdoors, this moisture will find its way inside. If you have a large household, indoor activities like cooking, showering, and bathing can contribute to excess moisture as well. Although bathroom windows and bathroom exhaust fans can help to this end, these features won’t work if you aren’t using them correctly. For instance, bathroom windows should always be opened when showering and bathing, and they should be left open until bathroom surfaces have completely dried. Likewise, bathroom exhaust fans should be kept on during showers and baths and left running for several minutes after. They should also be regularly inspected and cleaned to ensure that buildups of lint, dust, and other grime aren’t inhibiting the flow of air.
In many instances, large family sizes and other environmental factors make it necessary to have an additional form of humidity regulation. Whole-house dehumidifiers work great in these instances. When installed directly in HVAC air ducts, these units help regulate your indoor humidity. They also keep your HVAC ducts dry.
6. Take Care of Water Leaks
Another common cause of condensation in HVAC air ducts are slow and hidden leaks. These are leaks that aren’t easy to detect but that are constantly adding moisture to the living environment. They might be hidden behind drywall or in crawlspaces, or they may be located behind major appliances at plumbing attachments. Check behind your washing machine and dishwasher, and look beneath all of your sinks. If you suspect that you have slow or hidden leaks in your home, it’s also a good idea to schedule a whole-house plumbing inspection. Fixing these leaks will limit your risk of having condensation form in your HVAC air ducts. It will also prevent widespread water damage.
7. Check Your Air Conditioner’s Drain Pan
If you have moisture accumulating around your HVAC air vents or grilles while your air conditioner is on, the problem may lie at the air conditioner’s condensate drain. When AC drain pans oxidize and rust, they lose their ability to catch and retain water. Not only is this an issue that can lead to condensation in your HVAC air ducts, but if left unchecked, it can additionally result in AC failure.
8. Have Aging HVAC Equipment Replaced
Corrosion-covered drain pans are but one of many ways in which aging HVAC equipment can cause buildups of moisture. As your air conditioner and heater near the ends of their lifespans, this and other problems become increasingly likely. Aging units work harder, run longer cycles, and often have significant buildups of dirt and other particulates inside. If your heater or air conditioner is more than 10 to 15 years old, it may be time to schedule a replacement.
Residents of San Diego, California and the surrounding areas can always count on us for timely HVAC system maintenance, installation, and repairs. We also provide air purification, HVAC zoning, smart thermostats, solar services, and advanced indoor air quality solutions. If you have problems with excess condensation in your HVAC ductwork, call Friar's Heating and Air now to schedule an appointment.