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Why is My Ductwork Sweating?

September 2, 2021

Have you ever noticed condensation forming on your ductwork? You might be wondering what exactly is causing this — or you may just write it off as no big deal. However, “ductwork sweating” is actually a sign of a problem with your in-home heating and air conditioning system that requires your attention. Professionals at AGL […]

Have you ever noticed condensation forming on your ductwork? You might be wondering what exactly is causing this — or you may just write it off as no big deal. However, “ductwork sweating” is actually a sign of a problem with your in-home heating and air conditioning system that requires your attention. Professionals at AGL Heating and Air in Charleston, SC are here to give you some important information and helpful tips on solving this problem before it worsens. 

What is Ductwork? 

Ductwork is vital to the in-home heating and air system — without it, your house would not be able to cool down or heat up. When your Charleston heating and air conditioning system blows hot or cold air to the ductwork pipes, they bring air to the vents that you see in your floors, walls, or ceilings.  

Ductwork found in crawl spaces or attics must be insulated, as the duct is exposed to outdoor conditions. Just like a koozie on your favorite soda can prevents the soda can from forming water droplets, insulation around ductwork performs in the same manner.

Condensation forms on ductwork when it is in the cooling mode only, typically referred to as “sweating ductwork.”

Having an AGL Heating and Air professional address sweating ductwork right away is critical, as it will not go away in a humid environment and will only worsen as it spreads. Avoiding the issue can result in wet ceilings and framing, rotted wood, warped floors, and possible mold and musty odors.

What Causes “Sweating Ductwork?”

A duct system must be free of air leaks and possess the correct amount of insulation. There are many reasons a duct system may condensate, but the most common reasons are poor insulation or air leakage.

Insulation

Let’s talk about insulation and use the soda can metaphor for a moment. Imagine your soda can has a koozie on it, so it’s not sweating. Now imagine cutting a hole in the koozie about the size of a penny. I’m sure you can guess what would happen – the soda can would start to condensate where you cut the hole because there is no koozie covering the outside of the can. The koozie was the insulation.

This same concept applies to ductwork. Tears or holes in the insulation will expose the pipe and cause condensation to form in the exposed area. However, unlike a koozie, the insulation around ductwork absorbs water — meaning one uninsulated spot on ductwork can cause the water to travel and ruin other portions of the ductwork. 

Air Leakage

Another reason for condensation is air leakage. Your ductwork has pipes that are connected, sealed, and then insulated. Over time, these seals can become poor and leak air. The purpose of insulation is to separate the cold pipe from the humid air in your crawlspace or attic. If cold air is leaking into the insulation, it affects the insulation’s temperature and ability to perform. This is when you would see condensation forming on the outside of the insulation.

Another reason is inadequate insulation. If the insulation is not thick enough or if the crawlspace is overly humid, the ductwork insulation may simply not be enough to prevent condensation. There are different insulation values for various locations — the standard value for Charleston heating and air is R-8 insulation.

Solving the Problem

Since the most common reasons for condensation are poor insulation and air leaks, addressing the issue of sweating ductwork begins with assessing the insulation and airflow themselves. Based on the findings, the issue could require new insulation on your ductwork, replacement of a portion of your ductwork, or the entire duct system.

How AGL Can Help

At AGL Heating and Air, we take pride in our work. When we install new ductwork, we use special tape for all of our seams so that the tape does not dry out and deteriorate rapidly, like standard duct tape. Insulation is then stapled, taped, and covered with a magic sealant on all tape seams to prevent the separation of insulation seams. 

Although we cannot control the ductwork environment, AGL can control the install quality of your ductwork and work to avoid condensation in high humidity environments. Contact us today for more information.

 

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