By: Guest Contributor, John Dixon
Many of today’s health concerns – from allergies to asthma, to everyday health issues such as headaches and colds are often traced back to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). In fact, the EPA estimates that half of all illnesses in the U.S. today are caused by poor IAQ. Results from in-home air testing found that 96% of homes tested had at least one significant IAQ problem.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 2 out of 3 indoor air quality issues involve the HVAC system. An overwhelming amount of these can be traced directly to duct leakage.
Leaks in the ductwork allow surrounding air to be sucked into the system where it is then blown throughout the rest of the home. If a leak is located in a portion of the duct that runs through a dusty attic, or dirty garage, the contaminants from these spaces can be easily picked up and spread into other areas of the home. Most ductwork is hidden behind walls or in crawl spaces – areas that are often rife with dirt and other pollutants.
Leaks in the ventilation ducts are also a major catalyst for poor IAQ. Leaky ventilation ducts severely limit the effectiveness of the exhaust fan. This in turn promotes the growth of mold and mildew, and limits the elimination of smoke, odors and other air contaminants.
While some duct leaks can be repaired by hand, using special sealing tape or mastic, this old method of duct sealing can only be effective in areas where the ductwork is exposed. That leaves the majority of leaky ducts untreatable.
Faced with this dilemma, the U.S. Department of Energy, along with the EPA and others, developed a method of effectively sealing the entire duct system. Their solution is an innovative sealing technology, called aerosealing, which works from the inside of the ducts to locate and seal leaks.
Aeroseal duct sealing is applied as a mist of sealant particles that is blown into the interior of the ductwork. The microscopic-sized particles remain suspended in air until they come in contact with a leak. Here they cling to the edges of the hole, and then to other sealant particles, until the leak is completely sealed.
This unique process offers several significant advantages:
- Accessibility. Accessing all the leaks is now simple and doesn’t require wall demolition.
- Finding. The process automatically finds all the leaks. With traditional manual sealing, leaks can be overlooked or never identified.
- Effectiveness. Aerosealing ductwork is 95% effective at sealing leaks. Studies found it to be as much as 60% more effective than manual sealing.
For decades, issues related to poor indoor air quality have simply gone unaddressed. Today, with increased awareness of the problem, and new innovations, that effectively tackle their root causes, we have an effective means to make major improvement to the indoor air quality of our homes.
John Dixon is a freelance writer headquartered in Portland, Oregon.