Updated: July 2024

Are you noticing a reduced efficiency, effectiveness, or reduced air quality in your home? The culprit might be a blocked air duct! At Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning, our experts feel that an informed consumer overall makes better choices when it comes to knowing when to call in for maintenance and repair. To help you understand the inner working of your system, and how to recognize warning signs, we’ve created a list of common problems and potential solutions for your air duct woes!

Do you need air conditioning or furnace maintenance in the St. Charles area? If so, the trained specialists at Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning have you covered! Contact us today to get the professional assistance you need!

Air Ducts: Difference Between a Return and Supply Duct

It’s easy to think of the ductwork in your home as simply a network of ducts that meander around the home, but there’s some rhyme and reason to the placement and purpose of your ducts.

The supply ducts are what you typically think of when you consider the ductwork of your home. This moves conditioned air from your system, throughout the home to control temperatures in the desired way.

Return ducts essentially passively ‘collect’ the air in your home, pulling it into the system to be filtered, dehumidified, and conditioned to reach the desired temperatures. You can find the return ducts around your home by looking for those square or rectangular vent grates, usually located along walls. These can be found in every room in your home, or a few key centrally located areas.

Why is the difference important? Well, which duct aspect we’re talking about has an important influence on potential problems and solutions!

Common Issues with Return Ducts: Clogs and Leaks

When specifically talking about your return ducts, you can run across a few frustrating but common issues, including:

  • Blocked air duct. You can generally identify a blocked air duct by a distinct drop in heating and cooling efficiency, increased energy costs, and occasionally a musty, dusty smell throughout the home. The blockage usually comes over time, by a buildup of dust and debris that just accumulates until it begins choking the system. To alleviate this, perform consistent home maintenance, as well as utilize the help of a professional with professional HVAC maintenance! You can also specifically schedule duct cleaning!
  • Leaky return air ducts. A leaky duct specifically refers to ductwork that has become loose or damaged. You can usually spot this from musty smells throughout the home, or weak heating and cooling. Loose and leaky ductwork isn’t necessarily a consistent issue, but we do find it to be a common one. Many homeowners never consider their ductwork until something goes wrong. Don’t do this!

So how can you tell if your system is blocked, or if it’s possible leaking? Honestly, it’s very hard to diagnose without the training and efforts of a professional. To get a good idea of what’s wrong with your duct system, it takes time and effort to get in there and see what has gone wrong! To avoid these problems as much as possible and reduce the frequency, be sure to change your filter frequently and clean the vent grate. The grate collects dust like a fleece jacket in a sawmill, so stay on top of it!

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