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Al’s Plumbing — in Plano, TX provides Full-Service Plumbing; maintenance, repairs, and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs gas and electric water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in; Plano, TX; Allen, TX; Frisco, TX; and McKinney, Texas.  We service homes in southern Collin County, TX, and northeastern Dallas County, TX with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s Today To Discuss Any Concerns Or Problems You Have With Your Home’s Plumbing. 

We will arrange an appointment at your convenience.

This Is Part-2 Of Our Multi-Part Article About Ways To Lower Heating Cost With Your Existing HVAC System.  These low to moderate-cost ways may lower heating costs more than replacing your existing HVAC System.

Part-1: Locating & Sealing Air Leaks At Ceilings.

Part-2: Locating & Sealing Air Leaks At Floors + Ductwork Sealing.

Part-3: Burying Ductwork In Attic Insulation.

Click Here To Go To Part-1: AlsPlumbing.com Lower Heating Costs Part-1

Best Ways To Lower Heating Cost.

Locating & Sealing Air Leaks Near Floors.

Sealing HVAC Ductwork.

photo of colorful fall leaves

Image Source: ShutterStock

Heat Travels Toward Cold — Year Round:

  • During Winter: Heat rises out of the home through unsealed openings in ceilings.
  • As heat leaks from the home — it’s replaced with cold outdoor air through air leaks near the floors (like electrical outlets).
  • During Summer: In the southern 1/3 of the U.S. — attics can reach up to 170F degrees.
  • Heat from the attic forces into the home through unsealed openings in ceilings.
  • As heat enters from the attic — cool air is forced out of the home through air leaks near the floors (like electrical outlets).

Lower Heating Cost By Sealing Air Leaks At & Near Floors.

room with wood floor

Image Source: Shutterstock

  • 31% Floors, Ceilings & Walls.  
  • Nearly 1/3 Of All Heated / Cooled Air — Is Lost At These 3 Locations.

In Homes Built Before 1990 — There Is An Gap Between The Drywall & The Sub-Floor (what the carpet or hard-flooring is attached to).

The Gap Allows For Normal Expansion & Contraction Of Building Materials — And It’s Supposed To Be There.

In Homes Built Since 1991 — This Gap Is Filled With Caulk.

Source: https://www.yourownarchitect.com/should-sheetrock-touch-the-floor/

Click Here To See The Gap — In A Home Under Construction: Gap Between Drywall & Sub-Floor

(Note: If Link Doesn’t Work — Copy This Into Your Browser:)

https://www.google.com/search?q=gap+between+drywall+and+floor&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiAteXn6Y_6AhVokGoFHfm6CtIQ_AUoAXoECAEQAw&biw=1097&bih=554&dpr=1.75#imgrc=f7Y5XrAat_BAAM


THE FIX: Add Caulk Between (under) The Baseboard Trim & (hard-surface) Flooring.

In rooms with hard-surface flooring — it’s not necessary to remove baseboard trim to caulk between the drywall and the sub-floor.  Simply caulk any gaps that exist under the base trim, or between the trim and the wall.

TIP: This task can be much easier with the tips we provide here.  First, apply masking-tape to the floor, butting up to the baseboard trim.  Do the same above the trim — if there are any gaps.

TIP: Cut the tip of the caulk as close to the end as possible.  This allows it to provide the thin bead of caulk you need.  Use the corner-tool to force the caulk into the gap.  Wipe excess caulk off the baseboard trim & tool with a wet cloth.

TIP: The caulk will quickly make the cloth a mess.  For quick cleaning — rinse the cloth under a bathtub faucet.  The large water flow will clean the cloth faster and better than any other method.  

TIP: Once you’re done, promptly remove the masking-tape.  It’s important the caulk is still wet while the tape is removed.

This YouTube Video Shows How To Caulk Between Baseboard Trim & (hard-surface) Flooring

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video Link

TIP: Adding Painter’s Tape — provides a clean line in the caulk as the tape is removed.  The tape must be removed as soon as the caulking is finished — don’t let the caulk dry.


NOTE: For CARPETED Rooms:

  • The carpet must be pulled away from the walls to add caulk under the drywall.
  • Then, it’s likely the carpet must be professionally restretched.
  • It may be better to wait until you’re replacing the carpet.

TIP: If Your Carpet Has Wrinkles — It Needs To Be Rerestretched.  This provides an opportunity to add caulk.   

TIP: Before pulling the carpet loose — find a carpet installer who agrees to restretch it. 

Click Here To See Carpet (needing restretched) Before & After Photos: Carpet Needing Restretched — Before & After (scroll down a bit)

(Note: If Link Doesn’t Work — Copy This Into Your Browser:)

https://www.google.com/search?  q=Carpet+Needs+Re+Stretched&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZw6LC5Y_6AhVsm2oFHWDICPIQ_AUoA3oECAEQBQ&biw=1097&bih=554&dpr=1.75#imgrc=ubOZbaHi84xzsM


What’s Needed To Caulk Between Hard-Surface Flooring And Baseboard Trim — And Lower Heating Cost.

Shown: Inexpensive Caulk For Caulking Gun (Free Delivery For Amazon Prime Members)

TIP: The Long Nozzel Is Needed To Reach Where Electrical Wires Enter The Electrical Box.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

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NOTE: We Typically Recommend The Least Expensive Product Available (when an article is written).

In Some Cases – We Recommend The Highest Rated Product (by actual Amazon buyers).

Shown:  Caulking Gun

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

This website earns from qualifying purchases.

To easily install a clean edge in the caulk (between the floor covering & baseboard trim) — This inexpensive kit includes what you’ll need for various corner shapes.

SHOWN: Inexpensive Caulk Edging Kit

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

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SHOWN: Upgraded Caulk Edging Kit

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SHOWN: Inexpensive, Easily-Removed Painter’s Tape

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

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TIP: Painter’s Tape may be less expensive at a local home improvement store.



To Lower Heating Cost — Focus On Where Homes Leak The Most Air:

  • 31% Ceilings, Floors & Walls.Nearly 1/3 of heated/cooled indoor air leaks through openings (or gaps) in these locations.
  • 15% Ductwork Heated / Cooled air leaking from the ductwork into the attic.
  • 14% Fireplace (IF damper left open when fireplace not in use)
  • 13% Plumbing Penetrations through walls.
  • 11% Doors
  • 10% Windows
  •   4% Bath & Kitchen Venting
  •   2% Outlets & Switches

Source: U.S. DOE



3. Lower Heating Cost By Up To 1/3 — By Sealing Attic Ductwork

Ductwork Sealing Is A Moderate Cost Upgrade — With Tremendous Energy-Savings Potential.

(See Video Below For Details)

ductwork for hvac system

Image Source: Shutterstock


The 2021 Internation Energy Conservation Code (IECC) Requires Ductwork Leakage Not To Exceed .6 Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM) — Per 100 sq. ft. living space.

Source: https://www.iccsafe.org/building-safety-journal/bsj-technical/significant-changes-to-air-leakage-in-the-2021-international-energy-conservation-code/

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Found: For Existing Homes’ Ductwork:

  • 10% of the air coming from the furnace — leaks out of the ductwork.
  • 12% of the air going to the furnace — leaks out of the ductwork.
  • 22% of all air leaks out while within the ductwork.

Two Sample Homes — Using The Air Flow Calculator Shown:

  • 2,000 square feet
  • 8-foot ceilings
  • When the HVAC runs: 265 Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM) Of Air Flow Occurs.

Calculator Source: https://learnmetrics.com/cfm-calculator/

EXAMPLE-1: A NEWLY-BUILT HOME — MAXIMUM DUCTWORK LEAKAGE 

The 2021 IECC Ductwork Leakage Limit: 6 Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)Per 100 sq. ft. of Living Space.

For a 2,000 Square Foot Home To Comply With The 2021 IECC Limit .6 x 20 = 12 CFM Maximum Ductwork Leakage


 EXAMPLE-2: An EXISTING HOME — COMMON DUCTWORK LEAKAGE

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found Existing homes’ Ductwork Leaks:

10% of the air coming from the furnace PLUS 12% of the air — going to the furnace.

Ductwork Leakage for this sample home: 265 CFM X 22% = 58 CFM — Nearly 5 Times the 2021 IECC Air Leakage Limit

And HVAC Ductwork May Be In Much Worse Condition

Click Here To See Ductwork That Has Came Apart: Ductwork Came Apart – Example #1 (scroll down to top photo)

Click Here To See Ductwork That Has Came Apart: Ductwork Came Apart – Example 2 (scroll down to top photo)

Click Here To See Ductwork That Is Failing: Failing Flexible Ductwork – Example 3


The Cost To Replace Ductwork

HomeAdvisor says: “Replacing Ductwork costs $.50 to $3.00 per square foot of living space.  The actual cost will depend on the material used (Metal versus Flex Duct) and ease of installation.  Basement is easiest, Attic is next, and Crawl Space is more difficult. Replacing ductwork in a medium-sized home costs $3,000 to $7,500.  Large homes run $15,000 or more.”

  • Source: https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/heating-and-cooling/install-ducts-and-vents/

Do You Need To Replace Existing Ductwork?  YES.

How Long Does Flex Ductwork Last? 

SHOWN: Insulated Flexible Ductwork

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Flex Duct is typically made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Vinyl.  In The Southern 1/3 Of The U.S. — Flex Duct Lasts Only The Lifetime Of The HVAC System It Was Installed With (in attic installations).  This is because temperatures above 140° F cause Flex Duct to become brittle.  In the southern 1/3 of the U.S.  — attics can reach 170° F.

1. Fine Homebuilding Magazine says: Plastic flex duct will become brittle in time in an attic.”

  • Source: https://www.finehomebuilding.com/forum/thoughts-on-flex-duct

2. Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine says: “While PVC duct is an effective heat insulator, it has temperature limitations. For applications where temperatures may exceed 140°F, other materials should be considered.”

  • Source: https://www.pmmag.com/articles/103710-guest-editorial-when-to-use-pvc-duct-for-your-project

3. U.S Plastics Corp States: “The primary limitation of PVC is the recommended temperature limit of 140° F.  The structural strength of PVC Vinyl can decrease rapidly as the temperature increases.”

  • Source: https://www.usplastic.com/knowledgebase/article.aspx?contentkey=796

Replacing Old Flex Duct Can Do A Lot To Lower Heating Cost

Click Here To See A Photo Of Badly Deteriorated Flex Duct: Badly Deteriorated Flex Duct

(If Link Doesn’t Work — Copy This Into Your Browser:)

https://www.google.com/search?q=failing+flexible+ductwork&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZgJHzscn6AhUmkWoFHVATDjAQ_AUoAXoECAIQAw&biw=1097&bih=535&dpr=1.75#imgrc=NmiMGovtP-APfM


Attic Temps In DFW Can Reach 170° F.

Click Here To See An InfraRed Image Of An Attic — Showing A Temp of 170° F: Infrared Image Shows Attic Temp = 170° F. 

(If Link Doesn’t Work — Copy This Into Your Browser) https://www.google.com/search?q=infrared+thermal+image+of+attic+temp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj5hfuXpcn6AhUymWoFHYkbBJEQ_AUoAXoECAEQAw&biw=1097&bih=535&dpr=1.75#imgrc=aoaDimsWYmvhcM


Do You Need To Replace Existing Metal Ductwork To Lower Heating Cost?

Lower Heating Cost & Save The Cost To Replace Ductwork.

Typically, The Overall Best Solution, Is To Seal Existing Metal Ductwork That’s In Good Condition.

ductwork for hvac system

SHOWN: Uninsulated Metal Ductwork

Image Source: Shutterstock

You can expect Metal ductwork to last an average of 45 years.  Individual lifespans are 25– 70 years.  Moisture inside metal ductwork can cause it to rust.  If your metal ductwork has pin-holes within rust — they can be sealed by Aeroseal Ductwork Sealing (discussed below) — and give metal ductwork a new lease on life.  Sealing older metal ductwork will do a low to lower heating cost (and cooling cost).

  • Source: McGarry & Madsen’s Home Inspection  — https://www.howtolookatahouse.com/Blog/Entries/2021/2/what-is-the-average-life-expectancy-of-house-ac-and-heating-ducts.html
  • IF; you’re replacing your furnace with one with Similar Airflow, AND you don’t have Hot or Cold Spots in the house, AND the ductwork has been Tested For Leakage, AND is Determined The Leakage Can Be Solved With Ductwork SealingThere’s Little Evidence You Need To Replace Metal Ductwork.   Based on ductwork replacement prices shown above (HomeAdvisor) — replacing the ductwork can cost as much as replacing the Furnace & A/C with a new mid-grade system.   And, if the new system is mid-grade, chances are the airflow is similar.
  • If you’re replacing your furnace with one that has much higher airflow — the existing ductwork (metal or flex) isn’t big enough.  It may need to be replaced — or it may be able to be modified to accommodate the higher airflow.

Replacing Ductwork? 

If You Expect To Be In The Home Longer Than The New HVAC System Will Last — Metal Ductwork Will Be Less Expensive In The Long Run.

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video.

SHOWN: Risinger Homes Opinion Of Flex Versus Metal Ductwork

You can expect Metal ductwork to last an average of 45 years.  Individual lifespans are 25– 70 years.  Moisture inside metal ductwork can cause it to rust.  But pin-holes within rust can be sealed by Aeroseal Ductwork Sealing (discussed below) — and give metal ductwork a new lease on life. 

  • Source: McGarry & Madsen’s Home Inspection  — https://www.howtolookatahouse.com/Blog/Entries/2021/2/what-is-the-average-life-expectancy-of-house-ac-and-heating-ducts.html

One Of The Most Well-Known Ductwork Sealing Systems — Is Aeroseal (brand).

NOTE: This Is Not A Paid nor Unpaid Endorsement For Aerosol.  This Is Provided As A Courtesy To Our Readers.  There Are Other Companies Offering Similar Services.

NOTE Al’s Plumbing Does Not Provide Ductwork Sealing Services.

Aeroseal Duct Sealing Has Been Endorsed By:

  • U.S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE)
  • Consumers Reports
  • This Old House TV Show
  • Popular Science Magazine
  • The Today (TV) Show
  • Money Magazine
  • And others.

Aerosol and mastic showed no visible or measurable signs of degradation (during stress testing).

  • Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (aceee.org)  //Page 8 – Table 2.    https://www.aceee.org/files/proceedings/2000/data/papers/SS00_Panel1_Paper23.pdf

This Video Demonstrates Aeroseal’s Ductwork Cleaning & Sealing Services — While Being Performed.

Ductwork Leakage: BEFORE: 18% — AFTER: 1.4% = A -92% Ductwork Air Leakage Reduction.

In The Video (at time: 6:30 / 8:41) — The Tech Says He Typically Sees Air Leakage Reductions Of -30% to -45%.  He Typically Gets Geakage Down To 2%.

TIP: At Time: 3:20 / 9:41 — You Can Watch Aeroseal Actually Seal A Hole In The Ductwork

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

Click On White Arrow In Center Of Image To View Video.

Steps In An Aeroseal (brand) Ductwork Sealing Job

  • 1st – Ductwork is visually inspected for large breaks.
  • 2nd – Ductwork is cleaned.
  • A Computer & Sensors measure and control the progress.
  • 1st Seal Test — measures air leakage before sealing.
  • Seal off all registers with foam or plastic.
  • Inject Aerosol duct sealer into the duct system.  Aerosol duct sealer is endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Because the vents were sealed — the sealer must pass through leaks.  This ensures that the sealant is deposited precisely.
  • The sealer does not coat the inside of the ductwork.  It sticks only at leaks — as the sealer passes through them.
  • Holes & cracks, up to 5/8th inch wide, can become completely sealed.
  • 2nd Seal Test — measures air leakage after sealing + measures the decrease in air leakage.
  • A Report (showing decreases in air leakage) and a Certificate are provided to the homeowner.

Source: https://ductmedic.com/aeroseal/frequently-asked-questions-residential


photo of electrical outlet

4. Seal Electrical Outlets & Light Switches

The Department Of Energy Says:  2% Of Air Leakage Is At Outlets & Switches.

Walls mostly leak air where the drywall was cut open.  These locations are typically at; electrical outlets, light switches, and where plumbing pipes come through.

TIP: Leaks are not limited to outside walls.  Interior walls leak air too.

TIP: Reducing air leakage into a home — also reduces air leakage out of the home. 

TIP: Sealing air leaks at outlets and switches is easily done.   As with ceiling electrical boxes, in older homes, there’s often a gap around the outlet electrical boxes — seal that with caulk.  Next, add an outlet or light switch gasket — to seal the gap around the electrical outlet or light switch.

TIP:  Since you must remove the cover plate to check for gaps in the drywall — it takes only seconds to install a gasket. 

TIP: Though not specified by the DOE — it’s assumed the 2% leakage is through the outlets & switches.  Gaps around the electrical box leak much more air.  That number can’t be measured because the size of the gaps varies. 

A. Seal Any Gaps Around Wall Electrical Boxes With Caulk

Click Here To See Gaps Around An Outlet Electrical Box: Gap Around Wall Electrical Box

(If Link Doesn’t Work — Copy This Into Your Browser”) https://www.google.com/search?q=gap+at+electrical+outlet&sxsrf=ALiCzsbtOuXuZIKaXSFOixWIMBKjN874Jg:1663083867164&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi7zYiZjpL6AhUioWoFHfNWDvUQ_AUoAnoECAIQBA&biw=1097&bih=554&dpr=1.75#imgrc=IR7YX2iLdB_k1M

TIP: Many sources recommend sealing the gap around ceiling & wall electrical boxes with Spray Foam.  Spray foam is horribly messy to work with, and will likely dispense too much foam, which must then be removed.  Use spray foam only if a gap is too wide for caulk.

TIP: Try sealing any gap with caulk before using spray foam.

TIP: Use the same caulk product & caulking gun suggested for ceiling electrical boxes earlier.  

B. Add A Foam Gasket Around Electrical Outlets & Light Switches

photo of electrical outlet

Image Source: Shutterstock

SHOWN: The dark area between the outlet & trim-plate — Is A Gap.

Foam gaskets are very inexpensive and easily installed.  They provide a seal between the trim-plate’s edges and the outlet or switch.  Gaskets are designed with punch-outs for; electrical outlet, standard & wide light switch.

Shown: (50) Foam Gaskets

Gaskets are designed with punch-outs for; electrical outlet, standard or wide light switch.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

This website earns from qualifying purchases.

 

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Shown:  (100) Foam Gaskets (same product as 50-count)

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

This website earns from qualifying purchases.

C. To Stop Airflow Through The Outlet — Insert Child-Resistant Outlet Covers In Unused Outlets 

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Shown: 38-Pack Of Child-Resistant Outlet Covers

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5. Lower Heating Costs By Sealing Where Plumbing Comes Through Walls

photo of water and sewer pipes under kitchen sink

Image Source: CanStockPhoto

SHOWN: The dark area between the sewer pipe (center of image) and the wall — Is A Gap.

In older homes, it’s common for gaps to exist where plumbing comes through walls.  Because these gaps are low on the walls, cold air enters through these gaps during winter.

TIP: Add Caulk To Seal The Gap Between The Sewer Pipe & The Wall.

In older homes — it’s not uncommon for holes to exist where plumbing comes through walls.  If plumbing repairs have been done, the plumber must cut a hole in the drywall to gain access for repairs.

NOTE: Plumbers don’t repair walls — only the plumbing.

This YouTube Video Demonstrates How To Replace Drywall After Plumbing Repairs

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video Link

TIP: Unless You Have Great Carpentry Skills — There’s An Easier Way To Cover Holes In Drywall. 

Foam-Core Poster Board Can Be Installed Over The Hole — Eliminates The Need For Precise Trimming + Drywalling Taping & Adding Drywall-Compound On Seams.

Image Source: Author’s Home

SHOWN: Foam-Core Poster-Board Covering Large Holes In Drywall.

What’s Needed To Make This A Poster-Board Cover Repair

Shown:  (16) Foam-Core Poster Board.  Size: 16.5″ X 11.75″.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

This website earns from qualifying purchases.

STEPS: To Attach Poster-Board To The Wall:

  • Cut the poster-board with a Drywall Knife.
  • TIP: Cut the poster board as needed to cover the hole.  No need to fit it within the hole.

Shown:  Inexpensive Drywall Knife

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  • Use the same caulk (as recommended for all previous air sealing efforts in this article).
  • Apply caulk to the back side of the poster board.
  • Stick the poster-board to the wall.
  • Cover the edges of the poster-board with Duck Tape and stick the tape to wall.
  • After a few days, the tape can be removed, or simply left in place.

Shown:  Inexpensive White Duct Tape 20 Yards Long x 1.9″ Wide

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com.

This website earns from qualifying purchases.

  • Caulk all remaining gaps between the pipes and poster-board

 

 

 

 

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This Was Part-1 Of Our Multi-Part Article For Uncommon Ways To Lower Heating Costs.  It’s focus was on sealing air-leaks.  Al’s Plumbing — in Plano, TX provides Full-Service Plumbing; maintenance, repairs, and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs gas and electric water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in; Plano, TX; Allen, TX; Frisco, TX; and McKinney, Texas.  We service all homes in southern Collin County, TX, and northeastern Dallas County, TX with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s Today To Discuss Any Concerns Or Problems You Have With Your Home’s Plumbing. 

We will arrange an appointment at your convenience

Thoughts on Flex Duct?