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The rising cost of energy has homeowners across Georgia working hard this fall to make home improvements that will reduce their energy use to save money and lower their carbon footprint. Some of the most effective ways to conserve energy during the winter months include scheduling your annual preventive maintenance on the furnace, sealing air leaks in your home’s envelope, and shoring up and insulating ductwork to prevent air from escaping.
But Don’t Overlook the Registers!
One of the most overlooked problem areas of the HVAC system is the connection between the ducts and the return and supply registers, which are notoriously leaky.
Return registers, also known as cold air returns, transport cold air from your rooms to the air handler of your furnace, where it passes through the filter and flows over the heat exchanger to be warmed. The warm air leaves the furnace, travels through the ducts, and emerges at the supply registers.
Loose connections and gaps between the return and supply registers and the floor, wall, or ceiling can result in considerable air loss, which wastes energy, costs you money, and reduces your comfort level. Sealing the connections between the ducts and the registers is essential for efficiency and comfort.
Sealing the Registers
Large gaps between ducts and registers will require self-adhesive fiberglass mesh and mastic sealant, which is an airtight, water-based adhesive. Smaller leaks can be sealed with mastic alone.
The first step is to remove the register grilles, which are typically screwed to the wall, floor, or ceiling. Use the hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner to remove dust, cobwebs and other debris from the vent and around the opening. Use a damp cloth to clean the surfaces that you’ll be sealing, and let them dry thoroughly.
If the gap is large, first apply the fiberglass mesh around the gap between the duct and the wall, floor, or ceiling, and press it firmly to create a tight seal. Apply the mastic sealant over the mesh, using your hands (protected with cotton gloves) or a cheap paintbrush. If the gap is very small, skip the mesh and apply the sealant directly to the gap. The mastic should be about the thickness of a nickel. Keep the furnace turned off until the sealant has dried, which can take anywhere from two to six hours, and replace the grilles.
More Register Tips
Sealing your return and supply registers can go a long way toward improving the energy efficiency of your house, but there are two additional common issues with registers that can reduce efficiency and comfort.
First, it’s essential to remove obstructions, such as furniture and draperies, from in front of return and supply registers. Obstructions restrict the flow of air to and from the furnace, which can damage your system, and they prevent the optimum distribution of air throughout the room.
Secondly, it’s common practice to close off supply registers in unused rooms to save on energy costs. However, closing off more than 20 percent of the registers in your home can create serious airflow problems to the system, which can actually increase your energy bills and result in your furnace overheating.
For more expert advice about sealing your registers, please contact us at Comfort Control Heating & Air.