There’s this saying that goes around in the construction world: “If it doesn’t move and it’s supposed to, use WD-40. If it moves and it’s not supposed to, use duct tape!” It’s a cute saying, and there is certainly truth behind it. However, there is one particular repair that duct tape should not be used for, and that’s your ducts!
We get it, this sounds counterintuitive. You may be wondering, “okay, well if I have noisy ductwork should I just ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own? Or do I need to replace my entire ductwork system?” No, and no. There is a more effective way to fix your ducts, which we’ll get to in a bit. First we want to let you know why it is, exactly, that you shouldn’t use duct tape to seal up damaged ductwork.
It’s Called Duct Tape for a Reason, Right?
Right! But not the reason you may think.
Duct tape was created around the time of the First World War. It was (and still is) a consumer-grade tape available in most stores, with a cloth0back adhesive, and its intended purpose was to quickly seal up ammunition boxes. At this time, it was actually called duck tape. There are a couple potential explanations for this name. It was either due to its duck cloth-backed material, or because the tape’s water-resistant properties reminded people of how water washes off of a duck’s oiled back.
Around the 1950s is when duck tape transitioned into duct tape. This likely was due to an assumption that it could work on ductwork as a method to repair and seal them. Superficially, this may have worked. But tests have shown that it’s not a long-term solution. The problem is that duct tape reacts poorly to heat and temperature fluctuations, which is of course common in ductwork. The adhesive of duct tape soon turns too brittle, and the tape fails. You can possibly expect it to last about a month before it gives out.
Professional Duct Sealing Is the Answer
With professional duct sealing services, our technicians use special equipment, such as resin-based mastic sealant and metallic tapes, to ensure that the ductwork is made airtight. However, it takes more than just professional-grade sealing equipment to do the job right. You need a trained HVAC technician to accurately locate where the leaks are occurring and access them, which is something an amateur cannot do.
If you suspect that you need professional duct sealing, the best thing you can do is to call in pros to inspect the situation. You may discover that ductwork repair or even replacement is necessary, but you won’t know until you call. Avoiding the problem could leave you with higher energy bills, as breached ducts can cause conditioned air that you’re paying for to escape into unused portions of your home. You’ll likely try to compensate, without even realizing it, by turning the thermostat down lower and lower, when you really don’t need to.