4 Common Causes Of Duct Damage

4 Common Causes Of Duct Damage

Even though most of your ductwork is tucked away behind your walls, certain conditions within your home can still damage your ducts. Understanding the risk factors for duct damage will help you recognize when your own ducts may be damaged so you can call for repairs when needed.


Most residential air ducts are made with aluminum or galvanized steel sheet metal. Sheet metal is chosen so often because it is affordable and flexible, and its smooth surfaces are easy to clean. Unfortunately, these benefits come with a downside: sheet metal is susceptible to rust.

Rust can develop in air ducts when the air moving through them has a high moisture content. Moisture from the air that condenses inside your ductwork has nowhere to go, so it will settle inside the duct and begin to oxidize the metal it is in contact with.

Moisture that can cause rusted ductwork can come from a variety of sources. Naturally, you may have problems with rusty ductwork if you live in a particularly humid climate. Moisture may also enter your ducts when condensation blows off the evaporator coils or if a plumbing leak allows water to flow into them directly. Lastly, you may experience problems if your air conditioner is oversized and it cycles too quickly to dehumidify the air properly.

Impacts and Collapses

Sheet metal ducts are rigid and reasonably durable, but they can still crumple from impact damage. This is a problem most frequently in exposed ductwork in attics and basements. Ducts can also sustain damages from impacts during installation or remodeling, and these crumpled sections can remain hidden in your walls until a professional duct inspection.

Crumpled ducts can create problematic airflow blockages, but this effect is even more pronounced when a section of ductwork collapses. Most duct collapses are the result of age, though they can certainly come from mechanical impacts as well. Ducts are most likely to collapse in weak points like joints that turn corners in your walls or near loose or corroded seams.

Pest Intrusion

Pests enjoy the moisture and warmth in air ducts, and many will try to build nests inside ducts if they find an access point from outside. The pests that pose the biggest risk to your ductwork are mice, squirrels, and raccoons.

Rodents and raccoons can chew through duct insulation, vent covers, and thin sections of ductwork. Raccoons can even collapse sections of ductwork with their weight. Rodents use flammable materials like dried leaves and twigs to build their nests, so rodent nests in ducts can pose a fire hazard as they trap heat. You may have pests living in your ducts if you notice strange odors from your vents or banging sounds behind your walls.


Professional duct inspection and cleaning can detect and eliminate all of the issues mentioned above. For this reason, the most significant factor that affects the health of your ductwork is how often you invest in professional maintenance.

Homeowners who neglect duct maintenance can potentially create a bigger problem in the future. Mold growth can run rampant in neglected ducts, and dust buildup can damage your furnace, air conditioner, and other HVAC appliances. Yearly duct inspections should be your goal to avoid expensive repairs later and get the best performance from your ductwork.

Duct damage impacts your home in a wide variety of ways. If you suspect that damage in your ductwork has caused reduced energy efficiency, frequent repairs, or poor indoor air quality, call Baton Rouge Air Conditioning and Heating today. We look forward to helping you with your ductwork needs.

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