What is the Lifespan of HVAC Ductwork?

August 28, 2023

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what is the lifespan of HVAC ductwork

If you're like most homeowners, you probably don't think much about your home's HVAC ductwork. Out of sight and out of mind, right? But those metal or fiberglass tubes that snake throughout your walls, floors, and ceilings play a critical role in keeping your home comfortable.

What is the lifespan of HVAC ductwork? The typical lifespan of HVAC ductwork ranges from 15 to 30 years before needing replacement, depending on the materials used.

It pays to understand how long your ductwork is designed to last. And our blog is going to tell you why.

Ductwork Has a Limited Shelf Life

Here's the thing - HVAC ducts don't last forever. The typical lifespan of ductwork ranges from 15 to 30 years, depending on the materials used. Galvanized steel ducts generally last 15-20 years before needing replacement. Fibrous glass duct board may last 20-30 years. Flexible aluminum and fabric ducts last about 15 years.

Why doesn't ductwork keep working indefinitely? For one thing, metal ducts are prone to rust and corrosion over time. Temperature fluctuations, moisture, and accumulated dust and debris take a toll. Fibrous glass duct board can delaminate or grow mold if exposed to moisture. Flexible ducts may sag, tear, or separate at joints. Basically, the very air flowing through your ducts contributes to their deterioration.

air duct installation

Ductwork Issues Reduce HVAC Efficiency

As ductwork ages, a variety of problems can crop up. Seams and joints may come apart, allowing conditioned air to leak before reaching vents. Insulation around ducts can become damaged or missing, allowing heat transfer and condensation. Pests can chew holes in duct materials, or nests can obstruct airflow.

All of these issues lower your system's efficiency and capacity. Old, leaky ducts can reduce heating and cooling output by as much as 30%! That means you'll feel less comfortable in your home and face higher energy bills. Simply put, worn-out ductwork makes your HVAC system work much harder to maintain desired temperatures.

what is the lifespan of HVAC ductwork

What is the Lifespan of HVAC Ductwork? Signs it's Time for Replacement

Wondering if your home's ductwork is nearing the end of its prime? Here are some telltale signs:

  • Higher than normal energy bills
  • Significant dust accumulation around vents
  • Noticeable airflow reductions at certain vents
  • Strange noises or vibrations coming from vents
  • Frequent need to replace HVAC filters
  • Stuffy or musty air when HVAC runs
  • Rooms that are difficult to keep cool or warm

If you notice one or more of these issues, inspection and testing by an HVAC professional is recommended. They can measure duct efficiency and confirm if replacement is needed.

air duct cleaning conroe

Replacing Ductwork - Maximizing System Performance

When purchasing a new HVAC system, always ask if existing ductwork needs replacement, too. If your ducts already have some miles on them, replacement may be suggested to maximize performance. New ductwork can:

  • Enhance efficiency and capacity
  • Reduce monthly energy costs
  • Eliminate drafts, noise, and vibration
  • Allow for proper humidity control
  • Distribute air more evenly throughout your home

New ductwork should be sealed and insulated to prevent leaks and condensation. Choose durable, mold-resistant materials suitable for your climate. Proper duct sizing is also important for optimal airflow. Investing in quality ductwork ensures your new HVAC system can operate at its designed efficiency.

residential air ducts

Keep Ducts Clean for Longevity

Once you have shiny new ductwork installed, be sure to keep it clean! Annual inspections and duct cleaning can remove accumulated contaminants. Take steps to prevent mold growth inside ducts. Install high-quality air filters and change them regularly. Keep ductwork free of damage. With proper maintenance, your new ducts should last 20 years or more!

In summary, HVAC ducts typically need replacement every 15-30 years. Watch for signs of aging ducts, as efficiency and comfort will suffer. When replacing HVAC equipment, also consider upgrading ductwork to maximize performance. 

With conscientious care and cleaning, you can extend the lifespan of your ductwork. Just don't forget about your home's hardworking ducts! Proper maintenance keeps your HVAC system humming along smoothly and quietly.

About 24/7 AC Repair Conroe

At 24/7 AC Repair Conroe, customers can call us around the clock for prompt HVAC emergency services and beyond. We offer the most affordable rates in the local area. To schedule an appointment, please call (281) 595-1808.


How do I know if I have bad ductwork?

Signs of poor ductwork include increased energy bills, insufficient airflow, unusual noises from vents, stuffy air, and rooms that are difficult to heat or cool properly. Consulting an HVAC professional to inspect and test your ducts is recommended if any of these issues are present.

Is replacing air ducts expensive?

Replacing a home's air ducts can be expensive, with costs typically ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 depending on the size of the house and the extent of the necessary ductwork.

What is a common mistake in ductwork installation?

One frequent mistake made in ductwork installation is improper sealing of all seams, joints, and connections, which allows conditioned air to leak before reaching vents. Another common error is insufficient insulation around ductwork, which can lead to energy losses, moisture buildup, and other problems.

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