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Thread: Yucky Ducts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    New England
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    906

    Yucky Ducts

    Hi - I live in New England, and my A/C system is in my attic. I replaced the A/H and Coil a couple of years ago with a Bryant Evolution system, but we kept most of the original (1987) duct work (insulated 8" flex ducts off a common insulated main rectangular duct). The static at high-speed is about 0.6 if you're interested.

    This weekend, I decided to remove an in-duct fan that I had put in years ago for a particularly long run but haven't needed since I put in the Bryant system. No problem, except I looked in the flex duct for this run and, as far as i could see, there seemed to be an intermittent coating of a damp, greenish mud going off into the duct. I don't think it was mildew because mildew usually adheres and this came right off onto my glove, but it wasn't pleasant to see.

    Now, admittedly, it appeared that I hadn't done a great job insulating the duct fan, as after I pulled off the insulation i wrapped it in, the fan itself had condensation on its outside, but the "mud" trail went way into the flex duct, as far as I could see.

    It's a 20+ year old system, but still, is that normal? dangerous? don't care? and if it's bad, what should I do?

    Thanks!
    /j (who needs to stop looking for trouble)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Naples, Fla.
    Posts
    1,403
    You could have it tested... but if it walks like a duck...

    1) Pls engage a contractor that understands all the variables at play... IE: filtration, insulation, static pressure, attic ventilation, TD, etc.

    2) REMOVE & DISCARD all contaminated duct work

    2) Upgrade your air filtration system

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    906
    Thanks..

    2) this is thousands of dollars - can you help me explain to the wife why we need to do this? What is your diagnosis?
    3) not sure what you mean by "air filtration". I have a spacegard 2000 filter now.

    thanks
    /j

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Naples, Fla.
    Posts
    1,403
    The Space guard is an excellent product - I didn't know you had it already. The Space guard is a MERV 10, Lennox has a filter cartridge that fits perfectly that is rated at MERV 16 (surgical grade)

    Contamination source is what I was getting at and improved filtration is one of the remedies. UV may also be helpful for you.

    No one could begin to make a diagnostics without being on site - that's why I recommended engaging a professional contractor.

    Mold, bacteria, etc that you have explained could be a serious health concern - don't fool around here, get a professional and ask for an AIR ADVICE test.

    What city are you in / closest to - I may have a recommendation of a contractor for you?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    906
    I'm in the 'metrowest' area of MA.

    Yes - i agree that it's odd to see it on the SUPPLY side since I have the filter.

    I suppose i should pull a few more ducts and see if they're dirty as well...


    /j

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Naples, Fla.
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    1,403
    Actually its not odd at all,,, just indicative of other problems.

    I'll ck my file & see if I have a recommended contractor for you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    New England
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    906
    Ok - I've talked to a couple of local contractors, they'll give me (4-figure) quotes on replacing all the flex duct, but no one wants to approach this incrementally. (I mean, what if the problem isn't confined to the flex?)

    I have a total of 7 20yr old flex supply ducts in my attic, they all start and end in the accessible part of the attic, all off the same aluminum main supply.

    Two are 6" x ~3'
    One is 8" x ~2'
    Three are 8" x ~10'
    One is 8" x ~15' (the yucky one)

    Point is, they're mostly real short.

    I'm thniking I'm going to get some flex duct and ties, wait for a cool day, and start pulling off the flex myself to see how extensive the problem is. Assuming the main supply looks clean, when I pull a duct, if it looks 'yucky' I'm going to replace it on the spot.

    To be honest, if I could find someone who would be willing to rent me their duct guy hourly (and I understand the hourly rate could be 3-figures), to do this sort of "inspect and replace" in one visit, I'd actually prefer to take that route. I don't want to do it myself. But no one wants to keep it simple.

    And it seems like it should be simple. I mean, if the muck is confined to the flex, this should do it. If i see muck in the main supply box (is that likely?), then I should stop, accept that I'm hosed, and get quotes to replace ALL the supply ductwork sheetmetal & flex. (maybe the flex should be replaced with rigid insulated aluminum duct, which I believe is more common today?).

    anyway - how would you go about this if you didn't want to make a big project of it? Unfortunately I live in a town with some very wealthy sections. I'm not lucky enough to live in one of them, but local contractors seem to think of this as a "white glove" town, and the stock response is to just rip everything out and start over 8-{

    thanks!!
    /j

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    ATL
    Posts
    56
    This is not the place to try and find someone to do side work pay the contractor just like we pay for whatever you do as a professional as far as your location I really feel sorry for you guys

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    New England
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    I didn't explain myself well.

    1) I think I know the right way to approach the problem (as described above)
    2) I'm happy to pay a contractor who will approach it that way, if I could find one. I can't, so I'm contemplating doing it myself due to lack of a better solution, but I'm not sure it's the right approach.
    3) if you guys have a better way, I'm happy to pay a contractor who will solve it that way.

    I'm just not willing to pay someone who says "oh, ashtrays dirty? I'll replace the car for you" 8-}

    People who have read my prior posts know that I post here to determine (and understand) the right fix to a problem, not to save a buck.

    /j

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Gold Coast of Connecticut
    Posts
    4,570
    So check the metal duct, if ok change all the flex with R-8 Foil Flex.
    Aire Serv of SW Connecticut- Gas heat, dual fuel and central a/c systems installed and serviced

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    burlington county n.j.
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    9,704
    Quote Originally Posted by Freezeking2000 View Post
    So check the metal duct, if ok change all the flex with R-8 Foil Flex.
    like he said take a look at the metal mains if they look good just replace the sections of flex, easy enough to do.


    if the mains are dirty get them cleaned then replace the flex.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    906
    Thanks - I've heard (and read here) some sketchy things about "duct cleaning services" - what's the right way to clean the mains so I can filter out the charlatans? 8-}

    thanks!
    /j

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    67,721
    Quote Originally Posted by jeffw_00 View Post

    People who have read my prior posts know that I post here to determine (and understand) the right fix to a problem, not to save a buck.

    /j
    Jeff didn't go cheap when he got either of his systems.
    Just, the contractor sounded better then he was.

    He's being wise, not frugal.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

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