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AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
A/C - HEAT PUMP CONTROLS & SWITCHES
A/C DATA TAGS
A/C DIAGNOSTIC FAQs
A/C TYPES, ENERGY SOURCES
AGE of AIR CONDITIONERS & HEAT PUMPS
AIR CONDITIONER BTU CHART
AIR CONDITIONER COMPONENT PARTS
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR FLOW MEASUREMENT CFM
AIR HANDLER / BLOWER UNITS
BACKUP HEAT for HEAT PUMPS
BLOWER FAN CONTINUOUS OPERATION
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - Air Conditioning "How To" Books
CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS
CIRCUIT BREAKER SIZE for A/C or HEAT PUMP
CLEANING & Legionella BACTERIA
COMPRESSOR & CONDENSING COIL, A/C
CONDENSATE HANDLING, A/C
CONTROLS & SWITCHES, A/C - HEAT PUMP
COOL OFF HEAT Thermostat Switch
COOLING CAPACITY, RATED
COOLING COIL or EVAPORATOR COIL
DATA TAGS on AIR CONDITIONERS
DEFINITION of HEATING & COOLING TERMS
DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EDUCATION, HVAC SCHOOLS
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
EVAPORATOR COIL or COOLING COIL
EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS
EXPANSION VALVES, REFRIGERANT
FAN, AIR HANDLER BLOWER UNIT
FAN AUTO ON THERMOSTAT SWITCH
FAN, COMPRESSOR/CONDENSER UNIT
FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS - HYDRONIC COILS
FAN NOISES, HVAC
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS LAWS & CONSTANTS
GAUGE, REFRIGERATION PRESSURE TEST
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) IN BUILDINGS
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
INSPECTION CHECKLIST - OUTDOOR UNIT
INSPECTION LIMITATIONS, A/C SYSTEMS
LOST COOLING CAPACITY
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
MOLD in AIR HANDLERS & DUCT WORK
NOISE AIR CONDITIONER / HEAT PUMP
ODORS in AIR HANDLERS & DUCT WORK
OPERATING COST, AIR CONDITIONER
OPERATING DEFECTS, AIR CONDITIONING
OPERATING TEMPERATURES, AIR CONDITIONER
PORTABLE ROOM AIR CONDITIONERS
PRESSURE READINGS, REFRIGERANT
REPAIR GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
REPAIR & DIAGNOSTIC FAQs for A/C
REFRIGERANTS & PIPING
RETROFIT SIZING for A/C or HEAT PUMPS
SEER RATINGS & OTHER DEFINITIONS
SPLIT SYSTEM AIR CONDITIONERS & HEAT PUMPS
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
THERMOSTATIC EXPANSION VALVES
WATER COOLED AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL A/C SUPPORTS
Beginning here with an example from ATCO™ Rubber Products, we list and describe severe deterioration in the plastic exterior and sometimes plastic interior of flexible HVAC ductwork used in heating and air conditioning systems throughout North America. We include product names, identification photographs, and suggestions for the detection & repair of leaky, damaged flexible ductwork.
ATCO gray flex duct HVAC ductwork deterioration: this article discusses ATCO™ Rubber Products brand gray flex duct disintegration failures with references to product failures by manufacturers of similar flexible duct work products. We include photographs illustrating heat-damaged flex-duct covering materials and we explain the implications on home energy costs when this material is installed in buildings.
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ATCO Rubber Products gray flex-duct deterioration in hot spaces
This article describes ATCO™ brand gray flex duct failures that appear as loss of the gray plastic duct covering due to brittleness that appears to be caused by exposure to heat (such as in a hot attic), with references to product failures by several manufacturers of flexible duct work, including Alloy Systems™, ATCO™ Rubber Products, Goodman™ flex duct, Owens Corning™ flex duct, Owl™ flex duct.
We believe that none of these defective flex duct products is currently sold but both may be found in older homes. Note: not all Owens Corning flex duct products share this defect and disintegration problem.
Thanks to Nate Stitzlein for these photos of ATCO Rubber Products gray flex duct disintegrating in an attic. As he reported, " I inspected a 1989 condo this afternoon and found this duct work in the attic.
Thought you might be interested in the images and the name of the company on the duct work." Mr. Stitzlein is a professional home inspector with Crow Home Inspection, llc in central Ohio and can be contacted at www.crowhome.com
The loss of the protective plastic covering on flex duct poses several concerns including loss of the duct insulation, increased air conditioning system operating costs, and possibly air leaks out (if supply ducts are damaged) or un-wanted attic debris leaks in (if return ducts are damaged), and in-duct condensation in the HVAC system leading to mold and indoor air quality concerns.
These gray ATCO flexduct images have the visual characteristics of thermally-degraded "gray flexduct" failures.
I suspect but don't know, that the reason that we see this failure across multiple flexduct brands may be that everybody bought the same gray plastic duct exterior wrap from a single manufacturer, simply having their own brand and text imprinted on it. Often there are such common sources across multiple product brands that are not widely known.
[Click to enlarge any image]
This ATCO gray flex duct or "flex duct" air conditioning duct work material is a defective product. In hot attic spaces or where exposed to UV light, the plastic of this flexible air conditioning duct material disintegrates leaving its fiberglass insulation exposed to also disintegrate, leak, or possibly blow into the building living space.
Replacement of the duct work is required - a significant expense, more so where damaged ductwork has been run in side of enclosed building cavities such as ceilings & walls. Where this duct is found in a building it should be replaced. When a heating or air conditioning flex-duct product has lost its exterior plastic covering the effects are these:
Below at Technical Reviewers & References we include Flexible Air Duct Installation Manuals, standards, guidelines, and contact information for several flexible air duct manufacturers as well as access to Flexible Duct Performance & Installation Standards provided by the Air Diffusion Council.
Other Gray Flex-Duct Products Surviving Attic Heat
CertainTeed Certaflex-G25 Flexible HVAC Duct : Attic Inspection
An example of gray flex duct that is surviving the heat in hot attic spaces includes these CertainTeed Certaflex-G25 Class-1 Air Duct material. Eric Van De Ven, our flex duct detective in the field, contributed these photographs. Mr. Van De Ven explained
You will notice in our second photo (above right) that while the flex duct in this home was not obviously heat-deteriorated, it had been cut or mechanically damaged. We recommend patching minor tears with a plastic or foil duct tape.
Certainteed makes a wide range of building insulation products including the flex-duct above and also FIBERGLASS DUCT, RIGID CONSTRUCTION.
List of plastic-covered flexible HVAC duct products that appear to deteriorate in hot spaces like attics
Readers concerned with deteriorating plastic and fiberglass-covered flex duct in buildings should see the several HVAC duct failure reports listed just below.
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Technical Reviewers & References