ATCO Rubber Products gray flexduct failure (C) & Nate StitzleinGray Flexible Ductwork Failures
ATCO Rubber Products Gray Flex Duct Deterioration & Failures

  • GRAY FLEXDUCT FAILURES - home - CONTENTS: Ductwork Deterioration & Failures in Air Conditioning or Heating Duct Products: gray plastic covered flexible ductwork failures found across a range of product brands means leaky HVAC ducts, higher cooling & heating costs, and costly ductwork replacement needs. List of suppliers of replacement flexible HVAC ductwork - where to buy flex duct, list of manufacturers & sources.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about Goodman gray flexduct deterioration in building HVAC duct systems

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Flexible HVAC duct failures:

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 provide flex duct identification & defect recognition 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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Gray Flex-Duct Failures in HVAC Systems: severe deterioration found

ATCO gray flexduct failure (C) InspectApedia Nate Stitzlein, central Ohio home inspector (C)

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.

[Click to enlarge any image]

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

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.

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.

ATCO gray flexduct failure (C) InspectApedia Nate Stitzlein, central Ohio home inspector (C)

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:

  1. The cost of heating or cooling the building is increased due to lost insulation: because the ducts are no longer insulated from the ambient temperature in the attic or crawl space where they are located. For example, an air conditioning duct passing through a hot attic and missing its insulation will be heated by the ambient attic air, delivering warmer air to the living space than is desired.

  2. The cost of heating or cooling the building is increased due to leaks: because damaged ducts are more likely to leak, cooled or warmed air intended for the occupied space may be lost in the attic or crawl space where the damaged HVAC ducts are located.

    In addition we might see these two indirect problems developing:

  3. Increased circulation of fiberglass particles from the duct insulation or from building insulation which may be picked up and blown into the building air supply

  4. Mold growth in the HVAC ducts due to loss of insulation and increased in-duct condensation in some circumstances. See Flexduct Lawsuit at our references below.

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

It appears this duct work is thicker than the others and wasn't deteriorated. It was installed in 1986 and this attic was at least 130 degrees today.

Certainteed Certaflex HVAC duct (C) D Friedman E Van De Ven

You will notice in our second photo below) 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 Certaflex HVAC duct (C) D Friedman E Van De Ven

Certainteed makes a wide range of building insulation products including the flex-duct above and

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 at MORE READING.


Continue reading at DUCT ROUTING & SUPPORT or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


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ATCO Rubber Products FLEXDUCT at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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