What Are My Air Ducts Made Of?
The majority of in-ground/under-slab ductwork is made of rolled or galvanized steel, Transite (asbestos & cement), or sonotube.
What is Transite and Why Is It a Problem?
Transite originated as the trade name that the Johns-Manville Corporation (originally in Manville, NJ) created for a line of asbestos-cement products. In time, it becomes something of a generic term for other companies’ similar asbestos-cement products. Asbestos fibers were added to the wet cement that was used to form the original duct. This added strength and insulation qualities to the cement form. From the 1950’s through the early1980’s, many slab constructed homes on the East Coast used Transite to fabricate in-floor HVAC ducts (especially Levitt constructed homes). Trenches were dug, the Transite ducts were placed in the ground, the cement slab was placed over the top, holes were cut through the top of the duct, floor registers installed, and the air distribution system was in-place.
After 30 to 65 years of being subjected to the hot and cold blowing air through them, cement starts to dry out and release cement dust (a carcinogen).
What should I do if I have In-Ground, Transite Air Ducts?
Two potential options include encapsulating your ductwork with Duct Armor or abandoning the in-floor ductwork altogether and rebuilding with overhead ductwork.
Disclaimer: Atlantic Duct Armor is biased on this one! Encapsulating your in-floor air ducts is simple, takes just a few hours, and maintains the efficiencies of your original air distribution system. Duct Armor Material is certified for the encapsulation of asbestos per EPA standards. But you do need to evaluate your options. Abandoning the transite ductwork would require some or all of the following over a period of days, weeks, or months: 1) Filling the existing ducts with cement; 2) Purchasing a new, updraft furnace; 3) Permits; 4) Deconstructing walls and ceilings in order to run the new ductwork through your house; 5) Putting your house back together and painting…everything. Beware the temptation to put the new supply vents and the return vents at the ceiling level: This could lead to huge energy bills because most of the conditioned air never reaches the floor level. And if you settle for the lower cost flexduct option, you may be impeding air flow, thus increasing energy costs. Flexduct can also introduce more carcinogens into your home because of its fiberglass insulation which is usually protected with just a thin plastic barrier. (fiberglass is also a carcinogen)
What is Sonotube?
A heavy-gauged cardboard with a foil lining that was used for in-floor ducting in some construction beginning in the 1940’s. Moisture from water intrusion or even just humidity can damage these ducts over time. Also turbulence from normal usage over time can cause the ductwork to tear and break apart. When the cardboard starts to deteriorate, air flow is impeded and allergens are released into your home or office space. We can remove impediments and apply Duct Armor which will prevent further deterioration and improve airflow.
What If I Have Water In My Ducts?
Our video inspection will assist you with identifying the source of the problem. This could be a drainage issue or a leaking water pipe. It is our perspective that the water in the ducts is a symptom of a larger problem that needs to be fixed or you could eventually see much more significant damage to your foundation. There may first be a need for such remedies as rain gutters or drainage to draw water away from the foundation. Then we can apply Duct Armor to restore the integrity of your ductwork and air quality in your home.
What if I have Rusty Ducts?
If you see rust inside your ducts, your air distribution infrastructure is in need Duct Armor. Extended exposure to moisture is deteriorating your ductwork and releasing allergens into your home or office. Duct Armor will arrest further deterioration by encapsulating the surface of the metal and block out the oxygen and moisture required to further rust the ducts.
Is Mold in Air Ducts a Problem on the East Coast?
Yes. According to the Center of Environmental Prediction at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, we typically see atmospheric mold levels ion the 2,000 – 6,000 range. After Hurricane Irene those levels spiked to nearly 14,000. So called, “Sandy Mold” as a result of Hurricane Sandy was a big problem. And the record snowfall and rain that we have experienced over the past several winters contribute to higher mold levels in our region.
When mold spores get into our homes, they can settle in the air conditioning system and ductwork along with dust and other contaminants. Air ducts, especially during humid months, can be virtual incubators for microbial pollutants such as mold and bacteria. With the alternating high and low humidity conditions which regularly occur in our air conditioning ducts during normal operation, mold will produce spores and distribute them throughout the house. Natural humidity levels as well as the installation of humidifiers into our HVAC systems both contribute to this problem.
Duct Armor has a high zinc content: It will kill any existing mold via encapsulation and prevent any future mold growth because it is anti-microbial. (lab certified)
What Are The Signs That I Might Have Mold In My House Or Building?
Molds emit spores and chemicals as part of their normal life cycle. Individuals may exhibit reactions when exposed to these materials. Spores emitted by molds are microscopic and once airborne can be inhaled easily. Spores may contain allergens and can cause irritation in the nose, throat and respiratory tract. Common allergic reactions include sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, and skin rashes. Molds may also trigger asthma attacks in persons who are allergic.
In addition to allergens, molds may emit microbiological volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s). These chemicals usually have a strong and unpleasant odor and are associated with the musty smell that many individuals equate to mold being present. These chemicals are released into the air and when inhaled, can also cause allergic reactions. MVOC’s have also been linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
Some molds may produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. Mycotoxins are potent, toxic chemicals that can cause significant health problems. Different molds may product different mycotoxins depending on the surface on which they are growing. Mycotoxins can affect the central nervous system, the immune system, the respiratory system and the digestive system. Some molds may cause more severe reactions than other molds, so it is important that mold be remediated. For any severe exposures or health effects associated with a mold exposure, individuals should consult their physician. (Mold Advisory Bulletin, September 2004 from NJ Department of Health & Senior Services)