What The Duct is Wrong With Your Grey Ductwork?

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Every week, the detail-oriented folks at Green Scene Home Inspections will give CandysDirt.com readers an education in inspection. Want to see what they see? Tune in for “Upon Closer Inspection.”

The equipment and materials used in home building are just like your phone: there’s always something newer on the market than what you currently have. Following the analogy, this week’s Upon Closer Inspection would be like walking around with a Zack Morris style brick cell phone.

Grey ductwork, or grey flex duct, is a product that was used in homes, mostly in the 1980s, as insulation for ductwork. It fell out of use by the early 90s because the outer grey coating was found to deteriorate when exposed to high heat or UV rays. Which means attics are generally a bad place for it to function.

As inspectors, we still see enough grey ductwork in homes that it’s something homeowners should be aware of.

In the photo above, you can see the grey coating falling off the insulation.

Over time, the material completely fallas apart. Here you can see the exposed duct. In this scenario, the air flowing through that vent has no hope of staying cool as it passes through a hot attic.

As a home buyer, you’ll want to know if you have this outdated material covering your vents. It’s an indication that the HVAC system hasn’t been cared for very well, or it would have been updated already.

Also, because grey ductwork was voluntarily pulled from the market — not officially recalled — it is unlikely that insurance or home warranty will cover its replacement. And you do need to get it replaced. 

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