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The Silent Culprit: How Ductwork Leakage in Make-Up Air Systems is hurting your bottom line

If there’s an unsung hero in the world of HVAC systems for tall buildings, it’s the Make-Up Air System. This seemingly unremarkable component plays a crucial role in maintaining indoor air quality and balancing air pressure within buildings. However, it’s precisely because these systems often operate behind the scenes that they become susceptible to neglect, leading to operational and financial setbacks for building owners.

The Problem of Leaky Ductwork

The primary challenge lies in the ductwork, the long vertical stretch of sheetmetal that distributes fresh air to each floor. Reports suggest that most Make-up Air Systems experience between 15-25% ductwork leakage. This means under-ventilated corridors, system balancing issues, and pressurization challenges. Add to this the lack of accessibility for maintenance, and you’ve got a long-term issue that turns into both an operational and financial liability.

Financial and Environmental Consequences

In concrete terms, inefficient ductwork can impact your bottom line in various ways:

Reduced Efficiency: The system has to work harder to maintain optimal airflow, increasing energy usage.

Maintenance and Failures: Leaks inevitably lead to more frequent breakdowns, and more breakdowns mean higher maintenance costs.

Carbon Footprint: Inefficient systems contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, costing you both environmentally and in terms of carbon taxes.

The Data Doesn't Lie

To get ahead of these challenges, here's some compelling data:

· Eliminating ductwork leakage can increase airflow by 20-35%.

· Expect annual energy savings of up to 40%.

· A well-maintained system can reduce greenhouse gas emissions

by up to 25%.

Plus, utility incentives are available to help fund your energy conservation projects. These financial gains often come with the added benefit of improved equipment performance and reduced maintenance.

The Power of Technology: Modern solutions offer a way out

Proper Air Delivery: Eliminating leakage allows Make-Up Air units to deliver the proper volume of air required for every floor, which in turn balances the system and significantly reduces energy waste and carbon emissions.

Not Out of Sight, Nor Out of Mind: Conventional methods of ductwork sealing have limitations. New aerosolized sealing technologies offer more thorough and durable solutions, offsetting the challenges posed by poor construction, aging materials, and lack of service.

Optimal Efficiency: Eliminating ductwork leakage allows for a reduction in the run time and speed of your fans. This leads to substantial energy savings and reduced maintenance.

Improved Air Quality: Properly sealed ducts mean better-ventilated corridors, balanced air distribution, and consequently, better indoor air quality.

No More Odor Transfer: Adequate air pressure in each floor eliminates the transfer of odors between suites.

No More Thermal Heat Loss: Properly pressurized hallways prevent cold air from entering the suite and hot air from escaping, offering energy savings and improved tenant comfort.

The Call to Action

Ductwork is generally out of sight, but it should never be out of mind. Leaky ductwork in Make-Up Air Systems is an issue that facility owners can no longer afford to ignore. With the availability of modern sealing technologies and utility incentives, the path forward is both clear and financially justifiable.


As we make strides towards more sustainable operations, it’s imperative that we pay attention to every component of our buildings, no matter how mundane or hidden they may seem.

Ductwork in Make-Up Air Systems is one such component that demands our immediate attention. By investing in modern solutions to tackle ductwork leakage, we not only optimize our operational efficiency but also make a significant contribution to the broader sustainability goals.



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