duct tape HVAC ducts

Why Duct Tape Doesn’t Work for HVAC Ducts, Part 1

There are several examples of words or terms in the English language that just don’t make a whole lot of sense, and one that fits right into the HVAC world is duct tape. The word “duct” included in this title seems to pretty clearly indicate that this tape will be effective for sealing or otherwise repairing HVAC air ducts – but in reality, this is not the case at all, and duct tape is not recommended for these uses at all.

At Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric, we’re happy to offer numerous HVAC services, from AC or furnace installation to many duct-related themes, including installation of ductless mini-split heating systems for those who want to remove any duct concerns whatsoever. We’re also here to steer you away from certain homeowner HVAC mistakes, one of the most common of which is using duct tape for HVAC ducts when this should never be done. This two-part blog will go over why duct tape and other forms of HVAC tape are limited at best in their efficacy when it comes to duct sealing or repairs, and generally should not be used for these purposes.

History of Duct Tape

For starters, it’s helpful to understand the history of duct tape to grasp exactly why it’s become such a misnomer today. Duct tape was created during the World War I period, originally meant as a consumer-grade tape that was meant for ammunition boxes. At the time, it was actually known as “duck” tape – either because it was made with duck cloth or because of the images its water-resistant properties invoked of water slipping off a duck’s back.

By the 1950s, however, this name had changed. Somehow, with folks assuming this tape would be useful for their air ducts, the term shifted to duct tape. However, as we’ll dig into further in our subsequent sections, duct tape is not actually useful for these purposes – more below.

Moisture Concerns

One of the top concerns with modern forms of HVAC tape, including duct tape, is moisture reaction. Many ducts will deal with water vapor and moisture, plus could have crack or leak issues that cause small amounts of condensed water to seep out. If you’re attempting to cover these issues with HVAC tape, it will not properly prevent this moisture leakage, leading to mold issues, water damage and other concerns.

Temperature Issues

Another major problem with duct tape is its inability to resist temperature changes. Your air ducts go through a wide range of temperatures throughout the year, but these fluctuations will wear down duct tape and cause it to lose its adhesive properties fairly quickly. What good is a sealant tape for an HVAC system if it can’t stay attached? None, really.

For more on why duct tape isn’t actual meant for your air ducts, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services, speak to the staff at Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric today.