Is Your HVAC Tape Doing the Job?
A properly functioning commercial HVAC system makes for a comfortable workplace, but the benefits don’t end there. An efficient HVAC system can lead to healthier employees, less environmental impact, and savings. Every part of a commercial HVAC system is important for functionality, all the way down to the tape used to seal the ductwork. It’s worth taking the time to understand what makes for good HVAC tape. Is your HVAC tape doing the job?
Duct-related issues can affect the integrity of an entire HVAC system. Leakage caused by cracks and gaps can be particularly problematic, leading to poor temperature control, low air quality, and energy inefficiency. Avoiding these problems requires keeping ducts properly sealed.
Foil Tape Vs. Mastic Tape: Which Should You Use?
Both foil and mastic tapes can play an essential role in sealing ductwork. HVAC practitioners use both in different circumstances. The application environment – humidity, temperature, cleanliness – is the most important consideration when deciding which to use.
The Pros and Cons of Foil Tape
Foil HVAC tape is very commonly used for sealing ducts because of its material properties. A good foil HVAC tape is not permeable. It should be quite tacky and should immediately adhere to the surface it is applied to. It must be able to conform to irregular surfaces to create a tight seal.
The central issue affecting the use of foil tape is longevity. Foil tape tends to degrade and fail more quickly than liquid mastic, especially in situations in which ducts are older or tend to accumulate dirt, oil, or other contaminants.
The Pros and Cons of Mastic Tape
Mastic tape is less common than either foil tape or liquid mastic sealant, but it does have several advantages. It is weather- and UV-resistant, making it a good choice for outdoor applications. Mastic tape bonds instantly and requires no dry time, unlike its liquid counterpart. That makes mastic tape especially helpful for retrofit projects where it is desirable to immediately start your HVAC system when the project is complete.
A well-known problem with mastic sealant is that it is messy and unsightly. You may not prefer using it in areas where ducts are visibly exposed. Mastic tape solves this problem, providing some of the benefits of mastic sealant without the mess.
Do You Need to Replace Your HVAC Tape?
If you observe tape failure when inspecting your system, you should replace it. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Use UL-certified tape. This ensures that the tape meets required professional standards. You’ll want to consult the International Mechanical Code (IMC), an essential resource for pinpointing which UL-certified tapes work best with which kinds of materials and joints in an HVAC system. Following UL and IMC guidelines will not only help keep your ductwork properly sealed, but will also ensure that your HVAC system passes inspection.
- Use tape that can handle the environment, including temperature, cleanliness, and humidity. Adhesion varies under different conditions, so be sure to choose the tape designed for your environmental needs.
- Tape flagging indicates failure. If you observe flagging, you’ll need to assess whether the tape was applied incorrectly, whether the wrong kind of tape was used for the environment, or whether the tape has simply failed due to age.