How to Remove Air Conditioner Ductwork

When air conditioner ductwork becomes frail, it can begin to crack and eventually, holes appear. In some instances, particularly in locations where moisture is prevalent, mold grows, causing a health hazard. The ductwork might be repairable if it’s only slightly damaged. However, if it is too old or has mold growth, it must be removed from the attic and soffit spaces in the ceilings. This isn’t a difficult task, but it does require you to work in tight spaces and to wear protective gear to avoid health risks.

How to Remove Air Conditioner Ductwork

Start by putting on jeans, a long sleeve shirt, gloves, and a dust mask. Turn off the air conditioner unit by flipping the breaker to the off position on the main electrical panel. Once the power is off, you’ll need to get to the main trunk, which will be in the attic, usually over the garage.

Heating, ventilation and air air conditioning (HVAC) ducts are generally made of lightweight sheet metal, whether they are the solid or flexible type. A hole in the ductwork will cause leakage in the system and lower the efficiency of the unit. The most permanent solution for an HVAC sheet metal hole is to replace the entire section of the duct work. —San Francisco Chronicle

You’ll need a few tools and at least one set of helping hands to remove the ductwork. Gather together a drill-driver or screw driver, a utility knife, and tin snips. The biggest challenge will be removing the supply and return branches from the trunk without causing damage to the trunk. This is especially important if you plan to reuse the trunk when you install new ductwork.

  1. Remove the branch lines. The branch lines are the supply and return lines going to and from the trunk, a large box or rectangle. These will likely be held in-place by mastic, so it will require some work to remove the branch lines. Connected to the branch lines are takeoffs, which is directed tied-into the trunk.
  2. Remove the insulation from the takeoff. Around the connection to the trunk, you’ll see a takeoff installed, covered by insulation and duct tape. Pull of the duct tape and then, pull the insulation off. Use caution because some people have an allergic reaction to insulation.
  3. Remove the takeoff from the trunk. This will probably be connected with sheet metal screws and the circumference will be lined with sealant, which must be cut away with a utility knife.

Feed and carry the old ductwork out of the attic as you go along. This will give you more room to maneuver and check the trusses as well as the rest of the attic space for pest damage, water damage, and other problems.

How to Dispose of Air Conditioner Ductwork

The local trash collection will not pickup and haul away old duct work. You can rent a truck, but you’ll have to make more than one trip to the recycling facility and you’ll have to pay a fee for each visit. To save time and money, phone a junk hauling and removal service. If you see mold or are allergic to the insulation, call the junk removal service to do the job for you.