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Question DetailsAsked on 9/12/2016

Can we patch our air ducts or do we need to replace them?

We have had rat problems. Now that the rats are gone we need to address the mess they left in the attic, which includes an air duct that has been chewed through. Is this something where we can patch and clean the air ducts, or should we replace them all together? My biggest concern is health, but I also don't want to do unnecessary work in a home we will only be spending 3-5 years in.

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IF they were living in the airducts, so lots of urine and droppings and such, a thorough airduct cleaning including disinfectant aerosol misting of the ducting might do the job, while in severe cases replacement of the directly affected sections might be a better idea - at least for the accessible portions. Attic ducting in particular - assuming exposed - is not real expensive to replace and not a tough DIY job if flex duct.

If only chewed through and not badly contaminated inside, then yes they can be patched, though if chewed up all along better to replace those sections. In some code jurisdictions and especially in multi-unit buildings they sometimes have to be patched with original materials replacement, but that generally means metal or fiberglass ducting which the rats likely did not chew into - so if flex plastic ducting you can cut out and insert a replacement piece using flex duct splice collars at the joints, or if just a few chewed holes you can patch them with duct tape. Not the run of the mill gray tape at box stores, but actual real duct tape (ANSI/UL 181B-FX printed on it) rated for use on ducts, and be sure to wipe off the dust from the duct first, and use two full wraps - one wrap spiraling across as far as needed to patch the hole(s) with at least 2 inches of overlap past the hole, then another pass for the second wrap, making sure the final pass around the duct seals back to itself - don't just leave a loose end hanging - take a full wrap at the end of the repair to give a full circumferential pass to finish it off, sticking to other tape, not the duct itself - the tape free end will not stick long-term to the duct, only to itself.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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