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Ron Canneli is a certified crawl space environment specialist, and actually was among those who pioneered the crawl space encapsulation technology in New England.
His company, Northeast Basement Systems Boston has fixed thousands of crawl spaces in in Greater Boston, and SE New Hampshire, since 2002!
In this Ask the Expert video, Ron explains how HVAC ducts running through a hostile environment such as a vented crawl space can contribute to significant energy waste and create moisture problems as well.
During the summer the cool air flowing through the ducts, meets hot damp air coming into the crawl space through the open vents. The air that you paid to cool is gaining heat before it makes into the upstairs rooms that it is supposed to cool. Your air conditioner will have to work much harder to keep up.
In addition, when the hot humid air meets the cold ducts, there will be condensation dripping on the floor, soaking wood and insulation, and leading to mold problems.
During the winter, the process is reverse. Now is the heated air in the ducts being cooled down while it passes through a freezing cold crawl space.
Ron explains that when you have ducts in the crawl space, insulating the floor above it is therefore pointless. The best treatment is to insulate the walls and the floor, seal and condition the crawl space. so that the ducts are running through an environment where the temperature is similar to that of the living space.