A Guide to HVAC Duct Work, Supplies and Design

HVAC ducts have changed extensively over the years, as greater research and technology has been utilized to make HVAC ducts more efficient, more affordable, and better insulated. While the quality of ducting in a home can influence the home’s resale value, many homeowners know very little about these hidden parts of their HVAC system.

Types of HVAC Ducts

In older homes, most HVAC ducts were constructed of galvanized steel. These sheet metal ducts are extremely durable, but are not normally found in newer homes because they often lack proper insulation. This allows the heat and cooling to escape from the ducts and reduces efficiency of the system. The added cost of insulating the ducts resulted in many older homes lacking insulated duct work, which reduces energy efficiency. Flexible insulated ducts have been used even in older homes in areas such as the attic or crawl space.

Most modern homes use a combination of the sheet metal and the flexible insulated ducts. The flexible insulated ducts are much cheaper and less durable than sheet metal. More expensive high-end custom homes often have insulated sheet metal ducts, but for modern tract homes or affordable housing, most of the ductwork is not sheet metal. Modern homes can be heated and cooled comfortably, but the HVAC system in many homes is designed to be cost-effective and not necessarily energy efficient.

Basic Steps to Install HVAC Ducts

Installation of rigid ducts can be extremely difficult. While the ducts may install easily where they can be installed in a straight line, any turns in the ductwork will require the use of elbow joints. The ducts themselves are usually installed in a ceiling or a basement and installed with metal strips that wrap around the ducts and are screwed directly into the joists in the ceiling or the floors. These types of ducts can be very challenging to install. In addition to routing the ductwork, a duct professional will need to cut the ducts to size, install elbow joints when a turn is required, and cut a slot in the floor or ceiling joists in order to allow space for the ductwork to be installed, so hiring a professional HVAC Service Statesboro GA is highly recommended.

Flexible ducts are somewhat easier to install, as they can bend around corners without the use of an elbow joint. These ducts, however, can sometimes result in the most damage. Because installation seems to be simple, some homeowners will undertake this job without the appropriate knowledge. If the ducts are not routed in a specific way, they can sometimes bend in a way that will cut off airflow. In most cases, this will only make the HVAC system less efficient, but in severe cases, this can so thoroughly block airflow that it can cause problems in the main HVAC unit.

Finding HVAC Duct Supplies

HVAC duct supplies can be purchased from a variety of sources. Most homeowners seeking flexible duct can find their supplies and materials at their local home improvement store. Stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menard’s often offer HVAC installation kits that include flexible duct, collars, grilles, and elbow joints. These stores also sell some parts individually for homeowners who need specific elements in order to complete their projects.

HVAC Duct Design Basics

There are several things to remember when examining residential ductwork designs. First, that all HVAC systems require a certain amount of airflow. High efficiency systems or systems that will be exceptionally well filtered will often require larger ducts to ensure the same volume of airflow. Without proper airflow through the supply and return ducts, the equipment will not function properly. All homes will have unique requirements and construction, and these construction elements can pose obstacles when designing the ductwork system. This is a tremendous problem in older homes.

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