What is ductwork?

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When it comes to HVAC systems, many might first think of furnaces or air conditioners as the primary components. However, ductwork plays an equally critical role in ensuring that your home is comfortable, energy-efficient, and has clean air circulating throughout. But what is ductwork, in this article, we delve into the intricate world of ductwork and explore why it is integral to your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.

Ductwork can be compared to the human circulatory system, where the thermostat is the brain, the furnace is the heart, and the ductwork are the arteries and veins that distribute conditioned air throughout the home. The return air ducts act as veins that carry unconditioned air from the home back to the furnace to be treated. Simultaneously, the supply air ducts act as arteries, delivering the conditioned air back into the home to maintain a comfortable living environment.

But why exactly is ductwork so vital? There are several reasons. For one, properly sized and installed ductwork can significantly reduce the strain on your HVAC equipment, thereby prolonging its lifespan and saving you money on energy costs. Secondly, with the right ductwork in place, your air will be cleaner, with fewer dust particles, allergens, and germs floating around. As air circulates more efficiently through your home, your filter is better able to trap these pollutants and prevent them from re-entering your living space. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the right ductwork ensures your overall comfort by reducing hot and cold spots in your home. If your ductwork is not correctly sized and installed, you might experience a “traffic jam” of air, causing your HVAC equipment to work harder and potentially reducing its lifespan, as well as compromising your comfort.

Let’s talk about some examples of ductwork modifications. Think of your HVAC system as a tree, with the furnace as the trunk and the ductwork as the branches that distribute air throughout your home. The plenum is what connects the furnace to the main trunk line, which then branches out to individual rooms in your home. One of the most common modifications we see is the installation of a larger return air drop, which is the main return line connected back to the furnace. This ensures proper circulation throughout the home. Other modifications might include creating a new plenum when a new furnace is installed, replacing old sections of the trunk line, or adding dampers to help control the flow of air in the home.

But who should consider these ductwork modifications? The answer is almost everyone, if you’re updating your HVAC system, chances are your existing ductwork might not be sized correctly for the new equipment, and modifications will be necessary. In fact, we find that nine out of ten HVAC systems we replace require some form of ductwork modification due to improper sizing. If you’ve added a room to your home since the last HVAC update, that new addition might be stealing heating and cooling from other parts of the house, and additional ductwork will be needed. If your home lacks ductwork entirely, perhaps relying on baseboard heating or window units, then a complete network of ductwork will be required when transitioning to a central air system. Lastly, if you’re experiencing difficulty heating or cooling specific areas or rooms in your house, the problem might not be your furnace or air conditioner at all, but rather your ductwork.

In conclusion, if you’re in need of ductwork modifications or are considering purchasing a new furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump in the near future, make sure to discuss your options with your HVAC partner. Ensure that they perform the necessary calculations to ensure that the ductwork and equipment installed in your home are the right size and fit for your living space. In Northern California, Bellows Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical offers trained sales professionals who are knowledgeable in properly sizing equipment and assessing any needed ductwork modifications. We look forward to assisting you and ensuring that your home is comfortable, energy-efficient, and has clean air circulating throughout.

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