What are the Most Common Types of Ductwork in a Home?
Chances are the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment in your home uses a network of air ducts to distribute air and exhaust it outside. The ductwork is a surprisingly important part of that system because it impacts your home’s comfort level as well as the safety and efficiency of your heating and cooling equipment.
There are several different duct system configurations
Flexible duct is fairly common due to its affordability and versatility. This type of duct is comprised of a wire helix encapsulated by a polyester film that is wrapped in a layer of insulation and covered by a metalized polyester jacket. The ducts run through the attic and connect to metal register boxes, t-wyes and reducers. The length and the number of bends can affect this type of ductwork’s performance and the sealed connections are critical for proper airflow.
- Sheet metal ducts are typically made of galvanized steel or aluminum, and come in a variety of thicknesses depending on the application. They are quite durable and the most resistant to mold or biological growth.
- Fiberglass lined ducts are insulated from heat loss or to prevent condensation. This is common in places where the supply air is very cold or where there is high humidity. The lining can also make the system quieter.
- Fiberboard ducts tend to be the least expensive to install. They have a foil outer surface to create an air barrier and prevent water vapor from collecting. The interior is sealed, with the fiberglass particles on the inside. Fiberglass ducts also offer quiet performance and thermal benefits.
The Benefits of a Sealed Duct System
Duct sealing is an easy and affordable way to make sure your ductwork and your entire system are in good shape. Universal duct sealing standards were not incorporated until the late 2000s. Prior to that, ductwork was often installed without regard to leaks and poor connections. Since then, the standards have improved the performance of ductwork in a home, and there is a greater understanding of the importance of ducts being properly sealed.
When there are no leaks or cracks, you experience several important benefits in your home:
The heated or cooled air makes it into your living spaces rather than escaping into the crawl space, attic or basement. This means your home maintains more even temperature throughout.
Higher indoor air quality.
Leaks in air ducts can draw dust and debris, such as dirt and pet dander, into your living areas. These contaminants and irritants can affect your health, particularly if you have allergies or respiratory problems.
Because the air you are paying to heat and cool is making its way into your home, rather than being lost behind the scenes, your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard. This results in lower energy bills and longer life for your equipment.