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The Reliable

Don’t forget the ducts

By Dan Jape – Reliable Heating & Air One of the most important aspects of your home’s heating and cooling system is the duct work. Proper duct work can make a huge difference in the comfort and efficiency of your home. I visit four or five customer’s homes each day and in the vast majority of them, I find duct work issues that need to be corrected to make sure the new heating and cooling system we install will deliver what is promised in terms of comfort and efficiency. I see a number of customers who simply are talked into replacing the equipment in their home without analyzing the distribution system and they end up with the same poor comfort level they had before they purchased a new system. With this in mind, here are a few tips to help ensure your system works as well as it should for your home.

  • With intake ducts, it’s all about balance.

    One of the most frequent problems we find is lack of the proper amount of return or intake duct work. A proper operating system has to have the correct amount of return ducts to match the output of the system. Without the correct amount of intakes, many problems will arise such as lack of cooling capacity, overheating furnace heat exchangers, freezing cooling coils and reduced life of the entire system.

    Many homes suffer this issue, and it must be corrected when upgrading your HVAC system.

  • Fiberglass is not your friend.

    Many homes have duct work built out of fiberglass or duct board. This a foil covered, glue impregnated sheet of fiberglass that is used as plenums or distribution boxes on the top and the sides of furnaces and is a very poor choice for ducting material. It is very porous and rough inside and collects dirt and debris and after a few years of service is always filthy dirty. Mold grows on the inside of this material and it is very hard to keep the corners and seams sealed up to keep air from leaking out in attics or basements.

    Metal ducts and plenums need to be installed to replace this inferior product when a new system is installed in your home to assure you of proper airflow, comfort, and efficiency.

  • Splitter boxes make the problem even worse.

    In some extreme cases, I find actual splitter boxes or wyes made of this duct board to try and save money on new home construction. You can find these by looking for boxes made into triangle shapes with many ducts attached to them. These impede airflow, overwork the furnace blower, and provide inferior comfort to the entire home.

    They have to be replaced to make sure you are getting the full comfort and efficiency a new HVAC system can provide you.

  • Size matters.

    The last and one of the most important aspects of your ducts is making sure they are sized properly to deliver the correct amount of airflow to each room in your home. Almost every homeowner I visit complains about the comfort in their bonus room or the room over their garage in a two story home. This discomfort is caused by lack of airflow to overcome the heat loss or heat gain in this special room, which is over unconditioned space and needs more air flow to make this room comfortable.I will never understand why builders ignore this room and provide a space that in many cases cannot be used in peak weather conditions.

    This problem is easily corrected when replacing your comfort system and should not be overlooked and if it is, the problem will still be there after the new system is installed.

One should never purchase a new HVAC system without having a competent contractor inspect the duct system to assure you that your new heating and cooling system will actually deliver the promise of comfort and efficiency that you should demand from this purchase.