Whether you’re building a new home or retrofitting an older one, it pays to take the time to design your duct system right. A poorly designed duct system nearly guarantees you’ll reap less-than-desirable effects including:
- Higher energy costs
- Uneven home temperatures
- Lower air conditioner and furnace efficiency
- A higher carbon footprint
Your HVAC equipment can only operate as well as the ductwork that delivers the conditioned air, and your home comfort depends on the same. Spending a bit of time and money upfront when designing your duct system will pay off for years to come in terms of optimal comfort and low lifetime costs. Here are a few factors to consider when designing ducts:
- Base the design on industry standards, using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA) Manual J protocol for duct design.
- Start the design process early. The layout of the ducts depends greatly on the home’s construction design such as dropped ceilings, types of insulation used, and wall and floor layout. Collaboration between the building and the ductwork contractor is a must in order to achieve optimal results for both designs.
- Smaller is better — at least in terms of duct run length. Longer runs lead to temperature loss and discomfort. As much as possible, ducts should run as short as possible from the air handler to the supply grilles.
- Stay within the conditioned spaces of the home. Ducts that run outside of these areas are subject to conduction losses and infiltration of dirty air if the ducts ever leak. If ducts must be located outside of the home’s conditioned areas, they should be well sealed and insulated.
- Consider the cost benefits of using a multiple return-air system. It costs more upfront to install, but since every room will then have a return grille, you’ll benefit from optimal airflow, a balanced pressure throughout the home, and privacy. You won’t have to depend on open interior doors to ensure airflow.
If you’re in the enviable position of designing your duct system, contact Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning for expert advice today. We’re happy to help our neighbors in the greater Fresno area with ductwork design, air conditioner installations, furnace repairs and more.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about duct system design and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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