Air Ducts in HomeWhether you’re constructing your new family home, adding a new room, or remodeling an outdated structure, the AC ductwork is an important, but challenging step. We highly advise that you hire a professional contractor to install ductwork for you.
If you’re considering doing the job yourself, there are some things that you should know before getting started. First and foremost, it’s important to be aware of common missteps that often lead to inefficient AC systems, which means high electricity bills.
The most common mistakes made when installing ductwork include:
- Inadequate planning – the ductwork design in relation to the location of the AC equipment should be strategically mapped out to avoid runs that are too long, which means that an AC unit will have to work harder to push air to the right spaces.
- Sharp bends and crimping – trying to force air ducts through tight spaces in your home’s framework, or around sharp corners, can restrict the airflow through your ducts. Make sure the duct has enough space.
- Poor sealing – improperly installing seals between sections of your ductwork can lead to air leaks. This can have two potential impacts: it can limit the amount of air that is able to pass through, or it can suck in air from the outside and reduce the efficacy of temperature control.
- Poor placement – If an air duct is placed in close proximity to an exterior wall that is poorly insulated, the temperature of the air outside the home can affect the temperature of the duct itself, which then affects the temperature of the space that the duct is filtering air too.
- Improper sizing – there are a lot of factors that should be considered when measuring your materials, including the type of AC system your home is using, the load requirements, and the location of the ducts. Failure to adequately plan and measure your materials is a major misstep in the duct installation process.
Forgetting the returns – an AC ductwork system should come with enough return vents to pull air back into the system to manage temperature comfort.
Materials You Will Need
In order to get started, you’ll need to properly equip yourself with a hammer, a screwdriver. You will also need sheet metal screws, metal hangers, tin snips, and material for duct pipes and fittings. Ductwork
The common material used for air ducts:
- Sheet metal – using galvanized steel and aluminum for ductwork provides strength that other materials lack. The disadvantages, however, are that stronger metals are harder to insulate and they aren’t as flexible. Your ductwork design will have to take this into consideration, or you’ll set yourself up for challenges.
Plastic – some ductwork is also made using plastic, which can be a durable and well-insulated option. The best and strongest plastic to use would be polyurethane.
Fiberglass – a good material for ducts between rafters or along existing ceilings is fiberglass. These compressed boards come with the advantage of already being insulated. Additionally, they are easy to cut and seal.
The Installation Process
If done correctly by a team of professionals, the process to install adequate ductwork throughout a new home is about one to two days. Doing the work yourself can take even longer, especially if you’re doing so with little to no experience. It’s important to schedule the right amount of time to fit into your construction project and to understand what steps to take.
- Step 1: Design and Planning – The preparation is the most important phase. This includes mapping out the design of your system, which should cover the pathway, the location for vents, the returns, and understanding how much it will take to cool each room. You should make sure you have the proper materials and the right amount of materials to properly size your ductwork.
- Step 2: Installing the Plenum – The plenum is the brains of the operation. This is the chamber that collects the air straight from the furnace or AC unit. This is also where your main trunk lines will originate.
- Step 3: Installing the Main Trunk Line – This is the spine of your air conditioning system, or the main lines of air distribution from the plenum, extending the entire length of the structure. Remember to use a cap to halt the air at the end of the line. Installing Ductwork
- Step 4: Installing Branch Runs – The branch runs are the limbs, or branches, of your AC system, allowing air to move from the main trunk line into specific rooms and spaces within your home. These are attached to the main trunk line and extend to the pre-planned vents. It is essential to make sure that you are using the proper joints, which will vary according to which material and shape of duct pipes you are using.
- Step 5: Installing Returns – Based on simple laws of physics, you can’t be pushing air into a room without making sure that enough air is being extracted to make room for it. This is why it is essential to make sure you are installing return vents and pipes to properly circulate air. The number of returns your structure will need and where to install them will largely depend on the structure itself and where air might collect.
There are so many variables and risks that you take when venturing into AC duct installation. If you don’t have the experience or knowledge of AC systems or the support of an equally experienced team behind you, installing your own duct system can end up being more costly than it’s worth.