Different Types of Ductwork
If a homeowner takes an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude toward repairs, there’s one part of the HVAC system that will suffer more than the rest: the ductwork. Unless the ceiling is exposed, the air ducts are invisible in most homes, tucked neatly behind the walls. However unseen, air ducts play a crucial role in HVAC systems and can affect everything from indoor air quality to electric bills.There are certain times when ductwork can’t be ignored, namely when it needs to be replaced or repaired. If you’re in the process of choosing new ductwork for your home but know absolutely nothing about it, don’t worry. Dial One Johnson Plumbing, Cooling & Heating can go over your options. Keep reading to learn about ductwork, its various forms and how to know when your home has a ductwork issue. Need the best AC service Duncanville, TX, can provide? Look no further than Dial One Johnson. Our HVAC experts can perform any maintenance, repair or replacement you need. Contact us online to schedule service.
What Is Ductwork?Air ducts are basically the hallways conditioned air moves through before reaching the vents. Although we can’t see it, ductwork is responsible for transporting heated or cooled air from the HVAC system to various rooms throughout the house. There are a few different types of air ducts that will work in commercial and residential buildings, and each type has distinct advantages and disadvantages. The type of ductwork that’s best for your home will depend on your HVAC system, and you may need a professional HVAC technician to help you determine the best fit. There are two primary types of ductwork: flexible and rigid ductwork.
Flexible DuctworkHave you ever been in a building with an exposed ceiling and seen what looked like puffy, metallic tubing near the ceiling? That’s flexible ductwork. Flexible ductwork is made of steel wire helixes covered in a durable, flexible plastic. As far as air ducts go, flexible ductwork is generally easy to install and more affordable than most types of rigid ductwork. It’s also resistant to mold and rust and easy to clean. Flexible ductwork is ideal for tight or awkward spaces where rigid ductwork would be a nightmare to install. It can bend around fixed structures and work in even the trickiest spaces. However, its bends and kinks can reduce airflow, which can be hard on an HVAC system. Additionally, flexible ductwork is much easier to puncture and tear than rigid ductwork.
Rigid DuctworkRigid ductwork encompasses a few distinct subcategories and can be made from many materials. Rigid ductwork can be rigid or cylindrical. Unlike the cylindrical air ducts found in flexible ductwork, these do not bend and appear smooth, rather than puffy. Rigid ductwork doesn’t bend, so there’s no risk of kinks or bends obstructing airflow. Unlike flexible air ducts, rigid ductwork can’t be punctured or torn. However, it also can’t be easily installed in tricky spaces. There are three main types of rigid ductwork: sheet metal ducts, fiberglass-lined ducts and fiberboard ducts. Each type comes with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Sheet Metal DuctsSheet metal ducts are typically made from galvanized steel or aluminum. Aluminum air ducts are lightweight, which makes them easy to install. Like flexible ductwork, sheet metal ducts are mold-resistant, which means better air quality. Although sheet metal ducts are durable, they are more likely to experience leaks where two sections are joined than other types of air ducts.
Pros of Sheet Metal Ducts
- Easy to install
- Not easily crushed, torn or punctured
- Easy to clean by yourself
Cons of Sheet Metal Ducts
- Prone to leaks at section joints
- Louder than insulated air ducts
- Can’t always keep air at the desired temperature
Fiberglass-Lined DuctsFiberglass-lined ducts are essentially sheet metal ducts with fiberglass lining on either the inside or outside. The lining works to keep the air at the correct temperature and prevent condensation. It also helps muffle the sounds of the HVAC system, making it ideal for offices and commercial buildings. The downside to the fiberglass insulation is that it can deteriorate over time and worsen indoor air quality.
Pros of Fiberglass-Lined Ducts
- Able to keep air at the correct temperature
- Prevents condensation
- Quieter than uninsulated air ducts
Cons of Fiberglass-Lined Ducts
- Releases fiberglass particles over time
- Requires professional cleaning services
- Prone to mold, mildew and bacteria growth
Fiberboard DuctsFiberboard ducts are made from compressed fiberglass fibers that have been sealed to prevent fiberglass particles from escaping. The outside of fiberboard ducts are covered with foil, which prevents air and moisture from touching the fiberboard. Of all the types of air ducts, fiberboard ducts are the least expensive to install. However, they are prone to mildew, and because they are rough on the inside, they can cause friction in airflow.
Pros of Fiberboard Ducts
- Naturally insulated
- Least expensive ductwork
- Doesn’t release fiberglass particles
Cons of Fiberboard Ducts
- Prone to mold and mildew growth
- May cause friction in airflow
- Reduced HVAC efficiency
Signs of Ductwork IssuesAll types of ductwork need maintenance from time to time. If you never schedule ductwork maintenance, you could have an air leak that’s driving up your utility bills and never know it. Additionally, if you never clean your ductwork, you’re opening yourself up to dangerous mold exposure and poor air quality caused by excessive dust or bacteria. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know when you need ductwork maintenance. Afterall, you can’t even see it. Look out for these common signs of ductwork issues:
- Unusual noises, like whistles and hums (not the regular roar of starting up)
- Unbalanced air temperature, cool and warm air coming from the vents
- Reduced airflow, in some vents or in all vents
- Cold or warm spots that form on floors and walls