A home doesn’t have as extensive a network of air ducts as a commercial building. But homeowners often underestimate the importance of duct design and the type of ductwork installed. A duct’s size, shape, material, and flexibility should be carefully considered. When installing or replacing your HVAC system, the types of central air ductwork you may use include:
Sheet Metal Ducts
Rigid sheet metal is the most common type of ductwork. Usually aluminum or galvanized steel, sheet metal ducts have thick, solid walls. They’re durable and can withstand the test of time, although not quite suited for crawling through (as action heroes in movies often do).
Nonetheless, sheet metal is prone to dust buildup. Periodic cleaning is recommended to remove dust and other particles so they don’t circulate in the air. The non-porous design helps sheet metal resist mold growth.
The fiberglass strands used for fiberboard ducts are compressed and bonded with a type of resin. A foil laminate sheet protects the material from moisture. Fiberboard ducts are well-insulated but have rough interior surfaces that can affect airflow.
Mold, mildew, and bacteria can fester in fiberboard ducts. Therefore, these ducts are not recommended for ventilation purposes. But despite some drawbacks, fiberboard ducts are inexpensive compared to sheet metal and can be fabricated to fit tough spaces.
A fiberglass-lined duct is made of sheet metal. Its internal lining dampens sound from the AC system and helps reduce heat loss. Commercial facilities are more likely to have fiberglass-lined central air ductwork than homes.
The porous nature of fiberglass makes it prone to mold and bacterial growth. Fiberglass can also break down over time and release small particles into the air. These can pose respiratory and other health issues. Cleaning fiberglass-lined ducts are challenging because it can damage the lining and cause fibers to break loose.
A semi-rigid duct is flexible but retains its shape without adding elbows, which eases installation and eliminates air leakage. Some semi-rigid ducts can be switched between round and oval ducting without affecting HVAC system pressure or overall performance. Anti-bacterial and anti-static linings can make semi-rigid ducts easier to maintain.
Flexible ducts have wire coils covered in bendable plastic, so they are easy to install in tight spaces. A layer of glass wool, polyethylene, or metalized PET provides thermal insulation. The ductwork must be adequately secured and supported to prevent sagging or snaking. Installers must also be careful to minimize bends and turns that can affect performance. Nonetheless, installation is often simpler and less costly than with rigid ducts.
Why Is Choosing the Right Central Air Ductwork So Important?
Ducts help properly distribute air so each room is equal in temperature. The efficiency of your ductwork has a direct correlation with the efficiency of your HVAC system. Improperly selected, installed, or maintained ductwork can increase energy costs and reduce heating/cooling performance. Some materials and types of ductwork are more suited for certain areas or climates. Every type has its pros and cons. Consult an HVAC professional to determine your home’s best type of ductwork.
Contact Sky for More Information
Sky Heating & Air Conditioning has provided HVAC repair, replacement, and maintenance in the Portland area since 1979. We also specialize in duct sealing and ductwork services. Our licensed technicians ensure your ductwork is efficient and lasts as long as possible. A comprehensive maintenance plan helps reduce repair needs, boost efficiency, prevent breakdowns, and improve air quality. To schedule central air ductwork and other HVAC services, call 888-961-4282 today.