Optimal Ductwork Design Made Easier with Pre-Fabrication
In a new construction or remodeling project, a major investment in heating and cooling equipment should be accompanied by equal attention to the ductwork that distributes conditioned air from your furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, or other system. Proper ductwork design is critical to getting the best possible performance from your HVAC system.
An improperly designed and implemented duct network can account for many problems, including:
- Substantial losses of heated and cooled air: As much as 40 percent in some cases. This not only wastes large amounts of energy, but also causes your home comfort equipment to work harder and wear out earlier and makes your monthly utility bills unnecessarily high.
- Inefficient equipment operation: Duct systems with numerous bends, elbows and joints will not allow your HVAC equipment to work at its most efficient, which increases operating costs.
- Inconsistent heating and cooling: With leaks occurring in some sections of the ductwork or design factors that restrict airflow, rooms and entire areas of your living environment may receive the amount of heating or cooling you prefer, leading to spaces that are too hot or too cold for the season.
- Lowered indoor air quality: Leaky or badly designed ducts can draw particulates, dust, mold spores, humidity and other contaminants back into your home. There’s also a chance that these types of ducts will experience backdrafting, which pulls dangerous exhaust gases such as carbon monoxide back into the ductwork and out into your home.
Ductwork design can be aided significantly by using pre-fabrication services in the design and construction process. Pre-fabrication of ductwork involves the layout, design and construction of large sections of ductwork in a factory or specialized facility. Portions of the ductwork system can be assembled off-site and thoroughly tested for leaks or other problems before being installed in your construction project. This allows construction experts the chance to build ductwork properly without being hindered or stressed by the physical restrictions of the building site. With the additional leeway, technicians can ensure pieces of ductwork are correctly and tightly fitted together, connections are properly sealed and any mechanical fastening processes are thoroughly applied. In addition, workers on site have fewer connections to make to finish a completed system.
Pre-fabrication of ductwork requires greater attention to planning to make sure sections made off-site can be easily maneuvered, fitted and sealed. However, the improvements to ductwork performance and the savings offered by pre-fabrication makes it an extremely beneficial option.
Some other elements of proper ductwork design to keep in mind are:
- Proper sizing: The ductwork pipe itself must be big enough to carry the amount of conditioned air you need but not so small that it restricts airflow.
- Configuration: Several ductwork configurations are available, but it’s best to stick with a configuration that has been tested and confirmed as effective. The two most common ductwork configurations are radial and trunk and branch systems. Your local trusted HVAC source can help you determine which configuration is best for your home.
- Placement: Avoid placing ductwork in areas of your home that are not already insulated and conditioned, such as crawl spaces, unfinished attics or basements or garages. Even if insulated, ductwork in areas such as this will lose heating and cooling energy and drive up your home comfort bills.
- Insulation: Ductwork should be insulated with rigid fiberboard insulation or wrapped with standard blanked insulation. The metal of ductwork is relatively thick, and the material can lose heating and cooling energy through the metal itself.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information about the importance of optimal ductwork design and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
Image Credit: BSFinHull