Learning About the Various Types of Ducts

Learning About the Various Types of DuctsHeat produced by your furnace or coolness from your A/C gets nowhere unless it’s carried by one of the several types of ducts installed in the typical home. A residential HVAC system incorporates two distinct duct networks: supply and return. As the name implies, supply ducts convey conditioned air into rooms, while returns take it out and carry it back to the furnace or air conditioner. Air is drawn through the system by the action of the blower. Depending on the location in the house and the design of the ductwork, types of ducts and duct materials may vary widely.

  • The central trunk duct that carries a high volume of supply air is typically of rectangular shape and fabricated from sheet metal. Sheet metal is very smooth and air moves through the ductwork with minimal resistance, allowing optimum airflow. Also, metal is impervious to invasive mold growth. Return ductwork is usually also rectangular sheet metal.
  • Branch supply ducts split off from the main central trunk to convey conditioned air to individual rooms. These are smaller ducts and typically round. In most cases, they are also made of sheet metal. Branch ducts usually incorporate small doors called dampers to adjust airflow volume to the individual room.
  • Where branch ductwork must be routed through many twists and turns, flexible duct is often utilized. Made of an inner layer of plastic with a round wire frame, flex duct can be bent to curve around obstructions and simplify installation. However, its corrugated surface adds to internal air friction. In addition, flexible duct is easily crushed, kinked or may sag.
  • Fiberglass duct board is easily cut and utilized to fabricate square or rectangular ducts. Its chief advantage is that the fiberboard material has insulation value that reduces thermal gain or loss from the ductwork, particularly when it is routed through unconditioned areas like the attic. It also typically incorporates a foil vapor barrier to resist moisture infiltration.

Paitson Bros., the established Wabash Valley source for HVAC sales and service since 1922, installs, maintains and repairs all types of ducts in residential and commercial structures.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Mathias Rosenthal/Shutterstock”

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