All About Air Ducts

Austin air conditioning service AC Express here to explain some of the technical knowledge behind one of the essential parts of central air conditioning. It takes a lot to cool a home. Central air conditioning only comes together when all the different parts of the system work together perfectly. One of the most important parts is the air ducts. Without those, you might be getting all the cool air in the world but it’s not spreading evenly throughout your home. In most air conditioning designs, without the ducts, central air conditioning isn’t possible.

Learning about air conditioning, how it works and what to do when it doesn’t, will help you get a better air conditioning experience and save money in the future. That’s because the more you know, the less likely it will be that you’ll miss a problem before it develops too far and the more informed your decisions will be when it comes time to make an upgrade or improvement to your home’s air conditioning. Not only that, knowing more about air ducts will help you decide when it’s time to call a professional to get AC Repair in Austin and the Austin area. What follows is a brief rundown of air ducts, what they are, their different types, how they’re added to a house and why might need to be cleaned.

What are Air Ducts?

Air ducts are the physical method through which air is moved through a house by an air conditioning system. A duct system is also referred to as ductwork. The ductwork of an HVAC system is made up of supply ducts, return ducts, and exhaust ducts. As one would guess, the supply ducts blow conditioned air into the rooms of the house, the return ducts pull air from the rooms, and exhaust ducts send air out of the house.

Some ductwork also delivers ventilation air into the air conditioning system. That’s air from outside that is brought in so that the house can stay well ventilated. A well ventilated house won’t get too humid and will be protected from excess pollutants.

Air ducts can be made out of a variety of materials. Some of those include:

  • Galvanized Steel: This is the material that is most commonly used in the construction of air ducts.
  • Aluminum: The benefits of aluminum as a material are that it is very lightweight and easy to install. It is also very easy to cut unique shapes and fabricate new parts quickly.
  • Polyurethane and phenolic insulation panels: With metal ducts, the ducts have to be outfitted with plastic installation panels. But sometimes, rigid plastic panels can be used solely, in place of the usual metal panels. Polyurethane and phenolic panels have the benefit of being already insulated, though aluminum is usually added to give structure.
  • Flexible Ducts: Flexible ducts are another common type of ductwork. They are made in the shape of tubes by wrapping flexible plastic around metal coils. Glass wool is usually the material used for insulation in flexible ductwork.

Flex Ducts versus Rigid Ducts

There is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of both flexible ducts and rigid ducts. The main advantage that rigid ducts have over flexible ducts is that they generally have better air flow. In your conventional rectangular metal air ducts, air flows without restriction along the smooth surface in a circular motion. The air forms little ball bearing pockets in the corners of the ducts, meaning there is perfect, undisrupted flow of air through the ducts. The problem with flexible ducts is the metal coils. The coils that give the tube-shaped ducts their structure and shape will hinder air as is passes through the ducts. The ripples in flexible ductwork cause air to bounce around more and airflow is disrupted.

This effect can be significant. Airflow is an important part of air conditioning, and getting the best airflow you can allows you to get the most energy efficient use out of your air conditioning system. The lost energy efficiency caused by restricted airflow can add up over time in money spent on energy bills.

So why use flexible ductwork at all? Well, flexible ducts are handy when the space is limited. In tricky, small areas where rigid ductwork just can’t realistically be applied, flexible ductwork can take its place. Flexible ductwork is also very cheap and easy to install, compared to solid ductwork. For these reasons, flexible ductwork is often used in conjuncture with rigid ductwork, wherever it’s needed due to its flexibility.

Adding Ductwork to a House

Whether you’re buying a new home, or if you have an old home that doesn’t have central air conditioning, at some point in your life you may need to install air ducts into your house. How easy this will be will vary based on a number of factors. In reality, it’s something that can only be known on a case-by-case basis. Experts estimate that installing ductwork into a home without it can cost anywhere from $7000 to $10000 on average, but really it depends on the size and the design of the home.

As far as the general design of air ducts when they’re installed in homes without them, there are two types, ducts that feed the second floor and ducts that feed the first. Generally, second floor ducts will run along the attic floor and then shoot down and connect to the ceiling vents. First floor ducts will generally run through second floor closets and connect to the first floor ceiling vents.

Cleaning Your Air Ducts

As with anything, eventually, ducts will need to be cleaned. Ducts move a lot of air and air carries contaminants. Because of the smooth and efficient design of air ducts, the buildup of contaminants such as dust and mold is limited. Air ducts by design don’t get dirty quickly. That is why the department of energy has an official statement about the cleaning of air ducts that reads “If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary.”

So air duct cleaning isn’t something you should worry too much about. But, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the following symptoms. Any of them could be a sign that it’s time to get your air ducts checked out.

  • Visible dust remaining after cleaning
  • Having to dust and clean the surfaces in your home more often
  • Little or no air coming from open vents
  • Sinus problems in house inhabitants after sleeping
  • A musty or stale odor after turning on the air conditioner
  • House inhabitants getting allergy problems more often than usual

If your ducts or any part of your system requires air conditioning repair in Austin or around, from Hutto and Manor to Georgetown and Round Rock, call AC Express. Our certified and experienced technicians will give you fully satisfactory service and you’ll have perfect air conditioning for the smallest cost possible. For superb Austin air conditioning repair, call AC Express today! (512) 866-5520