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Ductwork 101: A Complete Guide to Air Ducts

Hand removing an air duct tube.


Air ducts deliver the heated or cooled air from your HVAC system to each room in your home. While the job they do may seem simple, it significantly impacts your comfort, the performance of your HVAC system, and your energy costs.

This guide will help you learn more about the importance of the ductwork in your San Antonio home and why you should keep it properly maintained.

The Impact of Ductwork on Comfort & Efficiency

As your heating or cooling system operates, it draws in air through the return ducts, conditions it, and distributes it through the supply ducts. If the supply or return air ducts are undersized, it may restrict the system, making the HVAC unit work harder. If they’re too large, airflow in one room may be different from others of similar size.

If there are too many bends, kinks, wyes, tees, or unnecessarily long runs, airflow could suffer, dust and pollutants could get trapped in the ducts, and the air could cool down or warm up before it arrives, wasting energy.

Proper Ductwork Design & Installation

A well-designed duct system can ensure balanced airflow to each room while minimizing stress on the HVAC system and improving air quality.

For the best-performing system, the HVAC installers must follow the ACCA Manual D duct sizing procedures, as well as best practices:

  • Avoid unnecessarily long runs
  • Minimize bends, corners, kinks, and other restrictions
  • Secure the ductwork with proper hangers to minimize noise
  • Thoroughly tighten all fasteners
  • Seal joints with appropriate mastic or foil tape
  • Insulate ducts that are outside the conditioned space
  • Ensure there’s balanced airflow between supply and return ducts

Most air ducts are made from sheet metal, fiberglass, or flexible ductwork. Sheet metal or fiberglass tend to be the best choice for long-term performance, with small sections of flexible duct added as the final connection to registers to minimize the transfer of vibrations and noise.

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Signs That Your Ductwork Needs Repair

As ducts age, they may begin leaking, drawing air contaminants in through the return side and losing conditioned air through the supply side. Connections may come loose, or portions of the air duct may collapse or clog, creating air losses or restrictions.

To make up for these issues, the HVAC system will have to work harder, wasting energy, increasing the chances of a breakdown, and shortening its life span. You should schedule ductwork repairs as soon as possible when you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Increased heating or cooling costs
  • Abnormal amounts of household dust
  • Poor air quality or high humidity
  • Reduced airflow or uneven temperatures
  • Poor heating or cooling performance
  • Must or mold odors
  • Signs of pest infestations like droppings
  • Abnormal noises from the ducts
  • Dirty registers or grilles
  • Ducts with holes, tears, kinks, or crushed sections
  • Air leaks or damaged insulation
  • Loose or disconnected joints

If your air ducts are too old or damaged to repair, are made from obsolete or dangerous materials, or are not sized properly to keep your home comfortable and your HVAC system running correctly, it may be time to consider duct replacement instead of repair.

How To Maintain Your Ductwork

To keep your air ducts working smoothly and your HVAC system running as efficiently as possible, it’s important to do some preventative maintenance. This includes:

  • Replacing the HVAC air filter every three months or as needed
  • Professionally servicing your HVAC system at least once a year
  • Having the ductwork inspected annually
  • Removing any obstructions in the ducts like toys, dirt, or debris
  • Making sure no registers or vents are blocked by furniture or drapes
  • Scheduling duct cleaning every three years or whenever necessary

Ductwork Design & Engineering Services in San Antonio, TX

Are you concerned about the performance of the ductwork in your San Antonio home? Our team at Damiani’s Comfort Design can help. We offer professional duct repair, duct replacement, and duct re-engineering throughout the San Antonio area.

We’re proud to serve Texas homeowners, and we feature prompt, professional service, skilled personnel, and superior work backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Call 210-646-9600 today to schedule duct services in San Antonio or surrounding communities.

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