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In phase 1 we discussed the importance of design for a HVAC system. Following the design process comes phase 2, ductwork fabrication.
Once you have engineered the proper system it is important to distribute the right amount of air through the system you designed. The art of fabricating a high performance ductwork system involves using heavy gauge sheet metal ductwork, proper sealing and skilled crafts people who understand how a proper system works. There are established best practices to follow when installing sheet metal ductwork, however since codes focus on minimum required standards, most building codes do not require you to follow all of these best practices.
This is why it is so important to find a company that has pride and dedication in their work and understands following best practices is a necessary step to bring the best value to their customers’ homes. The problem with a lot of ductwork defects is that it is nothing the homeowner notices right away, but it only becomes apparent in the future where the house is not as comfortable as it could be. At that point it takes it takes more work and money to repair the system and make it right than having it done correctly when installed. With a poorly fabricated duct system not only will your home feel uncomfortable, but your energy bills inevitably increase from the excess air being lost due to poor fabrication.
Ductwork in a conventional home is typically designed as a long single duct running the length of the house and smaller flexible ducts coming off that main line. SmartHouse avoids flexible ductwork whenever possible because of various reasons; it tends to get eaten easily by rodents, it can decompose over time, and if it is not installed perfectly a significant amount of air can be lost. Instead of flex duct, SmartHouse uses rigid metal ductwork whenever possible that is correctly sized to move the required amount of air where it is needed. All ductwork is sealed at the joints with a rubber compound called mastic to prevent air leakage. Do you have a room on the opposite side of your home that doesn’t seem to get enough air flow? Air leakage through the ducts could be part of the reason. Sealing the ductwork helps to ensure the air will get where it needs to go, and you do not experience that loss of air flow in certain areas of your home.
Ductwork installation can also be quite complicated if it is installed in the attic. In these circumstances, care must be taken to make sure the ductwork is installed correctly, such as set up off the joists (not touching), and being correctly insulated. If the ductwork is touching the joists then the location lends itself to condensation issues that plague the home over time. Another important step is to make sure to insulate the ductwork in attics. Most of the time it is not necessary inside the house but for those that have ductwork inside their attic, it is extremely important to have that ductwork insulated and sealed properly. If it is not insulated and sealed, the result will be air blowing inside the attic while taking away air that should be distributed inside the house. This condition can also lend to potential moisture issues when the cold ductwork is running through a hot attic environment. The best way to insulate in the attic is to use closed cell spray foam over the entire system.
In addition to the loss of air and condensation you could face a cooling capacity problem with un-insulated ductwork in the attic. In the summer attics can become extremely hot, some reaching over 150 degrees. While your AC is pumping, your ductwork is transporting air at about 50 degrees. As this cool air is moving through the ductwork inside the attic, it is picking up the heat inside the attic and now that air is warmer and not providing the ideal cooling effect inside your home.
As you can see, even the highest technology equipment will not be able to provide peak comfort without the proper ductwork in place. Taking the time upfront to make sure you are getting a thoughtfully designed, fabricated and installed duct system based on industry Best Practices will save you time and money, and ensure year round comfort from your heating and cooling system.
If you’re looking for more info on ductwork fabrication in St. Louis, please call SmartHouse today!