If your home has a forced-air heating and cooling system, a key part of the process is air distribution, specifically the blower motor and fan, air ducts, and registers and vents. While you’re likely aware of the supply ducts and registers, delivering comfortable, conditioned air throughout your home, the return air ducts also play a crucial role in efficiently and effectively heating and cooling your house.
A forced-air HVAC system (by far the most common in American homes) starts with the heating or cooling equipment (the furnace, A/C, heat pump, etc.). A powerful fan draws household air into the equipment. The air then gets filtered and heated or cooled before being delivered via supply ducts to all the rooms in the house. As this is happening, the same fan that pushes supply air through ducts is also drawing air back to the equipment via return air ducts.
A key factor in how efficiently and effectively conditioned air circulates in your room is the placement and design of return air ducts, registers and vents.
One aspect of this is balanced airflow. Approximately the same amount of air that moves through supply ducts and registers should be drawn back through return ducts to the HVAC equipment. Unless this is happening, positive air pressure will result in rooms, forcing conditioned air outside through gaps and cracks in the home’s envelope.
This wastes energy and forces your equipment to work harder, making it more difficult to heat and cool rooms. Good home construction stresses adequate vents and registers to draw in return air, ideally with return registers in each room that has a supply vent. If that’s not practical, easy airflow between rooms is necessary, either with jumper ducts in ceilings, pass-through grilles or other strategies.
In addition to design and placement of ducts, they should be sealed and maintained. Insulate ducts where they run through unconditioned areas such as crawl spaces, basements or wall voids.
For more help understanding how the ductwork plays a role in heating and cooling your Eastern North Carolina home, please contact us at Jackson & Sons Heating & Air Conditioning.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Eastern North Carolina (including Wayne, Johnston, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt and Duplin Counties) about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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