The HVAC system is comprised of several different components. Airflow within the home is courtesy of your ductwork. Issues with this part of the unit restricts energy efficiency and diminishes air quality. How the duct is installed and maintained plays a critical role in the longevity of your HVAC system and the comfort of your home. Most homeowners fixate on the unit itself. However, failing to take care of the duct could mean you spend hundreds of dollars down the line in repairs.

What Does the Air Duct Do?

Ductwork is a network of tubing connected to the HVAC that distributes air throughout the home. It plays a role in climate control and maintaining the equilibrium of the heating and cooling. As the air from the HVAC is heated or cooled, it’s pushed through the ductwork to be distributed throughout the house. It’s important to note that the duct is not anything to do with the refrigerant, water, or gas. It’s only relationship is with the airflow. The network needs to weave its way throughout the house bending and straightening where possible. Construction revolves around flexible materials like plastic, aluminum, or fiberglass. Duct materials include:

Galvanized Steel

Zinc in galvanized steel prohibits rust from forming making it one of the most common materials used in a duct.


Much lighter than galvanized steel it can be very easy to install. Because of its lightweight properties, it can be manufactured to conform to particular shapes.

Fiberglass Duct Board

Used mostly for their thermal properties, fiberglass duct board helps with sound absorption, so the system isn’t as noisy.

Flexible Ducting

Flexible ducting is used to attach the rigid galvanized steel ductwork to the outlet. It’s sometimes made with flexible plastic over a metallic wire coil.

The Importance of Proper Air Duct Installation

Improper installation will lead to poor performance. The ductwork controls the temperature. Issues with installation and you have problems with regulating the temperature on the thermostat. The house is a vast space. Creating one tube to represent the entire home is unnecessary and expensive. Ductwork is installed in pieces and joined together at seams and sealed with aluminum tape. These seams are places of vulnerability. If the installation is mishandled, the seams can widen or split causing air leaks. The HVAC unit can start working harder to compensate. Overworking the unit could lead to a breakdown which is more costly than having a professional HVAC contractor install ductwork.

Sizing of the duct is important. It should match the size of the unit. A break in the seam and you are already dealing with the unit working harder to pump air. The same can be said for tubing that doesn’t match the system. Operationally, there shouldn’t be an interruption. Choose the appropriate sizing, and you can save on energy efficiency. A professional measures your equipment in relation to the house if the duct needs to be installed. They are also capable of providing a balancing service that finetunes the tubing to ensure longevity, comfort, and performance.

Keeping Your Air Duct Clean

Maintaining healthy air quality is important. Pollutants can work their way inside your system and cause unnecessary damage or allergic reactions. We’re talking about pet dander, pollen, dust and other irritants making their way into the system. It’s important to keep it clean to keep your home healthy. You know it’s time to clean the system when:

You notice mold inside or outside the air duct. Mold in large quantities is dangerous. An odor accompanies mold. If you begin to smell dirty socks, you’ll want to have it inspected.
You see anything that could resemble animal infestation. Body parts, nests, or droppings are indicative of a larger problem.

  • There is significant amounts of dust or debris clogging the system.
  • The vents are covered in dust.
  • When you see dust being transmitted into the home.
  • Water has damaged the ducts from a leaking roof.
  • What to Expect from Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is maintenance and preventative treatment. The ductwork interacts with all components of the HVAC system which means if you have it cleaned or checked the other areas need to be checked as well. Components include:

  • Heat exchanger
  • Drain pan
  • Fan motor
  • System housing
  • Condenser
  • Evaporator Coils

Cleaning your duct system is extensive and can take some time, but it is well worth the reward.

DIY Air Duct Cleaning

There are different ways you can prevent dirt and other pollutants from clogging the system. The first line of defense is keeping your filters clean. We’ve talked about how to choose the right filter before. A clean one ensures the system is functioning properly and that it’s capturing dust, dander, and other particles. Check the filters once a month. Regular vacuuming will remove particles that could float up and get trapped in your HVAC. At least once a week you should vacuum.

Professional maintenance checks should be scheduled before the beginning of the summer and winter when you will use the unit more frequently. Once a year, schedule a ductwork inspection from an HVAC contractor. Busy Bee serves the Middle Tennessee area and can help you keep your system working efficiently.

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