I’ve become aware, sometimes painfully aware, that not all cups of coffee are created equal. Though sometimes I can look at the coffee and see something is off, it usually isn’t until it hits my taste buds that I realize all is not right with my cup of joe. And the cheaper the coffee, the more often I’m disappointed with the quality. The same can be said for your home’s duct system.
You’re only out a few bucks when you get a bad cup of coffee. But if your duct system is poorly designed, it can cost you thousands and make you unhappy with the way your home feels.
According to Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), homeowners are only comfortable when a duct system is designed to carry the right amount of air, at the right speed, into the right room. Ducts that are sized incorrectly don’t bring the right amount of air into the room and could cause these seven problems:
- The room to be too warm or too cool. (It’s not the fault of your insulation or windows!)
- The air to be too drafty and disturb people while they sleep, eat, read, etc. (True story.)
- The air to be too noisy and drown out conversations or TV programs. (What did you say?)
- The air to be too slow. The conditioned air will not circulate or mix well in the room. (Hot or cold spots anyone?)
- The fan to work harder, possibly fail sooner and use more energy to move air. ($$$)
- The furnace or air conditioner safety devices to stop equipment operation. (Honey, the A/C isn’t working!)
- Pressure differentials that could increase energy costs by pushing out air-conditioned air or drawing in unwanted air. (Think outdoor or attic air being forced inside your home – talk about a dusty home!)
I’m pretty sure most of us have experienced one or two of these issues but never imagined that they could be related to ductwork, but I see these problems all the time. Why? Because many times a company gets paid to replace the old with the new. They just take out the old system that was designed for older air-conditioner technology or a technician who doesn’t really understand heat load and delivery but knows how to make duct connections just makes some amount of air travel from point A to point B. See, anyone can take out old ductwork and put more back in, but remember, the end result should make homeowners comfortable and carry the right amount of air, at the right speed, into the right room.
A duct system must be properly designed for each home with the correct size, lengths and types of ducts that must be routed and supported properly, taking into consideration the home’s insulation R-values, window sizes, room volume and usage, number of occupants and more! It’s complicated and technical enough that the state of Florida requires contractors to have a license to install ductwork. The state also requires licensed contractors to pull a permit and have the ductwork inspected by the local municipality’s building division upon completion. There’s a lot that goes into doing it right.
Look, it’s definitely cheaper not to tell customers this information and just wish them luck with a new air conditioner, sell them a duct cleaning (and that’s another story!) or leave a bad system as-is, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Just take some time to find the right contractor and know that it may cost a little more to do it right. A great duct system leaves you just as satisfied as a good cup of joe.