Your Guide to Understanding Return Air Ducts

Your Guide to Understanding Return Air DuctsThe air duct system plays a vital role in your home’s forced-air heating and cooling system. Without it, there’s no way for conditioned air to circulate throughout your home. However, there’s another aspect of a typical ductwork system that some people (including housing contractors) sometimes don’t consider sufficiently, the return air ducts.

A forced-air HVAC system begins with the equipment heating the air, or removing heat energy from the air for cooling. A powerful blower fan pushes air through the furnace or A/C, and then through ducts to rooms all over the house, where it comes out of registers and vents. The same fan that pushes the air draws it back into the equipment via return registers and return air ducts.

How these registers and ducts are placed and designed plays a key role in how well your forced-air delivery system works.

There should be roughly the same amount of air moving through supply ducts as return ducts. Otherwise, air pressure in rooms loses its neutrality, and when that pressure becomes too high as a result of too much supply and not enough return, the air has to go somewhere. Often that’s outside of the house through cracks in the home’s envelope. During the winter, you’ll lose heated air to the outdoors, and your heating system must work all the harder to make your home comfortable.

This will happen when a home is outfitted with too few return registers. At the same time, in rooms where those limited return registers are located, the opposite problem may result, with negative air pressure sucking outside air into the house. In the summer, this makes those rooms more difficult to cool.

Because of these hazards, contractors should strive to build homes with roughly the same amount of return air ducts and registers as in the supply system. When this isn’t possible, air should have a way to move freely between rooms, such as via air transfer ducts in ceilings or pass-through grilles in doors.

For advice on optimizing the air distribution system in your Fayette or Coweta County home, please contact us at Powers Heating & Air.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 770-487-2040.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Serenethos/Shutterstock”

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