To answer this question, we must have an understanding of what ductwork is and why it is important.
What is ductwork?
Ductwork is the means or material used to deliver conditioned air that has either been cooled or heated to specific locations.
Why is ductwork important?
Your air conditioning system is like an engine that produces a specific amount of total heating/cooling needed for the home. A duct system is designed to connect to your cooling and heating system to bring the correct amount of air required to each room in order to keep you comfortable. The air conditioning and heating equipment in your home was designed by the manufacturer to operate at a certain amount of resistance with the duct system attached. If the duct system is not designed or installed correctly, there will be negative affects on the equipment.
Think of your car, for example. When you purchased your vehicle, it likely came with a sheet of paper that listed all the features and benefits including the efficiency ratings (ex: 30 mpg highway / 23 mpg city). The ratings they give are based on how the car was designed with a certain amount of resistance. The point is, if you were to increase the resistance on your vehicle by hooking up a camper or trailer, there would be a negative affect on the performance and efficiency. Also, the stress and strain on the vehicle is greater than what it was designed to handle. Simply put, it will age or wear out faster and have breakdowns much sooner than it should due to being overworked.
This is how ductwork should be viewed as well. If your ductwork does not comply with the manufacturer's recommendations for your air conditioning and heating system, you will experience less efficiency, more breakdowns, and shorter life expectancy. Improperly designed ductwork places a strain on your air conditioning and heating system that it was not designed to handle.
When should I replace my ductwork?
- You should replace your ductwork if the ducts are old and falling apart due to age. When the duct system begins to deteriorate due to age, it will cause air leakage, negative air pressurization in the home, dust infiltration to the home, and decline of indoor air quality in the home, among other things.
- You should replace your ductwork if condensation is dripping off the ductwork and onto your attic/ceiling. This is very common in humid climates like Florida. Different types of A/C equipment could cause the existing duct system to begin to condensate because of longer runtimes. The Comfort Advisor or technician must know to look for this when recommending equipment.
- You should replace your ductwork if damage occurred to the duct system by animals or if the ductwork has been crushed.
Who should replace my ductwork?
The HVAC contractor you choose to place your trust in must be trained in duct design and air distribution. Many Comfort Advisors, technicians, or even contractors can fail to understand the importance of the duct system in relation to the cooling and heating equipment. Many times, we have seen other contractors attempt to fix failing equipment by addressing symptoms as opposed to the core issue, resulting in failure after failure with no resolution. After a more thorough and wholistic investigation, we discover the equipment was failing because the duct system was undersized.
When a qualified Comfort Advisor or technician who has been trained in duct design goes into your attic to look at your existing duct system, be sure to listen to their recommendations and understand why he / she is recommending new ducts or duct changes. A thorough examination by a qualified professional will include an attic inspection, design recommendations and explanations, pictures, and design drawings. If they follow these steps, we would contend that they have proven that they are qualified. Most importantly, they likely care a great deal about the comfort of you and your family!