4 Kinds of Ductwork for Your Home and Their Pros and Cons

Ductwork in Charlotte, NC

Ductwork is a system of ducts made of varied materials that carry air through your home. This air is conditioned for heating, cooling, and ventilation. Having air ducts installed properly is crucial to keeping your home comfortable and healthy. There are several distinct kinds of ductwork that you can have installed. Four primary kinds stand out in the industry, and each category has both benefits and drawbacks. You should know what they are to make the best choice for your home.

1. Sheet Metal

The first kind of ductwork that you should know about is sheet metal. This kind of ductwork is usually made out of galvanized aluminum or steel. It’s also the most common material for ductwork in many homes. Sheet metal ductwork is available in many different shapes, and they can be rectangles, rounded, or even spiral ovals.

Durability is the primary benefit of sheet metal ductwork. If someone accidentally steps on sheet metal ductwork, it’s not as likely as other options to crush. These ducts are sometimes double-walled for extra strength. The non-porous nature of the materials involved helps sheet metal ductwork resist biological growth, such as mold. Installation is also usually pretty straightforward.

The same thickness that makes sheet metal ductwork robust can also make it heavy. That can add to material costs. Labor costs might also go up because there’s more work involved. Sheet metal ductwork might also be prone to rusting although galvanized steel with a zinc coating can somewhat deter this.

2. Flexible Ductwork

The second kind of ductwork you need to know about is flexible ductwork. It’s also called flex duct. It ranges in size from 3 inches up to 22 inches. This kind of ductwork starts with a round wire coil. That coil is covered with a polymer or plastic material that’s very durable but also bendable in nature. Manufacturers surround this with fiberglass before encasing everything in a thin jacket made of foil or polyethylene. Flex ducting can be made using other materials, including silicone, stainless steel, PVC, and rubber. It’s not always an insulated material. You might have to verify that if you choose this for your home.

The biggest advantage of flex duct is how bendable and flexible it is. Installers can use this to get ductwork over or around obstacles and corners inside your home. A lot of “play” with this material makes it much easier to install in any circumstance. If the flex duct you order is already insulated, that can further expedite the installation process. Flexible ducting usually has fewer seams that need connection, and that means there are fewer potential points for air leaks. This kind of ducting is also known for quiet operation.

Durability can be a concern. Sharp objects can easily penetrate several of the materials involved. Longevity is a similar concern, as many flex duct manufacturers only offer warranties of 10 to 20 years. Flex duct is also hard to clean. Sensitive techniques are crucial to keeping the inner polymer lining intact. The installation process can also have a higher risk of errors, given the softer structure of this kind of ductwork.

3. Fiberglass

Despite its name, fiberglass ductwork is actually a hybrid mix of two different materials. This kind of ductwork starts with sheet metal, but there’s an additional lining that involves fiberglass. The combination of the two means this type of ductwork has thermal insulation properties built right into it.

The benefits of the lining don’t stop at just preventing heat loss. It also works to keep condensation from collecting. The fiberglass lining is also known for muffling sound. That makes system operations quieter. Since duct sounds are absorbed in both heating and cooling, this is a very popular form of ductwork in commercial facilities.

Fiberglass ductwork does have a few drawbacks. Even though it’s partially sheet metal, it’s not as durable as sheet metal ductwork on its own. Intense cleaning is also necessary on a regular basis. Over time, the fiberglass lining might start deteriorating. That can mean particles get released into the airflow. With long-term exposure, serious health issues can impact anyone in that home or building.

4. Fiberboard

The last option you should know about for your home’s air ducts is fiberboard. These boards have several different components that work together. Inorganic glass fibers are bonded using compressed resin to hold everything together inside. The outside is typically a foil face that keeps air in the duct and water vapor out.

Manufacturers of fiberboard air ducts seal the inside to keep fiberglass fibers from getting into the air stream. These air ducts are usually some of the most affordable options. They work well for HVAC systems, given their built-in insulation. Many fiberboard ducts also absorb or suppress noise for quieter operation. Installers can customize or fabricate unique configurations when dealing with atypical layouts or conditions.

Fiberboard ductwork does have a few disadvantages. The rough surfaces of this kind of work might have a negative impact on efficiency and airflow moving through it. If you live in a humid climate, you should know that fiberboard ductwork can be prone to the growth of mildew and mold if there’s enough moisture in the air.

Main Ductwork Factors You Should Consider

Choosing the right kind of ductwork for your home is a decision that will impact you for years, so it’s one you want to be thorough about. Consulting HVAC professionals makes sense, given their familiarity with the various kinds of ductwork available. They’d also be responsible for the installation and cleaning of them.

Your available budget for ductwork installation will be a primary consideration, but it’s more complicated than just how much each one will cost you. The immediate expenses are usually the biggest, broken down into materials and labor. However, those are far from the only cost considerations. You must balance the initial costs with the durability of the ductwork you decide on.

Noise levels are also something to consider. Ductwork can get loud, or it can be soft. The vibrations that happen while air is moving through it will influence the background noise you have to live with for years when you run your HVAC.

Health and safety considerations are also especially important. Ductwork that’s easy to clean or isn’t easy prey to biological growth can help keep your home clean and the air safe to breathe. However, some kinds of ductwork might be riskier than others.

Find the Right One for Your Home

Each of these four choices can be the next ductwork in your home. To make the best decision, consult a reputable HVAC contractor for their expertise. We handle heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality services for homes in this market. Call us at Integrity Heating & Cooling for our duct work and sealing services in Charlotte, NC, or many of the surrounding communities.