With more people packed into a single building, air quality and ventilation are vital to providing comfort in your building. Your structure should have a Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system to filter out any contaminants in the air and ensure that everyone stays at a comfortable temperature.
The HVAC system in your building relies on air ducts to distribute the processed air, so you’ll need well-planned ductwork. If you want to do over your HVAC ducts or plan on installing a new one, this article will review how to properly lay out your HVAC system.
Before buying the tools and materials, you’ll need to plan out what rooms need cooling and how to connect the rooms to the central HVAC unit through ducts.
One of the most common layouts is called the “Trunk and Branch System.” This design means one large supply duct and one large exhaust duct, both of these would be the ‘trunk.’ Smaller ducts connect to the central vents and are responsible for distributing fresh air or pulling out air from the room.
There are also other layouts available, and you must consult with an expert who’ll guide you on which one is best for your space.
To maximize the system’s efficiency, you’ll need to understand a bit of physics. You may know that cold air sinks and warm air rises. While this might be basic knowledge, taking advantage of it is vital, as working more with nature means you waste less energy trying to overcome it.
For example, if you’re goal is to cool down a room. Placing the cooling and return vents on the ceiling would be the best way to go, as cold air naturally falls and warmer air rises.
Another aspect you should consider is how you will clean out your ductwork. While your return vents should have some type of filter that you can clean regularly, dust will eventually build up on the walls, and it’s vital to clean these regularly. Also, you may encounter mold growth, so cleaning it out is critical.
You’ll need to plan where your duct access doors and panels will go, as it will provide you with an easier time cleaning out your ducts. Scrubbing away dirt and debris helps lower your electricity usage, as these obstructions make your HVAC unit work harder to achieve the same result as if it were new.
It’s essential to know the static pressure of your entire system, which also affects airflow and noise. Static pressure in your HVAC system is the airflow resistance within your ducts. Ideally, it should be close to zero, but it shouldn’t be too low as it presents problems.
Plan out your system by ensuring you have as many straight runs as possible. Elbows and bends create air resistance, making your central unit work harder than it needs to reduce its lifespan and increase energy usage.
At the same time, runs that are too long also present you with problems of not enough air reaching its destination. Here are a few signs to watch out for if your system has too much or too little static pressure.
Too Much Static Pressure
- Increased Noise
- Inconsistent Airflow
Too Little Static Pressure
- Missing Filters
- Air Leaks
- Disconnected Ducts
The factors discussed above certainly are the main things you should watch out for when mapping your ductwork. However, these other aspects may also affect your decision, and it’s good that you keep these in mind.
- Pets and Children – It’s no secret that children and pets can manifest a curiosity for vents and may find ways to open them up. You’ll need durable vent covers that secure your ducts properly to prevent damage and ensure no one gets harmed.
- Furnishings – Regardless if you have the most outstanding HVAC solution in the world, it would be useless if they get covered up by your house plants. You must ensure that your vents remain clear of any obstructions so the room can be heated or cooled correctly.
- Insulation – Aside from using the proper layout, creating a thermal barrier capable of retaining the perfect temperature is also necessary in this case. You can’t keep a room cool if heated air from the outside finds its way back in, and the case is also the same for heating. If you ever plan to redo your HVAC lines, it’s wise to check if your insulation will live up to your expectations.
Planning is Key
Your HVAC system is the key to working and living in a space comfortably. As such, you must have an action plan that can address all the goals you have for your interior. Once you get all the pieces together and finish up the installation, test out your system. You may find some aspects you can optimize to get the most comfortable space to make your life easier.