In part, the efficiency of your furnace (and central A/C) system is predicated on your home’s ductwork system, the delivery mechanism that sends heated (and cooled) air throughout your home. But it also returns air to your HVAC systems via duct returns, which is critical to ensuring healthy indoor air, appropriate ventilation and adequate home comfort.
How do you know if your duct return system isn’t performing up to par? There are four key factors that a duct return system should ensure:
- Enough airflow returned to the HVAC equipment. If there’s not enough airflow delivered back to the furnace, for instance, its efficiency will be compromised.
- A balanced supply of pressure throughout the home, which requires equal amounts of air supply to air return.
- Convenience for homeowners, because, in some cases, if you close the doors to rooms in your home, airflow can be impacted.
- A quiet air-distribution process. Some duct return systems are noisy, especially if they’re not balanced.
There are two basic duct return designs:
This system uses a duct return in every room of the home, and helps to ensure airflow, balance, privacy and noise levels. However, it often leads to higher losses due to friction, and requires a higher level of functioning from the blower.
Commonly used in older homes, this type of system uses a large grille for each level of the home to return air. This grille is located near the blower to maximize efficiency. However, it can restrict airflow if room doors are closed, unless a jumper duct or transfer grille is used between rooms. Transfer grilles work best if installed in the walls, because they generate less noise than vents that are used in a door. Ceiling jumper ducts are also effective at reducing noise.
If you’ve never had your home’s duct returns evaluated, call an expert to assess the efficiency of your system. An effective duct return design will enhance your comfort, and ensure efficiency and energy savings from your HVAC equipment. Call Arpi’s Industries, serving Calgary homeowners, for help with this project, or any other home cooling and heating needs.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about duct returns and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.