What are ducts?

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You know your home has ducts. You know you have to clean and maintain those ducts. But what are ducts, and what do they do?

Basically, ducts are just passages for air. They’re used for heating and cooling and are vital to keeping your home comfortable. More importantly, ducts are necessary for air circulation and ventilation. They’re what enable our modern airtight buildings and homes to have access to clean air and better indoor air quality. 

Four different types of materials are used to make ducts in North America: 

  • Sheet metal ducts: Sheet metal ducts are made of galvanized steel or aluminum. Sheet metal ducts are durable and more mold resistant than other types of ductwork.
  • Fibreglass lined ducts: Some sheet metal ducts are lined with fiberglass on the inside. Fiberglass regulates temperature and muffles sound. Because of this, they’re popular in populated environments like apartments and office buildings.
  • Fibreboard ducts: Fibreboard ducts are made of fiberglass held together by resin. Fibreboard ducts can be made to accommodate tight or oddly shaped spaces easily.
  • Flexible ducts: These ducts are made out of spring material. Because they are flexible and easily contorted, they are typically attached to the above duct materials at entry and exit points.

Collectively, a series of air passageways made from one or more of these materials come together to form the ductwork. Ductwork is the connected system of ducts hidden behind the walls and ceilings of nearly every building. Think of the furnace as a building’s heart and the ductwork as the veins and arteries. As the furnace pumps out air, ducts circulate this air throughout a home or building. Supply ducts send air outwards, while return ducts draw it back towards the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to be recirculated. Together, they keep temperatures uniform and help to improve indoor air quality. 

Fresh air can also be drawn into your system from outside of your home. It’s then passed through your HVAC system to be warmed up or cooled down. While reaching its perfect temperature, air will also pass through filters to eliminate potential irritants.

Ducts are essential for two major reasons:

Ducts help to regulate the temperature inside. Ductwork that is installed properly and regularly maintained allows the temperature inside to accurately reflect what you have set on the thermostat. If you regularly feel hot or cold despite having your system set at your ideal temperature, it might be an indication that something is wrong with the ducts, which could include blockages or inadequate distribution of ductwork for optimal circulation.

More importantly, ductwork is designed to keep the air inside safe to breathe. Dust, dust mites, allergens, pet dander, and even mold spores can all accumulate indoors. By keeping your ductwork clean and your indoor air properly filtered, you can help to remove these contaminants and increase your air quality. Duct openings, aptly named vents, are typically covered to prevent debris from entering your ducts. 

Vent covers and mechanisms within the furnace do a pretty good job of ensuring air is safe and of the highest quality. No matter how pure the air from your furnace is there will still be potentially harmful air coming into your home through doors and windows. This is why the airflow ducts provide is so important. They keep air moving so that any potentially harmful particles in air don’t have time to cause problems. 

The comfort and service ducts provide make them a vital part of any home. However, while they work hard to keep your home comfortably warm or cool, they’re prone to getting dirty. Changing your filters regularly will help to remove contaminants from circulation, but you’ll likely still see a buildup of dust and allergens eventually. 

If you don’t keep your ducts clean with regular professional cleaning, they won’t be able to do their job. If ductwork is your home’s veins and arteries, dirt and debris are plaque. It’s recommended that you get your ducts cleaned every couple of years, or more frequently if you have pets or allergic symptoms.This will keep them functioning at their best, and will also reduce stress on your HVAC system. 

Getting ducts cleaned is easier said than done. Be wary of duct scams that have become increasingly common. You don’t want to find yourself with an HVAC “specialist” in your home who does nothing but try to upsell you on redundant services you don’t need. 

When it comes to maintaining ductwork, find a reliable and professional company that uses high quality negative air equipment. Ducts are far too important to your home’s comfort and safety to take a gamble on. If you live in the Winnipeg area, Whyte Ridge Furnace & Air Duct Cleaning can provide the highest level of service. Our trustworthy technicians will show up on time and provide you with superior and affordable service.