Here’s What to Know About Return Air Ducts

Here's What to Know About Return Air DuctsReturn air ducts are an important part of your HVAC system, but they are often neglected. Many homeowners aren’t aware that these ducts can affect HVAC performance and home comfort. Here are some things you should know.

What They Are

You already know that when your furnace or air conditioner kicks on, heated or cooled air comes out of supply registers in the floor, wall or ceiling. The job of return ducts is just the opposite. These draw air out of a room and to your HVAC system where the air is filtered and heated or cooled.

Balancing Return and Supply Ducts

It is best if every room with a supply register has a return air vent. This placement helps to balance airflow, which is important for maintaining neutral pressure in the home. Without this balance, several issues can occur, including loss of conditioned air to the outside or down drafting through flues and chimneys.

In many cases, especially in older homes, you won’t see return ducts in every room, however. Instead, you will have a large, centrally located return air vent, or a few vents scattered throughout the home.

Return Duct Care

Here are things you can do to improve the efficiency of your return ducts, which in turn will help the rest of your HVAC system:

  • Keep them unblocked — Don’t place sofas, cabinets or other obstacles in front of them. It helps to think of ductwork as a set of lungs, and obstacles create a smothering effect. Let vents breathe.
  • Clean the vents — Debris accumulates here as it is sucked onto the vent grills, and it impedes airflow. It’s easier to do a thorough cleaning job if you remove the cover and use your vacuum cleaner attachments on all visible areas. If your ducts have never been cleaned, or if it has been a few years, consider scheduling professional duct cleaning. The dust in ductwork eventually ends up inside your air conditioner or furnace and your home.

For more information about return air ducts and your HVAC system, please contact us at C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Serenethos/Shutterstock”

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