Duct returns in your home do just what the term implies: return air to the HVAC system to be heated or cooled, then delivered back to the rooms through supply ducts. Only with fully functioning, balanced duct returns can your HVAC system supply heated or cooled air efficiently.
Many homes have just one or two central duct returns. While this design lowers construction costs, it’s not the most direct method of returning air to your furnace or air handler. To get air out of individual rooms and into the central return duct, grilles must be installed between rooms or interconnecting “jumper” ducts run through the ceiling. These open passages do not promote privacy in your home — air and sound alike are shared among rooms.
The most efficient way of returning air to your HVAC system is a multiple-room duct design where each room has its own dedicated duct return. Dedicated ducts are smaller and more easily routed through walls and ceilings and the return duct grilles are less obtrusive. Privacy is enhanced between rooms and air flow is also improved because air is returned directly to the heating/cooling unit.
A balanced HVAC system features positive pressure in the supply ducts and slightly negative pressure in the returns. The resultant airflow creates a desirable neutral pressure in rooms. Duct returns that leak may pull in excess air from outside the rooms, however, causing an imbalance where the amount of air delivered back to the room by the supply duct exceeds the amount removed from the room by the return duct. Positive pressure develops in the room, causing air to escape from every crack or gap, wasting precious energy. Leaky duct returns can decrease heating or cooling efficiency as much as 50 percent on a very hot or cold day. That puts a big hit on the comfort level in your home.
Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing has kept Grand Traverse County residents comfortable at home for more than 30 years. Give us a call for a professional evaluation of your ductwork and more advice on keeping your home environment in balance.
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.
|Duct image via Shutterstock|