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Buildings and Their Systems
1. Identify Basic Duct Configurations and Components
There are two major types of duct configurations, sheet metal and flexible duct work listed below.
Sheet metal ductwork
Sheet metal duct work is better for airflow than flexible duct work because there are minimal friction resistance along the line plus there is less room for error during installation such as kinking a line, making it too long or routing lines that result in poor airflow. Sheet metal duct work in homes is found as either round or rectangular and sometimes even has dampeners to balance the airflow.
Common problems found with rectangular duct work is that:
Flexible duct work
Flexible duct work is easy to install and comes insulated in either R-6 or R-8 wrap. Gray duct work installed in the 1970's begins to crumble and fall apart and should always be replaced. Common problems with flex duct work is:
Plywood duct work is usually what makes the inside a return plenum as picture below.
If you are so luck to find a home where the contractor used a sub floor or sheet rock chase as duct work, I wish you luck first getting the homeowner to do take action to fix it and actually fixing it. Sheet rock as duct work is rare but horribly leaky.
How to tell the supply from the return lines
2a. Building Components
2b. Conservation Strategies
2c. Comprehensive Building Assessment Process
2d. Design considerations