HVAC duct designDon’t be alarmed–as far as we know, there are no octopi inhabiting HVAC ducts, although if they ever show up you know who to call! No, we’re talking about the “duct octopus,” a phenomenon in which ducting is run willy-nilly all over the house, and the HVAC unit looks like it’s spreading tentacles of ductwork! In our landlocked Central Valley, this is often the only tentacled creature we see! It’s also usually a sign of an older home that’s had a lot of different contractors work on it. If your HVAC duct design looks more haphazard than planned, you might benefit from a duct inspection–and possibly a streamline job!

What Is “Duct Streamlining?”

As one client put it two years ago in Lodi: “It’s like pruning a tree!” And while that doesn’t encompass all the nuance and complexity of our process, it certainly gives the right image. We’ll take complicated systems of ductwork, do a thorough examination of the entire HVAC system, and figure out what we can get rid of, what we can combine, and what has to stay exactly as it is. We call it “streamlining,” but often this process looks more like a complete re-ducting of the HVAC system. We’ll look at output, manufacturer’s recommendations of all the HVAC equipment, and the needs of our clients as well as home layout. Sometimes we can use what’s in place, but often we end up scrapping most of it for the right ductwork.

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. It can also be messy and expensive at times. The same client who likened the process to “pruning a tree” later went on to observe that they’d rather we’d pruned a tree in their living room: it would have been less mess! Fortunately we’re even better at cleaning up messes than we are at making them; we take cleanup seriously and make sure that none of our clients are left holding the bag on one of our jobs!

That particular client was tickled pink when we were finished. The result of streamlining HVAC duct design is better HVAC efficiency, aesthetically pleasing ductwork, and the ability to look at your HVAC system without getting a headache. They’d had a real “ductopus” in their home, and we left it looking like the ducts had been laid out with intent and installed by professionals–which, when we were done, was exactly the case!

What About Duct Resizing?

A new stovetop fan may need bigger ducts than the old one did. Or maybe your ducts are the wrong size for the new furnace. It’s pretty common: new appliances get installed and they have different requirements than the old ones. Most homeowners figure they’re paying to get the appliance installed, not the ducts worked on, and many contractors are happy to leave it at that. Sometimes, the necessary work doesn’t get done–or if it does, it’s not up-to-spec with how it should be done!

Honestly, that’s how a lot of “ductopi” are born: folks have one thing done after another, often by different contractors, and that means we often arrive too late to prevent duct disasters from occurring. And then we’re looking at a real “ductopus” indeed–not something that can be easily dealt with!

It’s a pity, because resizing ducts the right way can save you money on installation as well as increase the lifespan of your system. Pushing air through too-small apertures is a good way to do bad things to your HVAC system–which we often harp on here in this blog. If your ducts aren’t the right size you’ll be risking your warranty at best, and looking at broken equipment more often than not.

I Have a Ductopus–Now What?

Many ductopi appear harmless at first–even if you know that’s not how your ducts should look! Some of these are pretty obvious to the naked eye, but many are not quite so apparent. If you’re in doubt, get Bell Brothers to check it out. People often manage to ignore big problems, especially if they see it every day, and the result can be bad for your HVAC system!

Ductopi and badly-sized ducts are inefficient. Hard to spot or not, they’re always more expensive to run than a streamlined, right-sized system. That means money on your utility bill every month, in addition to more repairs over the years. You’ll be dealing with short and long term consequences! So if your HVAC duct design looks bad, give us a call. Bell Brothers can fight any ductopus known to man, and we can make sure your ducts–as well as the rest of your HVAC system–are in tip-top shape!