The cost of building or renovating a home can be jarring for first-time homeowners. Ducting is an area where homeowners can realise significant savings by doing the installation themselves. This article looks at how to fit ducting together and install it into a typical one-story home with a basement.
What Is Ducting?
Ducting (also known as ductwork) is the system that carries the conditioned air from a heating and cooling unit to the registers in a home and out into the rooms. Usually made from galvanised steel, ducting is often installed in basement ceilings and through the floor. A ducting system has a supply path (carrying the conditioned air throughout the home) and a return path (carrying air from the home to the heating and cooling unit).
Do-It-Yourself Versus Professional
Professionals performing ducting installations are usually paid about $50 an hour. If homeowners do the work themselves, they can save thousands. They can also avoid expensive hardware and building supply stores by purchasing on eBay. The homeowner will need a few inexpensive and easy to use tools to carry out this work.
Ducting Installation Plan
The first thing to keep in mind is that installing an entirely new ducting system in a home should begin by designing the layout. For this part of the process, the homeowner can turn to a professional who can create a computerised plan for the home. This overhead perspective plan will show the correct location and sizes for the various ducts and registers in the home. However, it’s equally possible in a small one-story home to create an overhead plan simply by drawing it out on paper.
On the plan, create a route that begins at the primary supply duct leading from the heating and cooling unit. This should travel to the end of the house. Along the way, this route will have branches that lead off to the various vents and registers. At the same time, the plan should include a route from the return registers leading back to the supply unit.
Ducting Installation Safety Tip
It is absolutely vital when creating the plan to determine the location of electrical panels, electrical wires, cable TV lines, plumbing pipes and any other utilities that might be damaged in the process of installing the ducting. Not doing so is not only hazardous, it can result in very expensive damage to the home. A number of manufacturers offer devices that can detect wiring and plumbing without actually having to tear out the wall.
Using the plan and a measuring tape, measure out the overall length of the ducting that will be required. Also count up the number of duct elbows that will be needed. Start the actual installation by using sheet metal ductwork to connect the ducting to the supply unit. To make connections with sheet metal duct work, simply slide the uncrimped end over a crimped end. Then use sheet metal screws to secure it.
Assembling the Ducting
When assembling ducting, it’s very important that it be properly sealed. Otherwise it will release the conditioned air into unconditioned spaces, which reduces the efficiency of the system and increases monthly costs. Under no circumstances should homeowners use duct tape for sealing the ducting. Despite its name, duct tape is poorly suited to this purpose and will quickly peal off. Instead, it’s better to use metallic foil tape or mastic applied with a brush. Every joint in the ducting should receive this treatment.
The Ducting Between the Joists
Whenever it’s possible, the ducting should run parallel to (and between) the floor joists. Use galvanised hanging straps to secure the ducting in place. These hanging straps should be hammered into place every four feet. Both sides should be nailed to the joists. When it’s not possible to go between the joists, redirect the ducting below the joists (still attaching them to the joists with the hanging straps).
Connecting the Branches
Attach the ducting that branches off from the main line to the vents or registers in other parts of the home. Sheet metal duct elbows should be used to make any necessary turns. Use metal snips to cut the ducting so it will fit perfectly. There are small metal tabs on the collar that have to be bent down to attach it to the vent or register.
The Return Ducting
The return ducting is done in precisely the same way as the supply ducting. Simply start at the main unit and branch out to the rooms of the house. An important point with return ducting is that the grilles covering the vents must be totally unobstructed for the system to work correctly.
Shopping for Ducting Materials at eBay
Those who don’t happen to live close to a major building supply store can turn to eBay for the tools and materials needed for this job. A few typed in search terms like “ducting” or “mastic” will quickly present a range of choices and prices.