What is a Return Air Duct?

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March 15, 2016


What is a Return Air Duct?The return air ducts are a key component of your HVAC system's air distribution network, but it's easy to overlook their importance since they don't send out heated or cooled air. To help you understand the vital role they play in maintaining your comfort and keeping the HVAC system working properly, let's take a closer look at what the return ducts actually do.

What's the Purpose of the Return Ducts?

After the conditioned air produced by your HVAC equipment gets distributed to the various rooms in your home through the supply ducts, it has to be drawn back to the furnace or air conditioner to be warmed or cooled again. The return side of the ductwork system fills this role, and it also pulls the incoming air through the HVAC air filter to remove dust and debris particles.

How Many Return Ducts Are Necessary?

To maintain neutral pressure in a home and proper airflow through the HVAC system, the ductwork needs to deliver and return the same volume of air. Ideally, you should have both supply and return ducts running to each room in the home, but older duct systems often have just one central return duct installed on each floor. If you don't have a sufficient number of return ducts, you can experience problems such as:

  • Negative pressure in the home that draws contaminants into the air supply.
  • Poor HVAC equipment performance and high energy consumption.
  • Extra wear and tear on HVAC components that leads to breakdowns or failures.

How to Maintain Ample HVAC System Airflow

To ensure adequate system airflow, make certain your ductwork is in good condition and properly sealed and insulated. Then, vacuum or dust all the registers frequently to keep debris out of the system, and check the air filter monthly and replace it whenever dirt starts to accumulate. Keep the return registers free from obstructions like rugs, long curtains or furniture, and avoid closing the supply registers.

If you have concerns about the return air ducts in your Fort Wayne home and need expert advice, contact us today at Hartman Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in New Haven, Indiana and surrounding Fort Wayne area 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 260-376-2961.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Serenethos/Shutterstock”

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