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Understanding Return Air DuctsWhile all your air ducts affect your system’s ability to ward off the greater Cleveland area’s early spring chill, not all air ducts do the same job. Return air ducts play a significant role in your home’s energy efficiency.

Why Return Ducts Matter

Your duct system has two types of ducts: supply and return. The supply ducts channel conditioned air from the air handler out to the air registers in your rooms. That is, they supply your rooms with warm or cool air. Return air ducts channel air from rooms back to the air handler. They’re connected to the air grilles you might find on the walls or ceilings of your hallways and larger rooms.

The return ducts help maintain good air circulation, preventing hot and cold spots, and keeping your rooms from feeling stuffy. Balanced airflow prevents indoor pressure imbalances that can push conditioned air out through leaks around doors, windows, and elsewhere. This means less wasted conditioned air. It also prevents damaging pressure imbalance issues within your HVAC system.

Optimizing Your Return Ducts

Ideally, every room except the kitchen and bath should have its own return air grille. At the very least, each level of the house should have one. Even so, many homes were built with just one or even no return ducts in an attempt to cut costs.

If you find your home has insufficient return ducts, ask a heating and cooling technician about adding more. In some cases, additional ducts can be installed in the wall cavities and connected with the main return duct. Depending on the construction of your home, however, your technician may opt for other methods. Door undercuts and transfer grilles can also help ensure sufficient return airflow.

Maintenance matters, too. Make sure your return grilles aren’t blocked by drapes, furniture or other items that could interfere with airflow. Clean the grilles when you clean your air registers once or twice a year.

For help optimizing your return air ducts, get in touch with us at Stack Heating & Cooling in the Greater Cleveland area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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