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The Return air duct and Supply air duct are the two main components that make up the cooling and heating of air in and around your house. The supply part of the air distribution system performs the role of delivering cooled and heated air into your rooms from your AC or furnace. What is a return air duct? This article got you covered.

The return air ducts suck air from the surrounding in each room using a different air vent and bring it back to the central system for heating or cooling. The whole air distribution system is a complete cycle whereby the same volume of air recirculates throughout your rooms. 

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The return air ducts are basically metal sheets and they are rectangular in shape. Apart from just delivering air back to the central unit, the return air ducts also build up the system’s filter. The air distribution filter is responsible for maintaining the good quality of indoor air.   

Maintaining Balance in the Room 

The return air ducts are mechanized and adapted to accommodate the amount of supply from the supply ductwork. The ultimate objective of installing an air distribution system in your house or across the room is to air balance indoors in terms of temperature and pressure. 

The system should ensure the same quantity of air brought back by the return ductwork matches the one delivered by the supply ducts. This condition is a favorable condition for cooling and heating.  

Reasons  for Air distribution Imbalance  

• Leaking air ducts 

Many air distribution system owners suffer this problem unknowingly. This article will not only answer the question ‘What is a return air duct?’ but also show you how to troubleshoot your air supply system. 

Leaky ductwork tends to draw air from outside into the system as well as leaking some air outside. This introduces extra air into the system thus altering the balance in the rooms and tips it from a neutral state to a positive one. 

During the positive pressure state, the conditioned air gets pushed through your room’s gaps and cracks. This state might demand high maintenance costs to keep your room temperature balanced all through.   

• Single return vent 

There might be pressure and temperature imbalance in your house if you have only one return air vent across your hallway. Every room should have a dedicated air return vent to maintain to keep the room pressure and temperature neutral. 

One should fix the air return and supply vents in each room’s doors or jumper ducts installed across the ceiling. Installing these accessories makes sure that air circulates from room to room, and reverses to the central air return vent.   

 

Don’t Block Your Supply or Return vents! 

As your cooler or heater system is on and working, it’s not only blowing air out to your environment; but also drawing some air in and out. Blocking any of your supplies or returning air vents will usually lead to an imbalance in the system. 

Some air  conditioner owners tend to block the vents to ‘save on energy by blocking conditioned air from the vents. This might lead to a critical condition in your system due to an increase in air pressure in your ductwork. 

This might lead to massive duct leaks which alter the system’s balance. Since your HVAC system runs at a constant and similar speed, you can’t control the energy consumption by blocking the vents. In simple words, the quantity of air leaving and entering your ductwork should be equal and balanced. 

Causing a difference in pressure will therefore bring discomfort and other efficiency issues. Moreover, an obstructed airflow or poor ductwork across the system might bring about similar problems.  

Signs of Pressure Imbalance in Your AC 

  • Inconsistent airflow 
  • Uneven temperature distribution i.e. experiencing cold and hot spots 
  • Condensation on air ducts 
  • Experiencing air leaks where ducts are connected.

How Air Return Ducts Benefit Your House 

1. Air pressure maintenance 

Apart from just answering ‘What a return air duct is’, we’re going to delve into the importance of having return air ducts in your AC system. The HVAC system recirculates heated and cooled air then delivers it to your room’s surroundings. 

The conditioned air is later drawn back to the central unit through the return air vents and recycled to maintain the air pressure balance in the surrounding.   

2. Helps save on energy bills 

You’ll only save on your energy bills if your Air Conditioner’s ductwork is perfect and all accessories perfectly installed. This will minimize the possibility of having leaks in and across the system. 

That’s why I highly recommend you trust installations from professionals. Remember to run an energy usage audit in your home periodically to make sure everything is in place.  

3. Maintains the Air quality 

With a lot of dust accumulating in our houses especially during the hot and dry climatic conditions, the air we breathe is always prone to impurities. Moreover, the air can also be contaminated by other allergens such as pet dander or even pollen. 

A working air conditioner with a clean filter is your perfect solution since it traps and filters your air to maintain good quality.  

What is a Return Air Duct – Conclusion

If you’re experiencing abnormal cooling or heating conditions in your home space, the problem might be your returning air vents. However, sometimes the problem might be an easy one to solve. 

You should try troubleshooting your Air Conditioning system first before taking another step. HVAC professionals and experts come in when the issue is out of hand whereby the system requires technical attention such as repairs and replacement of certain parts. 

Remember to avoid blocking or closing any return or air supply vents in the house since this causes an imbalance in air pressure around the house. This will eventually lead to consistent system malfunctions. 

Now that you already understand ‘what is a return air duct?’, you can easily troubleshoot and maintain your system to make sure it works efficiently and in your favor. Feel free to get back to this text as a reference whenever you need any clarifications about your return air ducts and supply ductwork as well. 

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