Air Ducts 101: Ductwork VS Duct Work, What’s the Difference?Billy Pell
When referring to the ventilation aspect of HVAC, do you say “ductwork” or “duct work” when referring to an air duct system in a home or building? Word differences like this one might seem trivial to one. They might also be educational to another.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, ductwork (one word) means “ducting” or “a system of ducts.” A duct (as a noun) is defined as “a pipe, tube, or channel that conveys a substance.” Lennox defines ductwork well: “Ductwork refers to the system of ducts (metal or synthetic tubes) used to transport air from heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment throughout your home. Properly installed and well-maintained air ducts are a key component of indoor air quality and home comfort.”
Duct work (two words) is more appropriately used to describe work performed on ducts. Aire Serv has a nice one-liner on its blog, “It’s simple – if you want your ductwork to work, you’ve got to do a little duct work.” Read the full Aire Serv blog post here.
- Ductwork: a system of ducts
- Duct: a pipe, tube, or channel that conveys a substance (HVAC ducts convey air)
- Duct Work: work performed on ducts
Now that we’ve distinguished between ductwork and duct work, let’s take a deeper look at the latter: duct work (two words).
Quality Duct Work Improves HVAC Equipment Performance
Many HVAC contractors can overlook the importance of duct work: work performed on ducts. It’s one thing to install best-in-class SEER air conditioning units and AFUE furnaces. It’s another thing to ensure proper duct performance for distributing conditioned air to the desired rooms/spaces in a home or building.
The Journal of Light Construction published a helpful article about quality control for ductwork. Read the full story here.
Here’s three types of duct work (two words) that every home and building needs:
As you run your HVAC equipment and conditioned air gets distributed through your ductwork (one word), it’s important to clean your ducts to avoid buildup of nasty stuff like dust, dirt, and airborne allergens that can get blown into your living spaces. For more information about the importance of duct cleaning in homes, the National Association for Duct Cleaners of America (NADCA) is leading authority on best practices and how to do it right. Read about duct cleaning on the NADCA residential blog.
When installing ductwork (one word), it’s important to wrap the ducts with insulation to avoid the conditioned air losing its conditioned temperature due to the external side of ducts being a different temperature than the inside of ducts. For more information about insulation in homes, visit the Owens Corning site or This Old House on the web.
To ensure proper duct performance, it’s important to plug any holes/cracks (big and small) in ducts where conditioned air can leak from the ducts before it reaches the desired room/space in a home or building. It also helps keep unconditioned air in attics, crawlspaces, and garages from entering the rooms in a home (or building). See how Aeroseal duct sealing works in homes.
Want to Learn More? Ask the HVAC Expert
About Ken Summers
Ken Summers has more than 30 years of experience in the HVAC industry. Starting in 1980, he did residential service, in-home sales, and commercial design/build. In 1995, he joined Retrotec, a manufacturer of test instruments used in performance contracting such as blower doors and duct air tightness testers, where he trained contractors how to use test instruments to understand better on how houses worked from a comfort and indoor air quality (IAQ) basis. In 1998, he co-founded Comfort Institute (CI), a leading home performance training organization. For the past 20+ years, he has been with CI helping progressive HVAC contractors adopt whole-house and air distribution system diagnostics and repair. In 2014, CI joined Aeroseal where Ken is the Vice President of Training. Ken specializes in helping contractors avoid common issues related to HVAC load calculation and duct design mistakes, duct leakage problems, thermal envelope repair, and mold related issues across the country. He has spoken at many industry leading events including ACCA, PHCC, RSES, EPA, EGI as well as being brought in to speak with local utility and code officials across the country about how the house works as an interactive system.