Although it is often ignored, the ductwork that runs between rooms is one of the most crucial parts of any HVAC system. A typical residential home can have 90 feet of ductwork, but commercial structures will have drastically more than this. Ducting is by far the most significant part of any HVAC system, and, although it is not a mechanical part prone to failure, problems can have broad consequences for the performance of your heating and cooling systems. If you have been neglecting your building's ductwork, then it may pay to watch out for these three ducting issues that might be plaguing your building.
Dirty or Damp Ductwork
If you are noticing unusual smells from your air conditioning system, then there are two likely culprits: your HVAC filter or ducts. Unfortunately, one problem can easily lead to the other. If the filter or filters for your building's HVAC system are not regularly maintained, dirt and other debris can build up in your ducts. This build-up causes dust and dirt to be distributed throughout the building, but the situation can get much worse if damp air makes its way through the ducts. Moist, dark ducts are the perfect environment for mold, and once colonies take up residence, you are sure to notice an unpleasant smell throughout the building.
Although ductwork rarely requires regular maintenance, it is possible for ducts to become damaged and spring leaks over time. Leaky ducts are a particularly insidious problem because they are unlikely to produce noticeable symptoms at first. Your building's utility bills may increase slightly as a result of the decreased efficiency of the system, but the problem is likely to get worse over time. If the leak is especially severe, then you may notice hot and cold spots in the building, or there may even be areas that the HVAC system seems incapable of keeping at a comfortable temperature.
Improper Sizing or Design
While the two problems above are the result of poor maintenance or damage, more severe problems can result from improperly installed ductwork. Because commercial buildings require such a large amount of ducting, it is particularly important for installers to appropriately size and install it. Ductwork that is too small can lead to inefficiencies and even overstress on expensive equipment such as air conditioning compressors. Poor overall design (such as too many tight bends) can also place stress on the ducting itself, leading to leaks or other damage over time. Improperly installed ductwork is an expensive problem to remedy, but ignoring it will lead to more long-term costs and repairs.
HVAC ductwork can be easy to ignore, but the problems it creates can be costly. Be sure to have your building's HVAC system thoroughly inspected if you suspect any of these issues.
For more information on ductwork, contact a local commercial HVAC contractor.