5 Key Things To Know About Return Air Ducts


In American homes, 48% of the total household energy usage goes towards heating and cooling. The rest goes towards our appliances and electronics, water heating, and home lighting.

A century ago, heating and air conditioning used to be luxuries, but now they’re practically required utilities.

But, for as much as we depend on heating and cooling, how much do you really know about HVAC systems and their return air ducts?

The more you know, the easier it will be to maintain the system or at least know when it’s time to call in a professional. Read on to learn 5 important things you should know about return air ducts.

  1. All Forced-Air Systems Need Them

Whether you’re using your HVAC system to heat or cool your home, air has to circulate throughout your home. Every traditional HVAC system uses return and supply air ducts.

When the air conditioning runs, cool air comes out of the supply vents in each room and makes it feel more comfortable. To keep the room cool, the air returns to the condenser to get cooled again.

  1. They Balance HVAC Air Flow

You might think that temperature regulation happens at the thermostat, but the return air ducts also play a big role.

The HVAC system needs an equal amount of air entering and leaving each room in order to work. Without this balance, your furnace or air conditioner wouldn’t be able to keep up. That would lead to a home that feels too hot or too cold.

  1. The Ducts Need to Be Properly Sealed

If you’ve ever tried to use a drinking straw that has a crack in it, you’ll understand the importance of a good seal. A strong seal will create a vacuum and allow your beverage to travel up the straw.

The same thing applies to your HVAC system. If the return air ducts form an air-tight vacuum, the system can efficiently pull the cold or warm out of the room and send it back to the furnace or air conditioner.

  1. They Have to Be the Correct Size

Return air ducts also must be the correct size to work properly. If they’re too small, a room might feel too cold when you’re running the air conditioning. If the ducts are too big, your HVAC unit might have trouble keeping the room cool enough.

Your HVAC professional will consider the size of your furnace or AC unit as well as the size of your home to calculate the right duct size.

  1. They Need to Stay Clean

HVAC return air can be full of dust, pet, dander, and other irritants. After all, the return air is what’s already been circulating in each room.

That’s why it’s important to keep the air return grille free of dust. If there’s dust collecting on the grille, that means there might be dust build-up on the air filter too.

Once a month, you should open the grille and check the air filter and replace it when it’s dirty. This will protect your air ducts and your indoor air quality.

Are Your Return Air Ducts Working Properly?

Return air ducts allow air to circulate around your home. They’re a critical part of your HVAC system even if you can’t see them. Make sure to clean your air filter and call a professional if you notice any issues.

To learn more about maintaining your home, keep scrolling our blog for more articles like this one.

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