Return air ducts are part of the HVAC system that aids with efficient airflow. These ducting systems introduce cooled or warmed air back to your furnace or air conditioner after the supply ducts introduce it to your home. This post takes us through the step-by-step guide on how to install a return air duct in the wall.
The return air ducting systems fit into your interior walls throughout different rooms of your home, except the kitchen and bathroom. Now, let’s see how to install a return air duct in the wall.
Why You Need to Install Return Air Ducting
Return air ducting does an excellent job of ensuring air circulates efficiently throughout your whole house. With the proper air ducting installed, the airflow in your room will be smooth, and you will rarely experience issues with drafty air circulation.
Virtually any heating and cooling system in your home will need return air ducting. Not installing the right return air ducting system can mean dealing with regular draft air circulation, overheating issues, and system inefficiency.
When the return air ducting does not function correctly, you will pay more on your energy bills as it restricts the performance of your HVAC system.
Where Should My Return Air Duct Be?
Step one in installing your return air ducts in a wall is to decide where to fix the ducting. The ducting will indeed go through your home walls, but you have to determine where exactly to install it.
Once you decide where you want the return air ducting to go, you should then cut a hole through the drywall location where you will install it. When fixing the ducting in your old house, you should not cut electrical wires or pipes passing in the target wall.
Start by cutting a small hole in the wall to see whether electrical wires or pipes pass through it. Once you have verified it is safe to cut in the wall, you have to size your wall hole properly and then cut through it towards the floor.
The resulting hole will flow into your home’s basement ceiling truss spacing. You can repeat the steps above multiple times until you have cut enough holes to match the return air ducts you want to install.
How to Add the Panning?
Locate the holes from your home’s basement. Add the panning to the opening starting from the farthest back area toward your home furnace. You must have a working home furnace to avoid any issues with its performance and the efficiency of your air return duct in the future.
Carefully nail your panning in the bottom section of ceiling joists. Starting from the far end, mark the panning and attach it to the flooring. Make sure all the panning is directed to the joists but at the exact location.
You will then need to notch the side and pull it up to the floor. Cut holes through the panning vertically toward the joist. That will provide a space for the air to the floor to the return air ducts from the panning.
Install A Brand New Ductwork
Now, install your square return air ducting in a perpendicular position to your joists. Place the air ducting carefully and correctly in all the holes you’ve already made in the panning. You will then need to cut the top return air duct holes so they match those in the panning to allow air to flow into your return air duct.
Connect the return air duct using drive cleats and s-slips at the bottom of your ceiling joists to create a tight seal on the panning. To achieve superior energy efficiency, you might have to insulate the return air ducting using 1½ inch foil duct wrap.
We recommend the foil duct wrap because it offers optimal resistance against heat loss or gain via the air passes installed in the return air duct. Use a 1-inch galvanized hanger strap to install ducting to the ceiling joists.
Once you have your ducts installed, it’s easier to have it maintained by HVAC professionals.
Install A New Air Return Ducting to Your Furnace
Now, try cutting a hole in the return duct bottom section toward the direction of the furnace. You will connect the second duct through this hole, which is supposed to flow downward and to your furnace.
To ease the connection, you want to cut a hole in the furnace side. Make sure the opening is of the same size as the filter rack. Connect the air ducts from the bottom return duct cut to the filter rack and the furnace. Before connecting your ducts, make sure you don’t have any ongoing issues with your furnace to guarantee 100% efficiency of the duct performance.
Install New Air Filters and Return Air Register Covers
The next step is to install the new HVAC filters into the filter rack. You want to ensure you caulk each air duct seams and joints using premium clear silicone caulk to achieve optimal energy performance. Then, screw the return air registers over the holes you had previously cut. You’ve successfully installed your return air ducting to the wall.
Can You Use Flex Duct For Return Air?
Yes, you can use a Flex duct to return air. However, there are certain conditions.
This kind of ducting is only applicable for specific pressures and must comply with strict temperature regulations. For using Flex duct to return air, the air should be no hotter than the required regulations by the IRC and the manufacturer’s specifications.
It would be best if you also considered pressure. Remember that you can only use a Flex duct for return air if it pumps air inside it at lower pressures than the standardized maximum pressure based on the duct’s diameter. It’s because a Flex duct can’t withstand the same pressures as a rigid duct.
Insulating the Flex duct may be needed if you want to use it for the return air duct, but that is entirely up to the discretion of the person installing the system.
How to Install Return Air Duct in Wall – Conclusion
Installing return air ducting in your home wall is not a process so easy to be done by a DIYer. You might try installing the ducting yourself if you have the tools, but you’re not going to get the quality of results you crave.
It’s for the reason you want to work with a skilled and certified HVAC contractor to ensure you install your return air ducting with a high level of accuracy. Contact professional HVAC technicians whenever you have a similar project such as installing cooling and heating systems if you are yearning for premium results.