24 May 2023

Everything you need to know about ductwork installation

Considering ductwork installation for your business? Ductwork is essential in complying with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) regulations. They can also be used to regulate waste extraction systems, vacuum systems, and dust & fume extraction systems too. So whether you’re new to the concept of ductwork, or simply want to find out more about it, read on to learn everything there is to know about ductwork installation.

What is ductwork?

Have you ever noticed those tubes on the ceilings and walls of a place of work? That’s known as ductwork, ducts, or ‘ducting’. These objects form part of a larger ventilation system to provide clean air to an environment. They’re used to transport air from HVAC equipment throughout the workplace and must be maintained for a safe working environment. This is not to be confused with pipes used to transfer water or gas.

What is ductwork installation?

Ductwork installation is the actual process of designing and implementing a ductwork system within a workplace. They’re not a one size fits all system, as every building will have its own requirements, especially if they work with specific substances which may be hazardous to employees and the environment.

Ductwork can be installed throughout the building’s ceilings, walls, and sometimes floors too, depending on a client’s requirements. Ultimately, a well-designed ductwork system is important for good air quality. But if it’s designed poorly, employees can experience poor workplace health and safety conditions and unstable temperatures. From a business perspective, they can also cause increased energy consumption, hence why ductwork is commissioned to reduce this in the first place.

What does ductwork do?

Essentially, ductwork systems will feature ducts throughout a building that bring fresh air from a central HVAC unit to various areas of the workplace. They’ll also have return ducts that remove stale or contaminated air, and bring it back to the HVAC unit. Ductwork also has a variety of other uses, such as:

1. Providing conditioned air supply

As we touched upon, the supply ducts distribute fresh (or conditioned) air from the HVAC to the relevant rooms where they’re required. This conditioned air helps form a comfortable working environment by regulating temperature and humidity.

2. Removing pollutants from the air

Allergens, dust, and other contaminants can be removed with a properly designed and installed ductwork system, which supports the latter point of providing conditioned, clean air.

3. Balancing air distribution

Hot and cold spots can occur when improper ductwork is designed and installed. Properly designed and installed ductwork will ensure air is evenly distributed to ensure the temperature of the relevant room’s air is supplied to remains consistent.

4. Reducing energy consumption

Air leaks and improper airflow can impact ductwork’s efficiency and efficacy. Proper ductwork can help make a business environment more energy efficient and reduce the costs involved in cooling the workplace.

How is ductwork made?

Ductwork installation varies per business, as each will have their own set of requirements. However, ductwork is usually made and installed through the following process:

1. Initial consultation

In order to design, make and install ductwork, a consultation is needed to see where ductwork is needed in the workplace. 

2. Designing the ductwork

To answer a client’s solution, the designed ductwork system must be built to align with the building’s HVAC requirements. Depending on the size of the building will determine how air volumes, pressure drops and airflow patterns are calculated.

3. Material requirements

The designed solution will inform which materials are required for ductwork installation. Ductwork can be made from a variety of materials such as sheet metal, duct fabric and much more. In fact, DW144 Ductwork defines specifications for sheet metal ductwork, whether that’s for low, medium or high pressure/velocity systems, which is the UK standard for up to 2,000 pascals +/- ductwork systems. This also covers compliance with all current BS, EN, ISO standards and regulations.

4. Fabrication

Fabrication, or the process of manufacturing the ductwork, is done by the contractor within their own workshop or on the client’s site. The ductwork fabrication process involves and bending sheet metal to specific measurements and joining them together to create the bespoke solution.

5. Ductwork installation

The ductwork is then installed in the locations outlined within the consultation and design process, such as the ceilings, walls and even floors. The ducts are joined together and reinforced with a sealant to prevent the likes of air leakage (which can make the ductwork entirely redundant). During the installation process, ductwork insulation will be implemented to ensure energy wastage is kept to a minimum.

Why insulate ductwork?

Although heat loss from ductwork is inevitable, there are ways to reduce it. Ducts need to be insulated to stay within a temperature range that’s compliant with workplace standards and for the health and safety of employees. It can also help improve the efficacy of the ductwork system by preventing air leakage, which can result in higher energy consumption and bills. 

6. Testing

Once the ductwork installation is complete, it’ll need to be tested to ensure it fits the design spec and works as intended. Elements like pressure, temperature and airflow will be measured. From the data gathered, tweaks can be made to the ductwork system to get the desired level of performance required.

7. Aftercare and maintenance

It’s all good and well testing and signing off a fully-functional ductwork system, but it’ll need regular maintenance for it to function properly and keep workers safe. Airmatic provides Lev testing, Fire Damper testing, filter maintenance and other tests on a regular basis to ensure your installed duct system functions as it should. 

When should ductwork be replaced?

Though ductwork maintenance will increase the longevity of your ducting system, there will be a time when it needs to be replaced. Typically, the ductwork should be replaced anywhere between 20-25 years, as this is its typical lifespan. However, if you’ve noticed your ductwork isn’t functioning properly and there are multiple faults, then a new ductwork installation is in order. This is because it can affect your HVAC efficiency, as well as compliance with air quality regulations.

H2 – How long does ductwork take to install?

The length of time it takes to complete ductwork installation varies on the requirements. On average, larger-scale ductwork systems take anywhere from six months to a year to implement.

How to choose a ductwork installer

So now you know what ductwork installation is – choosing a ductwork installer can seem like a minefield. Fortunately, we’ve got a ductwork installer checklist you can follow while looking for the best ductwork installation provider.

1. Ask for references

Are you in regular contact with other businesses that also had ductwork on their sites? Ask who their suppliers are and how they dealt with the process. Were the ductwork installers easy to work with? Did they provide the ductwork solution in a timely manner? Get as much information from various vendors before making a decision.

2. Check the company’s credentials

Whilst browsing for ductwork installers, have a look at their credentials to see if they have specific licensing. At Airmatic, we hold CSCS skill cards, PASMA and IPAF status. Plus, we list the following expertise on the Airmatic facility’s page:

  • 2 x CNC Press Brakes
  • HD Plasma
  • Rollers
  • MIG/TIG Welding
  • Automated Seam Welder
  • AutoCAD
  • Cam Duct
  • Thin plate ductwork and fabrications

Plus, we’re in local partner networks for welding inspections, NDT and traceability

3. Check their experience

How many years has the business been running? If they haven’t been running long, do they have combined years of experience elsewhere and formed a new business? Specific case studies are also a great way to see how a company has provided ductwork installation solutions for a business – particularly if they feature a variety of sectors.

4. Get your money’s worth

It’s important for ductwork installers (and any business!) to provide multiple solutions to your business needs, particularly if you’re working with tight budgets and deadlines. A good ductwork installer will include details on price, annual costs for HVAC work, quality of the installation system and the like. 

Think your business could benefit from ductwork installation? Airmatic provides a host of ductwork solutions and fabrication for a variety of sectors. Plus, if you need any maintenance, our team of highly trained ductwork specialists are ready to help. Contact Airmatic to find out more about our installation service to support your HVAC needs.

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