Common Questions About Duct-Work & Mini-Split Heat Pumps

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Q: Aren’t heating and air conditioning ductwork the same in all homes?

A: The fact is 20-30 percent of the air moving through a duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts.  This makes for an inefficiency of air flow, and if your equipment is outdate you could be losing another 20 percent efficiency just on the equipment.

When the ducts are in an unconditioned space with leaks and holes, uninsulated, it doesn’t matter where you keep the thermostat, you will always have higher utility bills and have difficulty keeping the home comfortable.

Q: My ductwork seems okay, why change upgrade ductwork now?

A: Often times a ducting system is not designed and installed properly, and the heating and cooling system will not work adequately.  If the return air duct and/or supply duct were undersized, it can restrict airflow and stop the flow where it is needed.

Common Questions About Duct-Work & Mini-Split Heat Pumps 1

Q: How can repairing or replacing ductwork make my home more comfortable?

A: Heated or cooled air is transferred from your HVAC equipment to the rooms in your home through the ductwork system.  If the correct amount of air at the correct temperature does not make it through the ductwork to the rooms, these rooms will not be heated or cooled properly.  Thus, you will have hot and cold spots and drafts in your home.  More important, there needs to be a proper path for the air to return to the HVAC equipment.  Many builders still ignore the return ducting requirement in order to save on the installation cost, which results in stuffy, uncomfortable rooms, and uneven heating and cooling in the average home.

Q: It’s time for me to get a new HVAC system.  What would be the advantage of a heat pump mini-split over the traditional boiler, gas/oil furnace?  Would the mini-split be more efficient than the traditional type and why are they so expensive?  Are they expensive to operate compared to traditional equipment?

A: I would like to break this down.

1.2. The advantages of a heat pump mini-split system over traditional systems

Common Questions About Duct-Work & Mini-Split Heat Pumps 2
  • The mini-split unlike central heat systems directs a precise amount of heat or cool air directly into zones.  Whereby only heating/cooling areas needed at the time.
  • Multi-Split systems also allow homeowners to create zones in their home, which means they no longer have to cool or heat rooms they are not occupying.
  • Improved Air Quality (IAQ) With traditional HVAC systems, air ducts have to be cleaned regularly by professionals—and even after cleaning, dust and allergens can remain behind.
  • Ductless systems can drastically reduce dust, bacteria, pollen, allergens, and other air-borne particulates. Ease of Installation—Ductless systems are easier and less time consuming to install.  Each indoor unit runs on small pipes from the outdoor condenser unit, requiring only a three-inch hole in your wall.  There is no need to rebuild you wall or ceilings around ductwork, and no loss of valuable square footage in your indoor space.
  • Reduce Carbon Emissions-Small, flexible, Energy Star, rated ductless systems run more efficiently than central air systems.  They also use R410A, which is far more friendly to the ozone than other refrigerants.

3. Cost

A: Though mini-split systems incur lower heating costs overall; initial installation is usually more expensive than traditional.  But if you factor in the cost of new ductwork that is design for the traditional system, the cost is pretty close to the same, but also factor in the lower heating costs and cooling in the years to come, you will come out ahead.

Air-to-water heat pumps and air-to-air heat pumps are cousins.  Although the initial cost of installing is high the level of energy efficiency is being promoted by Department of Energy (DOE) through spot cooling.

  • Why turn on central air systems when all you need is one or two zones?
  • Some believe that by using zone cooling/heating, rolling blackouts can be reduced if not eliminated.
  • Mini-split heat pumps are becoming technologically advanced.  They are very quiet (db below 30); the auto louver “sweeps” the air to help with air quality and temperature; auto restart/reset allows users to reboot after a power failure; 24-hour programmable remote control for temperature settings; sleep timers; multiple speed control; on/off for fan; dry mode for dehumidification.
  • Depending on manufactures, there are rebates/financing available for customers to apply:
  • Mini-Splits heat pumps are 30% more than central systems only when you do not include the ductwork. 

If you are replacing your equipment or designing a new system, it would be wise to have A1 Comfort Heating and Cooling, Inc., determine the efficiency of the preexisting ductwork, or design a new ductwork system, and how it would fit with the new system of choice.  Every home is different and so are the needs for comfort and indoor air quality,  Get a quote for more than one type system so you may make the right choice for your home.

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