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Types of Ductwork & How Each Works

August 16, 2023

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Homeowners often wonder, what is ductwork made of? This is a fair question, as knowing more about its construction can help ensure you maintain it properly. You might also understand some mistakes to avoid when it comes to cleaning and repairs.

In most cases, manufacturers use thin sheet metal to create residential ductwork. Also, plastic and wire coil create flexible ducts, used to work ducts around obstacles. Ductile iron, PVC, and other materials are commonly found in commercial properties but not so much in residential homes!

This is just a quick summation of ductwork materials. Some added details about ductwork, HVAC features, and other installations are helpful for any homeowner. Also, if you’re concerned about your property’s condition, call an HVAC repair contractor near you. They can perform expert inspections and repairs when needed.

what is ductwork made of

What Is Ductwork Made Of?

Manufacturers use various materials for ductwork, used to distribute air for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Chosen materials depend on the intended use, budget, and specific requirements of the installation. Some common materials used for ductwork include:

Sheet Metal

Sheet metal, typically galvanized steel or aluminum is a common material for ductwork. This material offers excellent durability and fire-resistant properties. Manufacturers can also easily fabricate sheet metal into various shapes and sizes to suit different HVAC needs.

Flexible Ducts

These ducts are made from a combination of plastic and wire coil, covered with a flexible and insulating material. Flexible ducts are used when installation space is limited. Also, flexible ducts can be routed around obstacles such as framing, pipes, and the like.

Dryer hoses are an example of flexible ducts. You might notice the flexibility and strength of these ducts. The flexible material also allows you to twist the duct around the back of the dryer to a nearby vent.

Fiberglass Duct Board

This type of ductwork is made from fiberglass insulation materials formed into panels with an aluminum facing. Fiberglass is used in situations where thermal insulation is important. It combines both the duct material and insulation in one.

Ductile Iron

It’s not likely that your home has ductile iron ductwork. Ductile iron is strong and durable, often used for larger commercial or industrial ductwork systems. It's less common than sheet metal in HVAC applications but can be used for specific purposes.

For example, ductile iron can handle higher temperatures than other materials used in HVAC ductwork. This makes it suitable for conveying hot air or gases in industrial settings where extreme temperatures are involved. Also, ductile iron's durability and resistance to corrosion and abrasion make it a suitable choice for air containing corrosive chemicals or damaging.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC ductwork is often used for exhaust and ventilation systems in corrosive environments, such as chemical laboratories or industrial facilities. However, it’s not used commonly in residential settings. Sheet metal often provides the durability needed for most homes at a more affordable price.

Fabric Ducts

Fabric ducts are made from permeable fabric materials. These are used in applications where air distribution needs to be diffused more evenly. This includes commercial spaces like retail stores or gymnasiums.

Insulated Panels

Pre-insulated duct panels are made from insulating materials sandwiched between layers of sheet metal. They provide both insulation and duct material in one package.

commercial ductwork

What Is the Most Common Material Used in Ductwork Fabrication?

The most common material used in ductwork fabrication is sheet metal, typically galvanized steel or aluminum. Here's a breakdown of why manufacturers use these materials more often than others:

  • Galvanized steel is a popular choice for ductwork due to its durability, strength, and fire-resistant properties. It consists of steel coated with a layer of zinc, which provides protection against rust and corrosion. Galvanized steel ducts are well-suited for both residential and commercial applications. They easily withstand various environmental conditions.
  • Aluminum is another common material for ductwork fabrication. It is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and easy to work with. This makes it a preferred choice for residential installations and situations where weight is a concern. Aluminum ducts are often used in homes, offices, and other buildings.

Both galvanized steel and aluminum offer durability, fire resistance, and flexibility for fabrication. The choice between these materials often depends on specific HVAC requirements, budget, installation environment, and personal preferences.

How Do I Know If My House Needs New Ductwork?

Determining whether your house needs new ductwork involves assessing the condition of your existing duct system. You’ll need to check various factors related to its performance and efficiency. Check out some signs that might indicate the need for new ductwork:

  • If certain rooms in your house are consistently hotter or colder than others, it could be a sign of ductwork issues. Poorly designed or leaky ducts can result in uneven airflow and temperature distribution.
  • If your energy bills have been steadily increasing despite regular maintenance of your HVAC system, inefficient ductwork could be a contributing factor. Leaks, gaps, and poorly insulated ducts can cause conditioned air to escape, leading to energy waste.
  • If you notice weak airflow from your vents or a lack of airflow in specific rooms, it might indicate duct obstructions, blockages, or leaks.
  • Have you found excessive dust around your home or are you experiencing worsening allergy symptoms? Leaky or poorly sealed ductwork could be allowing dust, pollutants, and allergens to enter your living spaces.
  • If your ductwork produces rattling, banging, or other unusual noises when the HVAC system is running, it could be a sign of loose or damaged ducts.
  • Inspect visible portions of your ductwork for visible damage, such as disconnected sections, kinks, or rust. Cracks, holes, and corrosion can affect the performance of the system.
  • If you've made significant changes to your home, such as adding rooms or remodeling, the existing ductwork might not be properly sized or designed to accommodate the new layout, necessitating modifications or replacement.

A Quick Word From Our HVAC Team

Cypress AC Repair Pros is happy to answer, what is ductwork made of? Hopefully we’ve given you some good information to consider! Also, call our Cypress AC repair contractors when you’re ready for expert services on your property.


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