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175 Strafford Ave. Suite 1, Wayne, PA 19087
|Ductwork in an attic is normally
the largest energy problem in the home or building. The reasons why this practice should
be avoided are comfort complaints, heating & cooling losses in the attic ductwork and
air handler, higher energy bills, maintenance difficulties and system failures.
In the Southeastern part of Pennsylvania, the average temperature in the winter is approximately 30 degrees and the average temperature in the summer is approximately 90 degrees. The average temperature in a properly ventilated attic should be within 20 degrees of the outside temperature. (50 in the winter 110 in the summer) The average temperature of the air in the supply ducts in the winter is 120 degrees and 60 degrees in the summer. This is a temperature differential between the attic air and the air inside the ductwork of 70 degrees in the winter and 50 degrees in the summer.
To have a correct thermal envelope would be to have the highest point of the house be the highest R value. Attic insulation of 10+ inches (R 30), would be the best. Also all penetrations into the attic should be sealed and all joints in the ductwork and attic air handler should be sealed. However, most attics are not built with any regard to proper sealing and ventilation or heat and cooling losses.
Most HVAC contractors install cooling systems in the attic based on the theory that cold air falls down. However, the real reason most of them install them in the attic, is that it is a lot easier and less expensive to install the system. there are a number of problems with this type of installation:
ATTIC AIR HANDLER and DUCTWORK PROBLEMS:
In many attics the air handler system is installed in the corner, sometimes behind the supply and return ductwork. The only way to get to the filter for regular cleaning or replacement (monthly) is to climb over the ductwork, sometimes damaging the ducts. Most homeowners dont even go into the attic to change the filter, even if the air handler is easy to access. Because of this hard to access filter, most filters are not changed on a regular basis, causing the filter and cooling coil to become dirty and clogged, reducing the efficiency and air circulation of the already inefficient system. The house will have increased operational costs and the furthest rooms from the air handler will not be cooled or heated efficiently or adequately.
Most homeowners, many HVAC contractors and architects are not aware of the problems associated with attic ductwork installations. With the above information we hope to provoke some alternative designs.
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