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Duct Work and High CeilingsDuct Work and High Ceilings – I did not see any reference to my question and would appreciate a response as soon as possible, as due to a medical situation, have to make a decision soon. We own an OLD house with 13′ ceilings in a large part of the home and 11″ ceilings in the LV/DR and BR. We are oscillating on where to place the ducts…Floor or ceiling. It appears to be counterproductive to me to put the duct work in the ceiling since it will have so far to go. We are looking for the most cost-effective, not upfront cost but operating cost, solution. In addition, we are considering DF heat pumps. The house will need 2 or 3 to be zoned correctly. Please let me know about the duct placement and thank you for your help?

Duct Work and High Ceilings - Duct Work Answer

Thanks for visiting High Performance HVAC and asking a good question. There is really not a good answer to your question as the best to place duct work is usually cost prohibitive. Before I cover the ductwork issue I want to address the issue of the high ceilings. It is best to reduce the height of ceilings that are too high if it doesn’t change or affect the overall look of your home. Lowering those ceilings will reduce the square footage you need to condition with your air conditioner or heating system whether it is a heat pump, gas furnace, boiler system, or electric heat. It will save you money in the long run by lowering those ceilings.

Ductwork is very important to your heat pump system and it’s important that the ductwork has airtight integrity so it delivers 100% of the conditioned air produced by the heat pump and delivers it into the space that needs conditioning. That is number one whether the ductwork supply diffusers come from the floor or the ceiling. The next most important thing about the ductwork is that it is insulated properly especially around the boots. Without proper insulation, these boots can sweat in the summer and cause moisture damage.

Duct Work and High Ceilings | HVAC Duct Work Systems

It is normally cost prohibitive to do the ductwork for optimal performance because it will require double the ductwork. For cooling, you want the ductwork diffusers in the ceiling because cool air falls and for heating, you want the ductwork diffusers in the floor because warm air rises. This is the most practical way of doing but it is cost prohibitive because it requires double the ductwork and additional controls between the heating mode and cooling mode.

What typically happens when ductwork is installed in a new home is the installer chooses the easiest and most practical way to install the ductwork. In a two-story home, the ductwork supply diffusers upstairs will be in the ceiling while downstairs the ductwork supply diffusers will be in the floor where the home has installed in the crawl space. If the home is on a slab then the ductwork is most likely in the ceiling downstairs also as the installer installed the ductwork before the final wall and ceiling finish was completed.

Duct Work and High Ceilings

In your case, I would determine what runs more…..the air conditioning or the heat. You can run your air conditioner 3 to 5 months of the year while the heat can run for 6 months of the year so it would probably be best to install the ductwork in the floor instead of the ceiling. That is if you run the heat more than the air conditioner. Good luck and I hope everything works out for you.

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Duct Work and High Ceilings

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