Types of Ductwork: What Homeowners Need to Know About Ductwork
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You probably don’t give much thought to your air ducts regularly. That’s understandable. Like many components of your HVAC system, they’re usually out of sight, out of mind.

That said, your ducts play a crucial role in your comfort every single day. While you should always contact the professionals when they need to be repaired or maintained, it does help to know a little more about them. This overview will help you get started.

Understanding Different Types of Ductwork

Understanding what type of ductwork you currently have and the available kinds can make repairing, maintaining, or updating it easier. So what are the different types of ductwork?


There are often spots where installing rigid HVAC ductwork would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. This is particularly common in small spaces. When this happens, flexible ductwork provides the solution. As the name implies, it can be adjusted to areas of various sizes and shapes.

That said, flexible ductwork must be installed carefully by AC professionals. Bends or kinks must be minimized. Otherwise, they could reduce your HVAC system’s overall efficiency by restricting airflow. Additionally, if your flexible ductwork is connected to rigid ductwork, it may leak at the joint. If you have this type of ductwork already, keep an eye out for signs of reduced HVAC efficiency, such as abnormally high energy bills. If you’re planning on switching to it, make sure you hire trusted AC experts to handle the job.

Sheet Metal

This is likely what you picture when you hear the word “ductwork.” Often made with such materials as galvanized steel or aluminum, sheet metal ductwork is known for its durability. Puncturing it is far more difficult than piercing flexible ductwork. As a result, it can maintain your HVAC system’s efficiency for an extended period of time.

That’s not to say it’s always ideal. Are you installing new ductwork? If so, sheet metal may not be a practical choice in small spaces or areas that require a very complex layout. It’s also worth noting that sheet metal ductwork can still leak at the joints between sections.


HVAC systems can be noisy when they’re in operation. This is particularly true of large commercial air conditioning systems. Because of this, some office buildings and similar spaces use sheet metal ductwork lined with fiberglass, which reduces the noise level.

Unfortunately, it can also lead to health risks. When the fiberglass deteriorates over time, it may be expelled into the air. Mold and bacteria may also be more likely to thrive in fiberglass-lined ductwork.


Fiberboard consists of fiberglass strands. First, they are compressed, then bonded together with a resin, before a final layer of foil is added (this helps to protect fiberboard from moisture). Fiberboard is used for ductwork because it is highly insulated. Unfortunately, like fiberglass, it can create a perfect environment for mold to develop.

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When to Repair or Replace Your Ductwork

Again, knowing what type of ductwork you have helps you know what problems might arise in the future. You can guard against these problems by scheduling regular cleaning and maintenance service.

Of course, there will come a time when you need to replace your ductwork or install new sections. While that may not be necessary, as repairs might enough, you should at least contact an HVAC professional to inspect yours in the following situations:

Upgrading Your HVAC System

Just as there are several reasons to replace your ductwork, so too are there several reasons to replace your HVAC system. Maybe it’s old and has been consistently breaking down. Maybe you want to upgrade to a more efficient unit. Either way, your AC system needs to be compatible with your ductwork. That means you might need to replace your ductwork when replacing your HVAC system.

Building an Addition

If you’re planning on adding new rooms to your property, they’ll also need ductwork. When planning the installation, you might decide your current ductwork is too old, and you’d like all the ductwork to be new.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

It’s not always easy to know when your ductwork is failing. Some of the common warning signs may seem unrelated to the cause of the problem.

For instance, when ductwork starts to leak or fail, it can result in dust and other contaminants circulating into your home. Thus, poor indoor air quality is often a sign that it's time to repair your ductwork. Do so sooner rather than later to guard against health issues.

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High Energy Bills

Pay attention to your energy bills throughout the year. They should be fairly consistent. While they’ll never be exactly the same, you shouldn’t expect to pay vastly more on bills one summer when compared to the previous summer.

If you do, it could indicate your HVAC system is no longer operating as efficiently as it used to. This may be due to leaking ductwork. Regardless, you need to coordinate with HVAC professionals to determine the cause and correct it. The sooner you do, the sooner you can reduce your bills.

Old Age

Ductwork doesn’t last forever. If yours is more than 15 years old, hire a professional to inspect it. Old HVAC ductwork is more likely to leak, may have become a home for pests, and can even collapse in some instances.

Strange Noises

Do you notice any shaking or rattling sounds when you run your HVAC system? If so, contact an AC repair company. These noises typically indicate the ductwork is damaged in some capacity. They might also mean the ductwork is loose, which will have a major impact on your HVAC system’s efficiency. Once more, getting professional assistance right away is good for your wallet, as these problems will only worsen over time if you don’t address them.

That’s not something you have to worry about with Easy A/C on your side. Serving homeowners throughout the Tampa Bay area, we offer duct cleaning and maintenance, helping you keep your ductwork in the best possible shape for as long as possible. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact us today.

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