Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
A/C - HEAT PUMP CONTROLS & SWITCHES
AIR CONDITIONER COMPONENT PARTS
AIR CONDITIONER TYPES, ENERGY SOURCES
AIR FILTER EFFICIENCY
AIR FILTERS, FIBERGLASS PARTICLES
AIR FLOW MEASUREMENT CFM
APPLIANCE DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
BLOWER FAN CONTINUOUS OPERATION
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - Air Conditioning "How To" Books
CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS
CLEANING & Legionella BACTERIA
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
DEFINITION of HEATING & COOLING TERMS
DEW POINT CALCULATION for WALLS
DEW POINT TABLE - CONDENSATION POINT GUIDE
DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DUCTS - Asbestos
DUCT INSULATION, Asbestos Paper
DUCT INSULATION for SOUNDPROOFING
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
DUCT SYSTEM NOISES
DUCTS, Asbestos Transite Pipe
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS
FAN LIMIT SWITCH
FAN NOISES, HVAC
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) in buildings
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HEATING SMALL LOADS
INSPECTION CHECKLIST - OUTDOOR UNIT
INSPECTION LIMITATIONS, A/C SYSTEMS
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
LOST COOLING CAPACITY
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
MOLD in AIR HANDLERS & DUCT WORK
OPERATING COST, AIR CONDITIONER
OPERATING DEFECTS, AIR CONDITIONING
REPAIR GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
REPAIR & DIAGNOSTIC FAQs for A/C
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
THERMOSTATIC EXPANSION VALVES
WATER COOLED AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL A/C SUPPORTS
Undersized return air duct problem diagnosis & cure: this HVAC ductwork article describes the problem undersized return air openings - a problem that can be observed during inspection of the defects in return air ducts for heating or cooling systems (HVAC).
We also discuss duct troubles such as such as missing air conditioning cool air supply or return air registers, undersized air conditioning duct openings, improper cooling duct routing, cooling (or heating) air duct corrosion, leaky air duct connections, defective heating or cooling ductwork materials.
The photograph above shows a small HVAC return air duct located on an interior building wall. Whether or not this return air duct is adequate depends on how many such returns were installed in the building and whether or not the return air capacity is balanced with the air handler and air supply ducting.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
When we see amateur attempts to add supply or return air to a system, such as observation of unanticipated openings in building walls, rough-sawn door undercuts, additional openings cut in the return duct or plenum near the air handler, we suspect system design problems. It is possible that previous occupants have found that the warm air supply was not adequate.
Should you confirm problems with inadequate heat delivery in some areas you'll want to consult with an HVAC engineer to make accurate measurements.
Door undercuts, central cool air return: If room doors are shut and not under-cut to permit air flow out of the room, the system's ability to cool the room may be reduced, sometimes significantly.
Try running the cooling system for 10 minutes with all room doors shut. Then open a room door slightly and see what happens!
When a building uses a central return air grille and doors are not undercut heating some rooms may be difficult - system cannot push cold air from the cooled or heated room back to the furnace.
While modest amounts of new duct work (to take return air from the living area) are usually not costly, extensive re-ducting of air flow may involve significant expense
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Question: is our heat pump return register too small? What about noisy heat pump operation?
We recently had installed an American Standard 2 ton 14 seer heat pump in an 1,100 sq ft basement. The basement is now finished but I continually questioned the installer on the size of the return.
The unit is multi-staged and when it ramps up the return is very loud. He installed a 14 by 20 inch return because it fit neatly between the studs. He used 8 ft of round flexible ducting to the air handler.
He also suggested I use the cheap thin filters for lower sound levels and better air flow. There is also a place for a 20 by 20 inch filter at the air handler which he said could be used instead of a filter at the wall return.
Could you please let me know how large the return should be and any pointers on filter use. - D.K.
Reply: Return duct eyeballing and guesstimating
A competent onsite inspection by an HVAC expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem or could certainly make a more accurate statement about the needed return air inlet and duct layout. And I don't want to get too far into speculation by second guessing your installer since I don't know enough. That said, here are some things to consider:
Noise: I'm not sure what noise you are describing; if it's airflow it could be related to the return and return duct
Questions & answers about too-small or blocked or undersized air conditioning, heating, and heat pump ductwork return air registers and duct connections
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.