Leo's Tech Help: Ventilation And Air Losses In Duct

January 23, 2006
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Be sure to provide the amount of ventilation air set by codes. Insufficient ventilation can create health problems.

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that is a result of incomplete combustion. It is produced by propane, natural gas, or kerosene heaters that are faulty or unvented. It is produced by cars, trucks, and buses, and can be pulled in from the street if the outside air intakes are not properly located.

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is exhaled as we breathe. It can build up in crowded areas that are not properly ventilated. CO2 itself is not hazardous, but as it increases, the oxygen level decreases. Low oxygen levels are dangerous.

  • Many cleaning solvents, paints, colognes, adhesives, and other products give off hazardous or unpleasant fumes.

  • Copy machines produce ozone, which can be hazardous.

    Adapted from Indoor Air Quality from the Indoor Environment Technician's Library series. Visit www.lamabooks.com.


    The longer and more complex a duct system is, the less air it can deliver. This is because the duct creates resistance to airflow. Resistance to air movement is caused by friction losses and dynamic losses.

    When water flows down a stream, friction is created as the water rubs along the banks. As a result of this friction, water along the bank flows slower than the water in the center of the stream.

    In much the same way, air rubbing against the sides of duct causes friction. The airflow is slower along the sides of the duct. The friction causes some loss of pressure in the duct and is known as friction loss. The more duct there is, the more friction loss there is.

    Water flowing in a stream always has some disturbance to flow. For example, a rock in the stream makes the water swirl. A sharp bend in the stream causes swirls and eddies.

    Air moving in a duct also has disturbances. Dampers, coils, elbows, and offsets make the air swirl and eddy and disturb the smooth flow of air. Loss of pressure due to air disturbance is called dynamic loss. The more fittings there are, the more dynamic loss there is.

    Adapted from Airflow in Ducts by Leo Meyer, from the Indoor Environment Technician's Library series. Visit www.lamabooks.com.

    Publication date: 01/23/2006

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