Homeowners benefit from a basic understanding of ductwork design. When you discuss the details of their HVAC system — answering questions and addressing concerns — it reflects your credibility and professionalism. You position yourself as a responsible contractor who cares about the comfort of those you serve.

Of course, ductwork design isn't as simple as some might think. Even so, you have to explain it in a straightforward way to homeowners who are unfamiliar with your line of work. They don't know what load calculation or flex systems are, and it's your job to explain this functionality in clear, concise language.

With this in mind, what's the best way to review ductwork design with people who don't know the first thing about it? How do you approach that conversation, and what are the points you should touch on? We'll answer these questions, walking you through everything to keep in mind as you talk to homeowners.

The subject of sizing

Your conversation should start with a general overview about the purpose of ductwork and its role in the distribution of airflow. It'll provide context, laying the foundation for the rest of your discussion. Once you're confident you've brought them up to speed, you can transition into the subject of sizing.

As you know, the homeowner's HVAC unit will determine the size of their duct system. You should use the example of heat pump systems and typical furnace/air conditioner systems. Heat pump systems require larger ducts for proper operation, as the efficiency of the system depends on proportional ductwork.

The subject of materials

When you've reviewed the subject of sizing with the homeowner, move on to the materials you're going to use. They might prefer a system fabricated from flexible ducts, or "flex" for short. It's a reinforced plastic tube which has insulation and a protective jacket, often the easiest and least expensive to install.

The homeowner has other options as well, such as sheet metal. While sheet metal usually lasts longer than a flex system, it's more expensive to install and can create noise when the fan stops and starts. It's an important point to bring to the attention of the homeowner as you continue your explanation.

Duct board uses pressed fiberglass. It's more expensive to install, but the homeowner will enjoy greater energy efficiency and quieter operation. They can also choose a combination of materials, taking advantage of the various benefits of sheet metal and flex systems in different areas of their home.

The subject of air quality

After you've touched on the previous two sections, you should discuss the subject of indoor air quality. The homeowner's decision concerning the air quality in their living space will affect the size of their HVAC equipment and ducts, so it's crucial to go over what they need to know in this specific area.

Air cleaning options like media filters and activated charcoal filters serve as excellent examples you can use during your conversation. These filters cause more resistance to airflow, but you can account for them by properly designing the return air system. Take this opportunity to talk about filter replacement.

The subject of load calculation

End your discussion with a brief description of load calculation. You can now enter all the information you've gathered into a computer program which will tell you the size of the HVAC unit the homeowner requires. It's an easy way to simplify the process of HVAC duct design before installation.

You should also touch on some basic HVAC advice for homeowners. Mention the importance of landscaping around an HVAC unit, watching out for ice formation in warm weather and the best schedule for routine maintenance. When you've covered all the bases, ask them if they have any remaining questions.

Feel confident as you continue

When you discuss ductwork design with a homeowner, talk about sizing, materials, air quality and load calculation. Make sure they have an informed understanding of their HVAC system, with an awareness of everything it entails. Once you've taken this necessary step, you'll both feel far more confident as you move forward with the installation.