Ductwork installation costs are often one of the most substantial contributors to the overall price of an air conditioning retrofit. Installing central air conditioning into an older home without a forced-air heating system requires some demolition and disturbance since ductworks need to go behind walls, in ceilings, etc. The two standard options for new ductwork are flexible (flex ducts) and rigid. Many installers view rigid ductwork as a longer-lasting, higher-end alternative, but flex duct has numerous advantages. If you're retrofitting ductwork into an older home, consider these three reasons why flexible ducts may be a much better solution for your situation.
1. Lower Installation Costs
One of the primary benefits of flexible ductwork is its lower cost, both in terms of materials and installation. If you're building a new home, the cost difference may be relatively minuscule compared to your overall budget, but it can have a much more significant impact on retrofits. In these cases, you're probably looking to minimize your costs as much as possible. At the lower end of the scale, you may pay more than twice as much per linear foot to install rigid aluminum ductwork, with costs increasing depending on complexity and installation difficulty. Since a typical home may need more than 100 linear feet of ductwork, these costs can add up quickly and cause your total retrofit price to skyrocket.
2. More Flexibility
Unsurprisingly, flex ducts offer greater flexibility. While these ducts are literally more flexible than rigid alternatives, they also provide more installation options. One of the most significant challenges with any retrofit is finding space to install ductwork. In homes without a straightforward attic or basement access point, installers may need to modify existing ceilings or build ductwork channels in closets. Flexible ductwork can fit in more locations and takes up more space, providing more options. This flexibility means lower installation costs, but it may also allow your HVAC system to reach parts of your home that would be challenging or impossible with rigid ductwork.
3. Equivalent Performance
As with most HVAC components, the performance of flexible ductwork ultimately comes down to installation. A qualified and experienced installer will install flex duct in your home without significant kinks or bends, allowing it to achieve performance similar to rigid ductwork. As a result, you'll spend less on a product that performs as well as a higher-end alternative.
While rigid ducts may still be more durable over the long run, these differences are relatively minor. The added costs and disruption of retrofitting rigid ducts into an older home may quickly offset these advantages. If you're planning on retrofitting an AC system into your older home, leave your preconceptions about flex duct behind, and discuss this cost-effective option with your installer.
For more information on air conditioning installation, contact an HVAC contractor in your area.