Should You Install Air Conditioner Ducts in Attic?

Should You Install Air Conditioner Ducts in Attic?

The team of K&S Heating and Air, has been serving the HVAC industry for decades. Our portfolio of works includes, maintenance and repair of HVAC units and successfully overseeing the projects, involving air conditioner installation in Frisco, TX. Leveraging this vast experience, today, we aim to answer a question that our customers frequently ask, when consulting us on the topic of HVAC installation. Should we install air conditioner ducts in attic spaces? What if our attic isn’t conditioned?

First, let’s understand what an unconditioned attic is.

What is Unconditioned Attic?

Unconditioned attic is a space that lies outside the envelope of insulation in a building. In non-technical terms, it is unequipped with proper insulation practices. Hence, in summers, it is hot and in winters, an unconditioned attic is colder than the rest of the spaces of the building.

So, coming back to the question,

Should you install HVAC ducts in your unconditioned attic?

The answer is a “NO”.

What Happens When You Install HVAC Ducts in an Unconditioned Attic?

To explain the reason behind our answer, let’s revise the fundamental concepts of elementary school physics.

Body A and Body B, are two fluids, having different temperature. Body A is at temperature T1. Body B is at temperature T2. When the two bodies are placed in contact with each other, there is heat transfer between the two. Heat flows from higher temperature to lower temperature, and this transfer stops, once both the fluids acquire a uniform temperature. That is, T1 becomes equal to T2.

This serves as a perfect platform to extend our understanding about the operation of HVAC ducts, when they are deployed in an unconditioned attic.

In Summers

In summer, as mentioned earlier, attic is unpleasantly hot. While, your HVAC ducts are carrying air that is at a lower temperature as compared to the ambient temperature of the attic. It has been estimated, that this temperature difference could rise as high as 70°F to 100°F. Because of this temperature difference, heat transfer takes place. The air being carried in the ducts tend to get warmer, hence, the working efficiency of heating and air conditioning unit decreases.

If, you have set the thermostat at 60°F, the air being supplied through the ducts would be much warmer.

In Winters

In winter, the situation gets reversed but the end result is same. Your unconditioned attic is at a lower temperature as compared to the temperature of the air being circulated by your HVAC unit. This means, there will be energy losses, as heat transfer takes place between the warmer ducts and the cooler attic. Again, the working efficiency of the HVAC unit decreases.

If, you have set the thermostat at 80°F, your indoors won’t exactly be recording a temperature of 80°F.

The Practice of Installing HVAC Duct in Unconditioned Attic is Common

As far as the trend is concerned, residential HVAC contractors routinely install HVAC ducts in unconditioned attic, while  executing air conditioner installation in Frisco, TX. This begs the question:

Why this practice is so common?

This is because, many times, HVAC contractors come across different restraints, which force them to adopt this otherwise non-recommended installation practice. These restraints are:

  • Some residential units in Frisco, TX do not have a basement or a storage space, where contractors can conveniently install the duct work. In these types of constructions, attic is their only option.
  • Deploying duct work in unconditioned attic while performing air conditioner installation in Frisco, TX, makes the future maintenance works easier to execute. Moreover, if homeowners wish to modify the existing duct work, they can do it more easily if the ducts are installed in the attic.
  • Installation of HVAC units can be costly. Some homeowners, only have a limited budget. As such, attic based installation is economically feasible, rather than trying to run the duct work through walls and floors. The latter option requires higher expense budgets.

What Should You Do?

The acquired knowledge dictates that attic based deployment of HVAC ducts should be avoided when executing an air conditioner installation in Frisco,TX.

Yes, the attic based installation offers benefits such as easy maintenance and modification; it is a deployment configuration that also carries many disadvantages. Your HVAC unit’s working efficiency, is reduced, your utility expenses increases and the life of your HVAC system gets significantly reduced due to increased work load.

However, if it is the only option that you are left with because of the restraints discussed above, then the best possible solution is to insulate your unconditioned attic. You can use spray foam insulation or a radiant barrier to insulate your attic. This minimizes the energy losses that otherwise takes place in an unconditioned attic.

What if your existing ductwork is installed in your unconditioned attic?

For that, you first need to hire an experienced local company that provides reliable air conditioner installation in Frisco, TX. At K&S Heating and Air, we have decades of experience of successfully handling HVAC installation projects. Our representative technician will visit your home, inspect the site and will design an integrated retrofit duct work system for your home. All possible budget fit alternatives will be communicated with you and depending on the solution that best suits the application, the project will be completed with timeliness and high levels of satisfaction.

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