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A Mechanical Contractor's Guide to Ductwork in Commercial and Industrial Settings

Hello, mechanical contractors! In our line of work, ductwork is a fundamental aspect of HVAC systems in commercial and industrial environments. Let's check into the types of ductwork we frequently encounter, focusing primarily on sheet metal ducts while touching briefly on alternative materials.


The Dominance of Sheet Metal Ducts


Sheet metal ducts are the backbone of most HVAC systems. Fabricated mainly from galvanized steel, carbon steel, or aluminum, these ducts offer durability and high resistance to heat. They are highly customizable, allowing us to tailor them to various sizes and shapes as per project requirements. Their rigidity and strength make them ideal for handling high air pressures and temperatures, which is why they are predominantly used in industrial settings and large commercial buildings.


Fiberglass Lined Ducts: Enhanced Performance


While our focus remains on sheet metal, it's worth noting the utility of fiberglass lined ducts. These are essentially metal ducts lined with fiberglass to improve thermal insulation and sound absorption. Ideal for office buildings and educational institutions, they provide a quieter and more energy-efficient alternative without straying too far from the conventional sheet metal approach. We’ve been making a lot of stainless steel and fiberglass ductwork for external use here at Greater Wisconsin Sheet Metal. The insulation properties of the fiberglass coupled with the all-weather nature of stainless steel makes this combination very attractive for commercial and industrial applications.


Flexible Ducts: The Supplemental Choice

In instances where rigid ductwork presents installation challenges, flexible ducts come into play. Comprised of a wire coil covered by flexible material, they are excellent for making connections in tight spaces or as branches from the main ductwork system. However, their application is supplementary and should be used judiciously to maintain system efficiency.


Spiral Ducts: Combining Aesthetics with Functionality


Spiral ducts, a variation of sheet metal ducts, deserve more than a mere mention for their aesthetic and functional benefits. Their spiral design enhances strength and reduces air leakage, making them a valuable choice in exposed installations where appearance is a consideration, such as in trendy commercial spaces. These straight spirals can be made in custom lengths and provide a cost effective and visually appealing solution for long runs with multiple sizes reducing the size as you move away from the fan.


Other Ductwork Materials: A Brief Overview

While our primary focus is on metal ductwork, it's important to acknowledge other materials like fabric and phenolic ducts. These materials are chosen for specific applications—fabric ducts for even air distribution in spaces like gyms, and phenolic ducts for lightweight and moisture-resistant requirements. However, their usage is more specialized compared to the versatility of sheet metal ducts.


At the end of the run…

As mechanical contractors, our expertise lies in selecting the right type of ductwork for each project. Sheet metal ducts are often our first choice due to their versatility, durability, and adaptability. Understanding the nuances of different duct types, including fiberglass lined, flexible, and spiral ducts, allows us to optimize HVAC systems for performance, efficiency, and aesthetic integration in commercial and industrial buildings.


Looking to source some ductwork?

Greater Wisconsin Sheet Metal will help you by designing, fabricating, and delivering your ductwork on-time and within budget.


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