Air Return Duct

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by seeker, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. seeker

    seeker New Member

    Messages:
    12
    My first floor air return duct (forced hot air system) has no metal duct work.
    The return vents (3) flow in ceiling thru duct system made of wood. Is this normal?
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I understand that this practice used to be common, and is not allowed by code anymore. If you do any remodel/rework of the system they may make you bring it up to code.
  3. seeker

    seeker New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Thanks...I'm a little surprised as this is a new home in NJ. The house is very well built, has Trane units, all inspections were done.
  4. Hube

    Hube New Member

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Ontario
    Seeker; The majority of areas in North America still allow RETURNS to be of wood passages like studs, joists, etc.
    Imo there is nothing wrong with this as it presents no hazard to the air system and if it is installed properly (fairly air tight) then it will work just fine..
  5. seeker

    seeker New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Thanks...I just spoke to the builder and he told me everything was up to code and they do this all the time. It actually allows more air flow which he said was easily handled by the units I have.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,888
    Location:
    New England
    The 'danger' of a wooden return is if there is a fire and it penetrates into that area. If the blower is still running, the induced draft will fan the fire and blow smoke throughout the house as it is circulated. Course, the returns could draw smoke from the rooms around the house and do the same thing, but returns are often at the floor level, and smoke tends to rise, so that is minimized. I think they do make smoke detectors for the air handling system that can shut it down if it senses a fire that would stop that from happening, but not sure how many residential units have them, if any.
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