If you are in the process of shopping for a heat pump, you may be wondering if you can use your existing ductwork with a new heat pump system? It is a very good question and one I shall answer in this article.

Even if you have a central forced air system in your house, a heat pump system may still be used! A heat pump system would still work in this case since the outdoor condenser unit would be the same. The only potential issue is that your ducts may not be sized correctly for a heat pump system – but the team that will be installing your heat pump can help you determine if this is the case.

If your ducts need to be resized, it’s usually a fairly simple and straightforward process. So even if you have an existing ductwork system, you can still take advantage of the benefits of a heat pump!

Why Do Heat Pumps Need to be Ducted?

Heat pumps need to be ducted because they rely on a refrigerant to transfer heat. The refrigerant is what makes the heat pump system more efficient than other heating methods, like electric resistance heating.

Related: Is Your Heat Pump Short Cycling?

What Size Is Heat Pump Ducting?

Ducting comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s possible to buy rectangular ducting in the range of 3″ x 7″ up to 35″ x 40,” while round ducting may be as small as 4″ and as large as 41″.

The heat registers and return grilles are available in different sizes dependent on the size of the duct.

Related: Can Heat Pumps Be Installed In Old Houses? THE TRUTH

What Are the Different Types of Heat Pump Ducting?

There are two types of ductwork used in homes:

  • Flexible ducting
  • Rigid ducting

Flexible ducting

Flexible ducting is made of a plastic material that is wrapped in metal foil. This type of ducting is easier to install but is not as durable as rigid ducting. It is normally connected to a hose or tube and is used to connect the heat pump to the registers or grilles.

There is a choice of insulated or uninsulated flexible ducting. The insulated type is used where there is a possibility of condensation forming on the outside of the ducting, such as in an attic or crawl space.

Rigid ducting

Rigid ducting is made of metal, such as aluminum or galvanized steel. It is more durable than flexible ducting but is more difficult to install.

Commonly used with Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems, it can also be used to connect the heat pump to registers or grilles.

As with flexible ducting, there is a choice of insulated or uninsulated rigid ducting. The insulated type should be used where there is a possibility of condensation forming on the outside of the ducting, such as in an attic or crawl space.

What About a Ductless System?

A ductless heat pump also called a ductless mini-split, is a type of heat pump that does not require ductwork. Ductless mini-splits are very popular in Europe and Asia, and they are gaining popularity in the United States.

Ductless mini-splits have many benefits, but one of the biggest is that they are very efficient. In fact, they are so efficient that they can actually save you money on your energy bills!

Another benefit of ductless mini-splits is that they are very easy to install. In most cases, you can install a ductless mini-split in just a few hours. And because they don’t require any ductwork, you won’t have to worry about any potential ductwork issues.

Duct Cleaning Before Installation

If you are looking to use existing ductwork in your home, it is important to make sure that the ducts are clean.

Over time, dust and dirt can build up in the ducts, which can reduce the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

There are a few different ways to clean your ducts, but one of the easiest is to hire a professional duct cleaning company.

Duct cleaning companies have the tools and experience to clean your ducts quickly and efficiently.

Hiring a professional to clean your ducts is the best way to ensure that they are clean and that your heating and cooling system is running at peak efficiency.

If you decide to clean your ducts yourself, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you should only use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to avoid blowing dust and dirt into the air.

Second, you should wear gloves and a mask to avoid getting dust and dirt on your skin. Finally, you should make sure that the area around the ducts is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling dust and dirt particles.


Can you use the same ducts for heating and cooling?

Yes, you can use the same ducts for both heating and cooling. However, it is important to make sure that the ducts are clean and in good repair before using them.

What is a concealed duct heat pump?

Concealed duct units are well-hidden, with only the grille covers visible. Concealed units can offer even coverage in huge rooms by utilizing short duct runs to send air through multiple outlets and may even provide comfort to an adjacent, smaller room by using their own more efficient ducts.

Do you need heat recovery with a heat pump?

No, a heat recovery ventilation system is only used to manage the ventilation of the structure, delivering fresh air while removing stale air and steam. The building will be heated/cooled using a heat pump.

Can geothermal be used with forced air?

The majority of the time, geothermal systems are utilized to distribute forced air heating and cooling to a home. The warm or cold air is delivered via conventional ducting throughout the house.

Related: What is a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner?

How do you insulate around ceiling ductwork?

Use a foil, faced fiberglass insulation with an R-6 or higher R-value to insulate HVAC ductwork. Use the type of metallic foil duct tape specified by the insulating manufacturer to seal and hold the insulation in place. Before using the tape, make sure that the foil surface of the insulation is dust-free.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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