“Should I Insulate the Ductwork in My Basement?” Jen in Roseville, CA Asks an HVAC Expert

should i insulate ductwork in basementJen in Roseville, CA is one of the folks in our area who’s fortunate enough to have a basement, and she has a question about the ductwork down there. Jen asks:

“I’m actually lucky enough to have a basement in my Roseville home. It’s really nice. We have a ping-pong table down there, some couches, and a small refrigerator so that when my kids get hungry or thirsty, they don’t have to come all the way up the stairs for a snack.

Recently, however, I was talking about my heating and cooling bills with one of my neighbors, and we found out that mine is quite a bit higher than everyone else’s on the block, even homes of comparable sizes. One theory that has been suggested by my neighbors is that maybe this increased utility cost is connected to the ductwork in my basement, which, as far as I know, is not insulated. So, that’s my question… Should I insulate the ductwork in my basement? And if so, any tips on the best way to go about doing that? Thanks! – Jen.”

First of all, congrats on having a basement! I spend a lot of time as a heating and cooling service expert in different houses throughout Roseville and the rest of Northern California, and so I know how nice having one can be, for the most part. I’ve always sort of wanted one myself. Anyway, your friends and neighbors are right to suggest that the problem here may be your basement. So, let’s start off by talking about whether or not you should insulate the ductwork in your basement.

Should I Insulate the Ductwork in My Basement? A Homeowner FAQ

The answer to the question of, “Should I insulate the ductwork in my basement?” is…. Maybe. While insulating basement ductwork will, in fact, reduce energy loss from your ducts, thereby lowering the time your system has to run to properly cool or heat your house, it will also tend to make your basement cooler. Now, that may be a good thing during the hot summers in Sacramento, so in the end you may even see this side effect as a bonus.

…insulating ductwork can be a great way to offset energy price increases from SMUD.

I know that I personally would make the choice to insulate my basement ductwork without hesitation. I’ve talked about this in the past, but insulating ductwork can be a great way to offset energy price increases from SMUD. A few degrees of temperature drop in the basement may be worthwhile to you to save more than a few bucks on your utility costs. It doesn’t sound like Jen’s family would mind all that much, as they seem to use their basement as a bit of a recreation room, but it is, of course, a question that has to be answered individually.

Why the Question of Whether or Not to Insulate the Ductwork in a Basement Matters

“Should I insulate the ductwork in my basement?” is a question that you can also extend to the rest of your house, like asking if you should make sure you have ductwork properly insulated in your attic, too. This sort of attic insulation is especially valuable in hot Sacramento summersinsulating basement ducts

The reason that insulating ductwork matters so much is that it’s a prime area where heating and cooling inefficiencies tend to crop up. Basically, ductwork inefficiencies fall into two main categories:

  1. Airflow restrictions: Exactly what they sound like, airflow restrictions tell you that something in your ducts is preventing air from moving freely, meaning the AC or furnace has to be on longer to change the temperature of your home, raising your utility bills.
  2. Thermal losses: Thermal losses have more to do with temperature. When this is occurring, the air in the ducts has become so hot that cool air created by the AC is being warmed, or vice versa. As with the airflow restrictions, this means your HVAC system has to run longer to get the proper amount of cool air into rooms.

The common point here is: both will raise your power bill—and cost you money.

How to Insulate the Ductwork in Your Basement

Simply put, the best thing to do once you’ve decided that you should insulate ductwork in your basement is to contact a trained insulation installation professional. Not to diminish anyone’s DIY skills here, but this is really one of those home repair jobs that’s best left to the trained technicians. The reason is that doing this work yourself can leave you open to leaks.

By hiring a trained professional, you’ll ensure that the job is done right, the first time.

By hiring a trained professional, you’ll ensure that the job is done right, the first time. There will be no questions whatsoever about whether the insulation has been properly sealed, so you can then go ahead and rest assured that your basement ductwork is not costing you any more money on your utility bills than it has to.

I hope that answers Jen’s questions, as well as anyone else who has a similar inquiry. Ductwork insulation is an important topic, one that every last homeowner in Northern California would do well to learn more about, especially if utility costs continue rising. When it does come time to hire a professional to do the work, I highly recommend contacting Bell Brothers.

Bell Brothers has years of experience working with ductwork insulation. We can help you by answering any and all questions you may have in advance. We not only work here in Sacramento, but we also live here. Just like Jen’s neighbors, we take special pride in helping you save money on your heating and cooling costs.

Contact the plumbing professionals at Bell Brothers to learn more about your new tankless hot water, or to talk about upgrading to one in your home. We’ll offer recommendations that are sure to increase your year-round efficiency—and decrease your water bills.

Wondering how to finance a new HVAC system, windows, or plumbing project? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.

Image courtesy Artazum LLC