How to Locate HVAC Dampers in Ductwork?

If your HVAC system features manual dampers, you would have to, at one point, locate these components, as they have to be adjusted with the change of seasons. 

Find your HVAC system’s main trunk line and look for the dampers right before or after any major junctions – manual dampers have a metal lever on the ductwork. In case you have an upper floor, the damper would typically be installed in the supply duct that leads to the upstairs.

How to Locate HVAC Dampers in Ductwork?

In the majority of cases, HVAC dampers are located in the main trunk line, after or before the major junctions

The main trunk line often runs the length of the house and it features dozens of small feeder ducts. If your house has a basement, then the chances are high that the main line is located there (otherwise, it’s usually in the attic). 

In case you have multiple system ducts, the dampers will most likely be located on every main line about 90 degrees apart.

Read: Why HVAC Zone Damper Not Working? Troubleshooting Guide

How Do I Find My Air Duct Dampers?

Every house is different and where exactly your dampers are located would depend on the type of HVAC system that you have and your home’s layout. 

If you have a second floor, you will usually find a damper in the supply duct that is traveling to the upstairs. Some homes might have a damper in every run – such an option would be ideal for ai balancing.

Read: Honeywell Humidifier Damper Position On Winter/Summer

Where Should Ductwork Damper Be Installed?

Unlike HVAC registers and vents that are located between the room and the ductwork, dampers should be installed close to the main trunk line for the best efficiency. The blades on the registers are able to control the airflow at the outlet, while the dampers would be controlling the air at the ‘beginning’ of the ductwork.

Ideally, you would want to invite an HVAC technician to determine the best location for the dampers. However, the components are usually installed right after or before any major junctions that the ductwork makes. 

If you have a second floor, you might want to install the damper at the very beginning of the upstairs line. 

Read: What Are 4 Basic Categories Of HVAC Systems?

How Do I Find Dampers in My Attic?

In the attic, follow the main duct from the furnace. The damper would usually be located where the main duct branches off to the different rooms or where the main trunk connects to the round supply duct that then travels to the rest of the house. 

Each damper is typically controlled with a metal lever or a small rod. Once you find one of these elements, it means that the damper is right underneath it, inside the ductwork.

Where Are the Dampers in Flexible Ductwork?

Some houses might have flexible ductwork in their attic. Do bear in mind not all buildings have dampers and your flexible ductwork might simply not have these components at all.

In case there are dampers, they will usually be located below the ‘collars’. These collars are round rings to which the flexible duct gets attached. 

Read: What Are Zoned HVAC System Problems?

How Do I Know If My HVAC Has Dampers?

  • If you have exposed ductwork, simply examine all of the runs – you might find the dampers that you’re looking for
  • Look for metal levers on the main supply trunk (you might need a flashlight as the levers are usually the same color as the ducts)
  • Some older homes may have a damper that looks like a clamp that’s attached to the duct with a screw
  • If you have a multi-zone HVAC system, then you most likely have dampers in the ductwork

How Do You Check for Dampers?

If you can’t find any obvious signs of a damper being present in the ductwork, you can simply turn your HVAC system on and adjust the settings.

Open all the registers in the house and then tell the system to cool or heat a single zone. If your unit is able to do that, then it definitely has dampers. 

How Many Dampers on HVAC?

In many cases, dampers are installed in every piece of ductwork that leads to a certain room or zone. In ductless systems, dampers can be installed right at the air outlet.

Do bear in mind that there are also zones served by multiple dampers, so the exact number of dampers in your specific case would depend on the HVAC system and the zone layout. 

Read: How To Heat An Apartment Efficiently?

FAQs

What Do Furnace Dampers Look Like?

Before attempting to locate the dampers, you should at least have an idea of what you’re looking for, right?

There are quite a few different types of dampers, but a lot of them are plate-like components that basically operate like a valve. In a lot of cases, dampers look like a piece of metal.

From the ‘outside’, manual dampers usually have a metal lever or a wing nut. 

Do All Air Ducts Have Dampers?

Some buildings will have no dampers at all. So, you might end up having air ducts without these components.

If your HVAC system does have dampers, the elements would usually be located in every supply duct to be able to effectively control the airflow. 

Do All Furnaces Have Dampers?

The majority of modern furnaces have at least four dampers and all of them serve different functions.

  1. The pressure control damper controls the pressure differential in the system
  2. The flow control damper is the element that the homeowners can use to adjust the airflow
  3. The check damper is responsible for preventing the reversal of the flow
  4. The balancing damper is there to establish a baseline for pressure or airflow

There are also the so-called ‘shut-off’ or ‘isolation’ dampers that can fully stop the airflow. 

Do All Houses Have Dampers?

A lot of houses with a single-stage HVAC system without zoning will not have dampers. However, if you have a two-story home, the chances are high that your system does have dampers that help control the airflow upstairs. 

How Do I Find an Upstairs Damper?

The upstairs damper is typically located in the supply duct that leads to the second floor.

Are HVAC Dampers Necessary?

If you’re planning on investing in a zoning HVAC system, then dampers are necessary elements that are going to help regulate the airflow in the different zones. 

Can I Add Dampers to Existing Ductwork?

You can add dampers to existing ductwork, but there are a lot of things that have to be taken into consideration. For example, if your blower can operate only at 100% capacity, it is not recommended to install dampers as the excess airflow can damage the system. 

How Often Should Ductwork Be Replaced?

Ductwork has a maximum lifespan of 25 years, but you should consider replacing it every 15 years or so. 

The dampers would usually have to be replaced together with the ductwork. If you have managed to take great care of the system, these elements are going to have the same lifespan as the actual ducts. 

Does a Gas Furnace Need a Damper?

Furnace dampers serve a wide range of purposes – some allow you to control the pressure or airflow in the system, while others can completely stop the flow of air. 

There are also barometric dampers that are installed into the flue (between the chimney and the heating appliance) to control the draft.