Church saves $100,000 on HVAC ventilation metal duct replacement

The perpetual showering of corrosion and paint flakes from a church recreation center’s HVAC metal duct was an ongoing maintenance annoyance. However, the real challenge for Park Hill Baptist Church was the $100,000-plus price tag to replace the system. This is where FabricAir, a global fabric-based air distribution manufacturer, appeared with a solution that would both create an exquisite indoor environment and solve the costs issue.

After several unsuccessful recoating attempts, replacing the Christian Activities Center’s (CAC) duct was the only logical solution. The gray coated 66-centimeter (26 inch) diameter, double-wall spiral duct had become a dented, dirty, flaking eyesore for the North Little Rock, Ark.-based, 1,500-member church. Besides improved aesthetics and reduced maintenance, replacement also promised enhanced indoor air quality, temperature, and comfort.

Replacement with metal duct would also require a lengthy weeks-long downtime for the former gymnasium that was recently converted to a busy multi-use space. Stripping years of unsuccessful re-coats, priming, and applying another coating was a less expensive alternative, but would have required longer downtimes than new metal duct replacement.

“We were always disappointed with the CAC’s metal duct performance,” said Jeff Carson, Facility Manager, who came to the church in 1998. “After witnessing the improved temperature uniformity and the great look of fabric duct at newer nearby gyms and churches, we were sold on the concept.”

While a metal duct replacement would have required an outside contractor, Carson and his three-man maintenance staff undertook the metal duct demo and fabric duct installation themselves. “All we needed was a scissors lift rental because we felt we could install the fabric duct ourselves,” said Carson. The 70 cm (28 inch) diameter Combi 70 black fabric duct was custom manufactured, shipped and the installation required only a few hours of sliding its clips into the H-track suspension system and zippering lengths together.

The fabric air dispersion was designed as two straight 22 meters (72 feet) long runs through the center of the CAC. Instead of metal registers every 3,5 meters (12 feet), approximately 85% of the airflow is dispersed through linear arrays with approximately two-inch-diameter orifices positioned at 4, 5, 7, and 8-o’clock on the entire length of each duct. Instead of large volumes of air from single metal duct registers, the linear orifices disperse the same air volume, but in even, uniform patterns. Dust and condensation accumulation is prevented by the remaining 15% of the air that flows through the fabric’s factory-engineered permeability.

The two fabric runs were connected to the original metal supply takeoffs of the existing Coleman and Trane 20-ton packaged rooftop units. Factory engineering designed two 45-degree fabric elbow offsets to circumvent obstacles. The facility’s two original return grills mounted near the ceiling continue to provide recirculation to the rooftop units. The church saved upwards of $100,000 on its duct retrofit and is also experiencing improved environmental conditions for its occupants and its maple hardwood floor.

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