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# Air Handling Systems

## 80-1-ISD Condensation Control on Air Conditioning Ducts

Condensation of water vapor can occur on ducts going through any location if the dew point temperature of the
ambient air is higher than the operating temperature of the HVAC system. Although this situation could be present in
ducts in any location, particular attention should be given to ducts exposed to outside or unconditioned air, such as
ducts in attics and crawl spaces.
For ducts in conditioned spaces, it is normal HVAC design to maintain a conditioned ambient temperature of 75F and
relative humidity of 50% or below with a supply air or operating temperature in the range of 55F to 60F, thus reducing
by design the need for duct insulation since the dew point temperature of the conditioned space would be equal or
less than 55F.
Under actual conditions, variations in the rate of ventilation, number of people and equipment, could increase the dew
point temperature of the conditioned space above the operating temperature. A typical example would be in a building
with supply ducts going through return air plenums where usage of the conditioned space has been changed to
conference areas instead of regular office work.
Attached are condensation parameters and the calculation procedure to determine the required insulation needed to
prevent condensation.
Also attached is a table from which the ambient dew point temperature can be obtained knowing the dry bulb temperature and relative humidity. The dew point temperature below the line indicates condensation is likely to occur.

Condensation Parameters
1.

2.

a.
b.
c.

3.

Duct location.

## dry bulb temperature

relative humidity
dew point temperature

(TDP - TOP)

tk = kRs

tk

## Insulation thickness (in)

Thermal conductivity

R S

TDP

TOP

## Ambient dry bulb temperature (F)

Btuin
[(hrft
F)]
(hrft F)
Surface temperature resistance [
Btu ]
2

TOP

RS

## 1.32 (hrft F) (reflective surface, still air)

2

Btu

By setting tk = 0 and solving the equation for TOP , it has been determined that the minimum condition for which insulation would be required is when TOP is equal to the dew point temperature. Therefore, at standard barometric pressure
and normal cooling operating conditions, insulation would be required when TDP 55F.

Example
For those conditions where the operating temperature is less than or equal to the dew point temperature, the required
insulation can be calculated as follows:
Vapor
Barrier

Surface

Air Flow
Sheet Metal Duct
Microlite XG (Type 75)

(TDP - TOP)
tk = kRS

= (0.29) (1.32)
= 0.15 inches

(62-55)
(80-62)

Assumptions
=

80F

Relative
Humidity =

55%

TDP

TOP

55F

## 0.29 Microlite XG (Type 75)

RS

1.32

(hrft2F)
Btu

The results show that 0.15 inches of insulation is required in order to avoid condensation. Although this is not very
thick, the point is that without any insulation, this duct will sweat and cause problems, e.g. stained ceilings and wet
floors.
Since water vapor would be free to penetrate fiber glass insulation, a vapor barrier is required in order to prevent
condensation within the insulation and possible damage to the product.
Heating Season
Condensation during the heating season is rare but can occur inside the duct where solar energy is used for heating
or in return ducts going through unconditioned spaces. Also, in dry climates where humidifiers are used in the supply
air, condensation can occur if the duct is exposed to the outside air.

## North American Sales Offices,

Insulation Systems

Eastern Region
P.O. Box 158
Defiance, OH 43512
(800) 334-2399
Fax: (419) 784-7866

Denver, CO 80202
(800) 654-3103
specJM.com

## 80-1-ISD 10-08 (Replaces 2-07)

P.O. Box 5108
Denver, CO 80217
(800) 368-4431
Fax: (303) 978-4661

## The physical and chemical properties of the Air Handling Products

represent typical, average values obtained in accordance with
accepted test methods and are subject to normal manufacturing
variations. They are supplied as a technical service and are
subject to change without notice. Numerical flame spread and
smoke developed ratings are not intended to reflect hazards
presented by these or any other materials under actual fire
conditions. Check with the Regional Sales Office nearest you
to assure current information. All Johns Manville products are
sold subject to Johns Manvilles standard Terms and Conditions
including Limited Warranty and Limitation of Remedy. For a copy
of the Johns Manville standard Terms and Conditions, Limited
Warranty and Limitation of Remedy, and information on other
Johns Manville thermal insulations and systems, call
(800) 654-3103.

## Printed on recycled paper.

Printed in USA

40

30
34
38
41
45
48
52

95
100
105
110
115
120
125

63

60

56

52

48

44

32

29

25

21

18

36

13

70

27

10

65

14

11

23

60

90

55

85

-1

50

17

-4

45

-5

20

-7

40

75

-12

35

72

68

64

60

56

52

48

44

40

35

32

28

24

20

16

13

-3

-8

-15
-9

-11

-16

-20

-25

20

-16

-21

80

-20

-24

20
-15

-28

15
25

-31

30

-30

-35

5
10

-25

15

Dry-bulb
temp. F 10

78

74

70

66

62

58

54

49

45

41

37

33

28

25

21

17

13

-4

-8

-12

-16

-21

25

84

79

75

71

67

63

59

54

50

46

42

37

33

29

25

21

17

14

-4

-8

-13

-17

30

35

89

85

80

77

72

68

63

58

54

50

46

41

38

32

28

24

20

16

12

-2

-5

-10

93

88

84

80

76

71

67

62

58

54

49

45

40

35

97

92

88

84

79

75

70

66

61

57

52

48

43

39

34

30

32

25

27

22

18

13

-1

-5

-10

45

23

19

15

11

-3

-7

-12

40

100

96

91

87

82

78

73

69

64

60

55

50

46

42

37

32

28

24

20

15

10

-3

-8

50

104

99

94

90

85

81

76

72

67

62

57

53

49

44

39

34

30

26

22

17

12

-2

-6

55

107

102

97

92

88

84

79

74

69

65

60

55

51

46

41

37

32

28

24

20

15

10

-5

60

109

105

100

95

90

86

82

77

72

111

107

102

98

93

88

84

79

74

69

64

62
67

60

55

50

45

41

36

31

27

23

18

13

-2

70

57

53

48

43

39

34

29

26

22

16

11

-4

65

114

109

105

100

95

91

86

81

76

72

66

62

57

52

47

42

38

33

28

24

19

14

-1

75

117

112

107

102

97

92

88

83

78

74

69

64

59

54

49

44

39

35

30

25

20

15

10

80

119

114

109

104

99

94

90

85

80

75

70

65

60

55

50

45

41

36

32

27

21

16

12

85

121

116

111

106

101

96

91

87

82

77

72

67

62

57

52

47

43

38

33

28

23

18

13

90

123

118

113

108

103

98

93

89

83

78

74

68

63

59

53

49

44

39

34

29

24

19

14

95

Percent relative humidity

-14

125

120

115

110

105

100

95

90

85

80

75

70

65

60

55

50

45

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

100