To make a cold air return duct in my wall, can I simply use the studs and drywall to create the duct or do I have to use sheet metal also?

  • Good question. I'd like to know what's involved as well; if a setup like this can be made to work, I can add a second return from the second floor down through a central wall into the return box to help return warm air from an A/C in the summer.
    – KeithS
    Mar 5, 2012 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


Panning seems to be allowed for return ducts only. I'm not sure if it is code compliant for all states, but it is allowed in the northeastern US. My house has one area that is "panned" in such a maner on the return duct. It is not lined inside, just normal 2x construction. The outside is panned with sheet metal.

This is an alternative to the sheet metal.

  • 1
    1+ Nice link. I don't know anything (think of Sgt Schultz) but I like the idea of something designed for air handling to handle air. The idiot that did my house had the return air go into a framed box...lined with insulation. Also the condensation drained into it. Onto the concrete. Flooded a room before I could figure it out. I still have the generals ear hanging on a necklace.
    – lqlarry
    Mar 6, 2012 at 23:58
  • @Iqlarry- yeah we hope that the builders do it right, Not always the case although:)
    – SteveR
    Mar 7, 2012 at 0:13

According to my city building inspector (in Utah) dry wall is fine for the cold air return only. The only time you might pan the area for a cold air return is when you have an open wall that is left unfinished.

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