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There is a metal plate on the top of my basement's celing.

It is attached to the HVAC ducts, but doesn't appear to be a duct itself.

I'm interested in using the stud it is attached to hang an LED strip light that requires stud access.

Can I drill a pilot hole through the sheet metal to attach it to the joist? What is the purpose of the sheet metal? Plate Plate 2

  • it's probably 1/4th of a duct... – dandavis Jul 10 at 20:55
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This appears that they used the channel between studs as a return air duct. Look at the duct that attaches to it and see if it is also a return air duct or if it goes to the return side of the air handler.

That said, drilling a small hole to hang something should be fine. Make sure you drill as close to the center of the stud as you can - you don't want a random hole in the return air duct if you can avoid it. If you have some kind of hole-drilling accident, a piece of aluminum duct tape or duct sealant should fix it.

  • Is it a good thing that they used the joists as a return air duct? The upper story actually increases in temperature during days when the house is in full sunlight during the summer. Thanks for the answer! :) – Sarah Szabo Jul 10 at 21:13
  • I used the same system years ago ; galvanized metal duct between joists . I used it to bring outside air in to the gas furnace in the basement. – blacksmith37 Jul 10 at 21:39
  • I think it’s pretty standard, but we don’t have basements where I live so I’m not sure exactly. I have seen return air running through floor joists and wall cavities in two story houses. The idea is that since the air is room temperature, you don’t need the insulation or sealing that a duct gives you. – JPhi1618 Jul 10 at 22:35

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