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Why You Should Clean Your Air Ducts

If you’re a homeowner, it might be easy to forget to take care of your air ducts. However, you should make an effort to make it a part of your regular home maintenance. Keep in mind that air duct cleaning is still in its early stages, so it is difficult to pinpoint when exactly to clean your ducts. For these systems, it is best to consult a professional before jumping into the cleaning practice. Regardless, here are some tips to help you get your bearings in the process.

Before you begin, you should note that duct cleaning has not actually been proven to prevent health issues. No study has conclusively demonstrated that a home’s internal particle levels increase due to dirty air ducts. Much of the dirt and dust adheres to the system’s surfaces and isn’t guaranteed to enter any particular living space. Pollutants from cooking, smoking, cleaning and moving from outdoors to inside may cause greater exposure to harmful contaminants than your home’s air ducts. Additionally, there is not legitimate evidence that suggests that light household dust poses any health risk. That being said, keeping clean ducts as a potential preventative measure couldn’t hurt.

What Exactly is Air Duct Cleaning?

In general, duct cleaning involves the cleaning of the components of forced air systems. This extends to both heating and cooling elements. Possible parts can be:

  • Heat exchangers
  • Cooling/heating coils
  • Fan motors
  • Air handling unit housing
  • Condensate drain pans or drip pans
  • Grillers
  • Diffusers
  • Supply/return ducts and registers

Your chosen service provider will use tools to dislodge debris and dirt and then vacuum away the particles. He or she may want to apply chemical biocides or other chemical treatments to combat microbiological contaminants.

Air Duct Cleaning Benefits

There is no evidence to suggest that clean ducts leads to better overall health. However, it should be noted that some homeowners report feeling less congested or stuffy. Other individuals have also stated that their homes smelled better and there was visibly less dust within the household. Regular maintenance will help elongate the life of the system as service providers can make repairs to leaks and catch any mold growth early on. It might also be a good idea to check for excessive moisture as this can lead to other air system problems.

Air Duct Health Concerns

There are four major reasons to clean your ducts:

  • Vermin infestation prevention (insects or rodents)
  • Preventing clogging due to dust or debris
  • Avoiding substantial mold growth
  • Regular maintenance practice

Much of your heating and cooling system is probably inaccessible for visual examination, so you may need to consult a professional for a proper inspection. Insulated ducts are at risk for moisture and mold and will need to be replaced if the insulating material has been compromised. If you have mold, you must take care to fix the conditions that allowed for mold growth or the problem will reoccur.

Frequency of Air Duct Cleanings

Because your HVAC system is integral to your home’s overall health and functionality, you should call and consult with a professional on a yearly basis. Depending on your household’s conditions, you may need to perform maintenance with more or less regularity. Take into account your home’s age, air quality, climate and type of HVAC system. Be sure to share this information with your service provider. This annual visit will not eliminate all day-to-day concerns, but you can take care of the basics in between visits.

Air Duct Contamination Prevention

First, you should guard against the build up of dirt and debris by:

  • Changing the filters periodically
  • Vacuuming your home regularly
  • Using high efficiency filters
  • Sealing HVAC systems during home construction until you’ve cleaned the dust and debris

Second, keep your vents and ducts dry by:

  • Fixing leaks promptly
  • Checking insulation near cooling coils for moisture
  • Properly sealing and insulating ducts in spaces without air conditioning
  • Making sure your HVAC unit is an appropriate size for your home

Stay on top of these points in between professional maintenance sessions.

Repairman

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is a top concern for many homeowners. In the average six-room home, up to 40 pounds of debris and dust is circulated annually. Throughout normal home use, you and your family will generate plenty of dust, chemicals and other air pollutants. These substances are re-circulated anywhere from five to seven times a day. This can cause a build up of particles in your ductwork. Dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean poor air composition, but they likely make some contribution to your indoor air quality.

Energy Savings

Build up from contaminants, dirt and debris can cause an HVAC system to work harder than it should. Over time, this will shorten the life of your system. While filters are expected to get dirty and should be replaced regularly, ducts should not have significant obstructions if you want them to work properly. The United States Department of Energy states that 25 to 40 percent of energy used in household forced air systems is wasted. Keeping ducts clean will help you reduce your monthly energy expenses.

Finding a Good Air Duct Cleaner

Stay away from air duct cleaners who boast about the health benefits of their service. These claims are not supported by any studies or scientific evidence. Consult customer reviews and make sure the company holds the relevant state licenses. Additionally, check with your local consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau for any complaints lodged against your prospective service provider.

What to Expect From a Professional Duct Cleaner

A professional cleaner will preform an inspection before the actual cleaning. They will bring their own specialized equipment including a vacuum. They will follow NADCA standards and NAIMA practices for ducts with fiberglass linings. Plus, they will know how and make an effort to protect your carpet and furnishings.

Cleaning your air ducts can get a little tricky as you navigate the various aspects of the service. Be extra careful when choosing a service provider and always check licenses. Keep track of filters in between professional inspections and you will be able to get the most out of your HVAC system. With proper maintenance, you can keep unwanted dust, chemicals and debris out of your household and away from your vents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allergy & Air. Why You Should Clean Your Air Ducts. Web blog post. Indoor Air Quality. Allergy & Air. 20 July 2015, 11 July 2017

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