Is Air Duct Cleaning Worth It?

is air duct cleaning worth it

Air duct cleaning can be helpful if you’re not happy with the performance of your air conditioner. If you have noticed that your AC suddenly has a low volume of airflow, an air duct cleaning could resolve it.

Many homeowners are surprised to find out that a dirty air filter can reduce your HVAC system’s efficiency by 5 to 15 percent, so just imagine what dirty mechanics do to your system’s efficiency!

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

“Air duct cleaning” is a little bit of a misleading name.

It sounds like the technician only cleans the supply and return air ducts and registers, and grilles – but they clean most components of your HVAC system.

The technician will also clean the heat exchangers and cooling coils, which increases the efficiency of your air conditioner too. The technician will also clean the fan motor and fan housing, removing dust and debris that could be obstructing their normal operation.

The technician could also help you identify any air duct leaks, which can help you save on your cooling bill and increase low airflow.

When Should I Get My Air Ducts Cleaned?

You’ve already learned that having low airflow problems can be a good time to get your air ducts cleaned. What other considerations should you have for your air ducts?

You should consider having an air duct cleaning if:

– There is visible mold growth inside the ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. (Note: If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.)

– Your ducts are infested with vermin (rodents or insects).

– Visible particles and/or debris are actually coming into the home from your supply registers.

What to Expect From an Air Duct Cleaning Service Provider

How do you know if your technician is performing your air duct cleaning properly? You should expect your technician to:

  • Open access ports or doors to allow the entire system to be inspected and cleaned
  • Inspect the system before cleaning to be sure that there are no asbestos-containing materials (like insulation, register boots, etc.) in the heating and cooling system. Asbestos-containing materials require special procedures and should only be disturbed or removed by specially trained and equipped contractors.
  • Use vacuum equipment that exhausts particles outside of the home or uses only high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuuming equipment if the vacuum exhausts inside the home
  • Use only soft-bristled brushes for fiberglass duct board and sheet metal ducts internally lined with fiberglass.
  • Take care to protect the duct work, including sealing and re-insulating any access holes the service provider may have made or used, so they are airtight
  • Follow NADCA’s standards for air duct cleaning and NAIMA’s recommended practice for ducts containing fiber glass lining or constructed of fiberglass duct board.

How to Tell if the Duct Cleaner Did a Thorough Job

Visual inspection is the best way to verify the cleanliness of your heating and cooling system. Some technicians use remote photography to document conditions inside ducts. All portions of the system should be visibly clean, and you should not be able to detect any debris with the naked eye.

Here are some post-cleaning check questions to guide you after your air duct cleaning:

  • Did the service provider obtain access to and clean the entire heating and cooling system, including ductwork and all components (drain pans, humidifiers, coils, and fans)
  • Has the service provider adequately demonstrated that ductwork and plenums are clean? (Plenum is a space in which supply or return air is mixed or moves; can be duct, joist space, attic and crawl space, or wall cavity.)
  • Is the heat exchanger surface visibly clean?
  • Are both sides of the cooling coil visibly clean?
  • If you point a flashlight into the cooling coil, does the slight shine through to the other side? It should if the coil is clean.
  • Are the coil fins straight and evenly spaced? (As opposed to being bent over and smashed together.)
  • Is the coil drain pan completely clean and draining properly?
  • Are the blower blades clean and free of oil and debris?
  • Is the blower compartment free of visible dust and debris?
  • Is the return air plenum free of visible dust or debris?
  • Do filters fit properly and are they the proper efficiency as recommended by your HVAC system’s manufacturer?
  • Is the air supply plenum (directly downstream of the air handling unit) free of moisture stains and contaminants?
  • Are interior ductwork surfaces free of visible debris? Select several sites at random in both the return and supply sides of the system.
  • Is all fiberglass material in good condition/ It should be free of tears and abrasions; well adhered to underlying materials.
  • Are newly installed access doors in sheet metal ducts attached with more than just duct tape? They should be attached with screws, rivets, mastic, etc.
  • With the system running, is air leaking through access doors or covers very slight or nonexistent?
  • Have all registers, grilles, and diffusers been firmly reattached to the floors, walls, and/or ceilings?
  • Are the registers, grilles, and diffusers visibly clean?
  • Does the system function properly in both the heating and cooling modes after cleaning? Did the technician verify this?

How Else Can I Keep My Air Ducts Clean?

Many homeowners today are more aware than ever of indoor pollution. Maybe someone in your family has allergy sensitivities. One of your reasons for pursuing an air duct cleaning could be to improve the indoor air quality of your home.

Air duct cleanings can help with that, but there are other steps you can take to reduce the dust and debris in your home.

Replacing your air filter as soon as it becomes clogged is important. It’s also important to never run the air conditioner without a filter if you can avoid it. The air filter protects your HVAC’s coils and prevents dust from being blown into your home through the supply ducts.

You can also vacuum your home regularly. Be sure to get a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner (HEPA) or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum cleaner can take. Vacuuming can actually redistribute the dirt in your home if you are not using a high-efficiency filter bag (or vacuum).

Standard vacuums draw in dust and dirty and store it in a bag or a canister. The air that is taken in with the dust is pulled through the system and exhausted through the motor. Unfortunately, standard vacuum cleaners still let microscopic dust and dirt particles back out into your home. HEPA vacuums exhaust air using a special HEPA filter.

HEPA filters are made up of hundreds of square feet of filter paper folded into a couple of square feet of space. These filters can remove 99.97 percent of all particles that are .3 microns in size or larger. These filters are so powerful they can even filter out most asbestos!

Get Air Duct Cleaning in Tampa Bay

Do you want to move forward with getting an air duct cleaning? Contact us today to get a technician to look at your low airflow problems or clogged vents. We’ll get your air handler back to working its best.