Wondering if cleaning the air ducts in your home is worth the time and cost?
It can be difficult to recognize that a home’s ductwork is dirty. However, this hidden component of a central heating and cooling system plays an essential role in your home’s environment. Just as the mechanical elements of an HVAC system require inspection and maintenance on a regular basis, it is also important to evaluate and address the cleanliness of ductwork periodically.
So, is duct cleaning really worth it? Read on to learn everything you need to know.
Benefits of Air Duct Cleaning
Air duct cleaning touts numerous benefits, but these are the biggest two:
1. Improved Indoor Air Quality
Air duct cleaning helps improve the quality of the air inside of your home, which is important considering we spend the majority of our time here. Over time, dander, dust and the like accumulate within the ductwork in your home. As your air conditioning system cycles on, these pollutants are stirred up and forced out of ductwork, through the air vents and into the rooms of your home. Without routine ductwork cleaning, the problem will only get worse.
Because the ducts serve as the path for moving treated air to various parts of a home, it is important to ensure that this pathway is clean. Statistics suggest that the pollutants in ducts contribute to at least one of every six cases of allergy problems. Children, in particular, tend to face particularly high risks of suffering health problems because of polluted air in the home. An invasion of vermin in one’s ducts can create even greater risks of health problems through the diseases that rodents and insects can carry.
2. Increased Efficiency
As much as 40 percent of the energy used for managing comfort levels in the home can be wasted in one’s ductwork. Excess dirt can cause central heating and cooling equipment to work hard, which results in greater energy demands. As dirt collects in the ducts, it can restrict airflow, causing central equipment to wear out more quickly. The added stress put on your AC shortens your system’s overall lifespan, decreases efficiency, and increases your energy bills. Regular cleaning is crucial for achieving optimum energy results and comfort conditions in the home.
What is Air Duct Cleaning?
Duct cleaning is a service provided by certain air conditioning system technicians that works to clean the air ducts within the walls of your home. In doing so, the ducts are rid of dander, dirt, dust and the like, which can reduce the amount of pollutants in your home.
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.
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 Have My Air Duct Cleaned?
A homeowner should schedule duct cleaning at least once every five years to ensure your central HVAC system continues to operate properly. However, there are cases where it is important to schedule more frequent duct services.
You should have your air ducts cleaned if:
– There is visible mold growth inside your air ducts, on the air vents, or any other component of your air conditioning 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 air ducts show evidence of or have had any sort of prior infestation, such as insects or rodents.
– There is a visible emission of dust or other debris coming into your home from your air vents.
– You’ve recently renovated your home.
– During seasonal HVAC maintenance, a technician might notice problems with airflow, which could be a signal of duct problems such as leaks or excessive debris. In this case, it would be wise to schedule a duct inspection promptly.
What to Expect From an Air Duct Cleaning Service
You should expect the 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 ductwork, 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 fiberglass 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 light 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.
Call Blair’s Air for an Air Duct Cleaning Quote
If you’re in need of air duct cleaning services, Blair’s Air Conditioning and Heating has you covered. We understand the need for a safe and healthy home, which is why our duct cleaning services are both effective and affordable. If you’re ready to make your home a healthier place to live, schedule your appointment with us today.
Call (727) 800-4148 to schedule your appointment.