Duct cleaning refers to the clean out of the supply, intake, and return ducts throughout your home. It should be completed by a professional duct cleaning company with the proper training and is equipped with the appropriate tools for the job: specialized blowers, vacuums, brushes, etc.
Levels of air pollution can be 2-5 times higher than outdoor pollution. Household ducts usually contain dust, mites, mold, pollen, and animal dander that get cycled through your home on average of 3-5 times daily. It is normal to find some level of dust in household ducts. As long as all components of the HVAC unit were properly installed and stay well maintained, the dust levels should not grow to be excessive and other contaminates should be at a minimal.
Determining if a Duct Cleaning is Necessary
Mold Growth: If moisture is present, the potential for mold growth increases. Spores can be released into living areas and contaminate the air. Airborne mold exposure can potentially cause allergic reactions and/or other symptoms.
- If you suspect mold growth in your ducts or other components of your HVAC system, call an expert to complete a professional mold inspection of the areas of concern. Often times it is difficult to visually spot mold in your HVAC system. Sometimes mold is accompanied by a musty odor. An inspector will be equipped with the proper tools (i.e: moisture meters, thermal image, etc.) to find and identify mold threats.
- When it comes to mold development in your heating and cooling system, it can easily be prevented with simple maintenance checks. Make sure that all components are clean and properly functioning. It is also important to control moisture build up with the system. Taking the time to implement proper HVAC maintenance checks will help to prevent mold growth.
Vermin: If your ducts are in infested with vermin (i.e: rodents or insects), you should consider having your ducts cleaned once the infestation has been eliminated. Rodents and insects tend to leave behind hazardous bacteria. Whether it is from hair and dander or fecal matter, it is something that should be cleaned out.
Excessive Dust and Debris: If all components of the HVAC system are not well maintained, dust and debris can build up beyond normal levels. Excessive dust and debris should be cleaned out from your ducts. While normal levels of dust in the ducts can be harmless, elevated dust and debris levels clogging the ducts can release into the home from the supply registers.
- Factors that contribute to elevated dust and debris levels: Pets, smoking, recent renovations, local weather conditions, and overall home cleanliness.
- While clogged air ducts can potentially diminish the air quality in your home, they can also reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system. When the various components of your air system is loaded with dust and debris, the system has to work harder to accomplish the same work. When you clean out the debris, it will contribute to energy consumption savings.
Regular HVAC Maintainence
Above all else, the best thing you can do for your indoor air quality is taking the time to make sure your HVAC system is well maintained. Regularly check that all components, such as the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing, are properly installed and well-maintained. Often times, poor maintenance, or lack there of, is the main contributing factor in excessively dirty ducts.
If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, it important to make sure the service provider agrees to clean all components of the system and is qualified to do so.
Failure to clean a component of a contaminated system can result in re-contamination of the entire system, thus negating any potential benefits. Post duct cleaning, you should make it a habit to conduct regular maintenance checks of your heating and cooling system. A well-maintained and properly function heating and cooling system will help to prevent excessive debris build up and prevent potential mold development. Duct cleaning is something that should be completed on an as needed basis. So long as you take the time to take good care of your HVAC system, you should not need duct cleaning too frequently.
If you are considering getting your ducts cleaned, take the time to do the research. Feel free to ask the company lots of questions. It is important to find a reputable professional. A bad duct cleaning job is worse than no duct cleaning at all!