New: Is Air Duct Cleaning Worth It?

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Air duct cleaning removes dust particles that may be harmful to your health from your home. While many people use an air duct cleaning service to improve their indoor air quality as part of their routine home maintenance, there are several specific situations in which you should have your air ducts cleaned. If you suspect you have mold inside the ducts or on your HVAC system, your ducts are infested with insects or rodents, or the ducts are clogged with excess dust and debris that is being released into your home, air duct cleaning is recommended. You, of course, must first remedy the cause or the problem will likely recur.

An air duct cleaning service will be qualified to handle this.

Cleaning your heating and cooling components may increase your system efficiency and extend your system’s life.

air duct cleaning

What is air duct cleaning?

Air duct cleaning includes the cleaning of heating and cooling (HVAC) components of forced air systems. These include the supply and returns, air ducts and registers, grilles, diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, drip pans, fan motor, and air handler.

These elements sometimes become contaminated with dust, pollen, or debris

If moisture is present, there is also an increased chance of mold growth from mold spores that are always present in the air. These situations can all cause health hazards to you and your family.

Your air duct cleaning service may suggest applying certain chemical biocides that kill the contaminants in the ductwork and HVAC system. Some of these are designed to seal the inside surfaces to prevent additional mold moving forward. 

Once your HVAC system has been cleaned, you should decide if you want to use these chemicals. If you have a pregnant occupant or small children, you will want to be very careful. Until there is conclusive research, be cautious, and be sure you fully understand the chemicals being used.

They may also recommend sealing your air duct leaks, which will save on heating and cooling bills.

air duct cleaning

Is it worth it? 

Yes, air duct cleaning is worth it in several situations. 

  • If someone in your family has asthma or anyone in your family has allergies or is showing symptoms of respiratory issues, or other unexplained symptoms, you should move ahead. 
  • If you have a musty or moldy smell or see mold, you should move forward with duct cleaning.
  • If you have an infestation of bugs or vermin, yes, you should clean your air ducts.
  • If your ducts are clogged, yes, have your air ducts cleaned.

What will the air duct service provider do?

Every air duct cleaning engagement is a little different, depending upon whether you have indications of moisture or mold, clogged vents, or an infestation of bugs or rodents. 

The steps to air duct cleaning are as follows:

  • Open all doors to allow HVAC access.
  • Inspect for any asbestos-containing materials which require special handling.
  • Vacuum either using equipment that exhausts outside or high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) vacuuming equipment. 
  • Cover and protect furniture, carpet, and home contents.
  • Brush the duct surfaces while vacuuming to loosen particles. 
  • Protect the ductwork, resealing, and re-insulating if necessary.
  • Follow all NADCA standards. 

Do your own inspection following completion of the job. Make a visual inspection of the entire HVAC system. Your service provider may use cameras to show you inside the ducts, and there should be no debris visible to you. 

  • Check the entire area for cleanliness
  • You should be checking the heating, cooling components, blower, plenums, metal ducts, fliver glass, access doors, air vents, and finally, the system operation.
  • Be sure to check the coils, heat exchanger, coil fins, drip pan, blower blades, blower compartment, filters, metal ducts, leakage in access doors, and cleanliness of all registers, grilles, and diffusers. 
Damage Buddy Tip: Be sure to run the heating and air conditioning modes before your air duct cleaners leave. 

What does the EPA say about air duct cleaning? 

The EPA cautiously talks about air duct cleaning and agrees you should undertake this under the specific situations outlined above. They do not have enough research to prove it can prevent health problems but recognize that if done correctly, there is no harm to be done and recommend it on an “as needed” basis. 

Better safe than sorry? We think so.

How do I choose an air duct cleaning service? 

There are many local companies that a search for “duct cleaning” will find for you. There is also an association, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). 

  • Talk to three or more air duct cleaning services before making a decision and always get a written estimate that fully details the services they will provide.
  • Avoid cleaners who overstate the health benefits and who recommend routine cleaning. If they say they are, EPA certified, be aware there is no such certification.
  • Avoid the use of chemicals unless you understand the pros and cons.
  • Check local references to be sure they were satisfied, and there were no HVAC problems after.
  • As always, check with your Better Business Bureau for any complaints.
  • Discuss their process, protection for you and your pets, and their compliance with NADCA standards.
  • Ask about relevant state licenses.
  • Get a written estimate and an outline of the job scope.

Can I clean my air ducts myself?

Cleaning air ducts is typically not something to take on yourself. You will not have the right tools or training. What you can do is get out the vacuum and vacuum your floor grills and registers. Change your filters frequently and see our preventative measures below. 

How much should you expect to pay to have your air ducts cleaned?

The cost will vary depending upon the size of your HVAC system, how easily accessible your HVAC is, the climate of your region, and how contaminated the system is, but a good range is $450 to $100 per job. You will want to shop around as it is a competitive field, and there are many air duct cleaning services.

How to prevent duct contamination

Regardless of whether you have your air ducts cleaned professionally, you should always be concerned about indoor air quality. Here are some preventative measures you can and should take.

Keep dirt from entering your system:

  • Use the highest efficiency filter allowed for your specific system. 
  • Change filters frequently. Put this on your calendar!
  • Be sure all filters are in place and fit properly.
  • Have your cooling coils and drain pans cleaned whenever your system is serviced. 
  • Seal off your system if you have renovation or construction work done to avoid excess dust from getting into the HVAC.
  • Vacuum your home regularly.

Keep moisture out of ducts:

Prevent mold growth by managing moisture in your ducts.

  • Repair all leaks or water damage promptly.
  • Monitor cooling coils which are designed to remove water from the air. Check the drain pans and look for standing water.
  • Check all duct seals in attics and other hidden spaces.
  • When replacing your air conditioning, be sure an engineer specs out the correct size for your house.

Sources and for more information:

EPA 

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned

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