Air almost continually flows through your ducts, bringing warm or cool air to every room in the house. In addition, it circulates the air we breathe to keep it dry and comfortable. However, anyone with hard furniture surfaces in their home, is familiar with that near-constant layer of dust. We’re continually removing dust, but it’s a losing battle. This is especially true when everything is closed up for long periods during times of extreme weather temperatures outside.
Add to that, our growing awareness of the effects of indoor pollution and its potential contribution to ill health.
That said, there are several options to consider for improving indoor air quality. Here we’ll consider one option in particular – cleaning the air ducts. If they haven’t been properly installed, they can accumulate dust, debris, pollen, mold, and other contaminants through leaks or holes.
To clean or not to clean – that is the question
Having dusty registers does not necessarily mean the whole system has deposits of heavy debris. It may mean you simply need to clean your registers.
However, if someone in your home suffers from allergies, there may be a benefit to having your ducts cleaned. If your home has any moisture in the ducts, there may be biological contaminates growing, which could be getting distributed through the house.
While studies are inconclusive about the impact of air duct cleaning on health, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have any piece of equipment cleaned occasionally, provided it’s done properly.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends having your ducts cleaned in the following circumstances:
- When there is visible mold growth inside hard surface ducts or other components. Since many sections of your HVAC system may not be accessible, a service provider can do a proper inspection and show you where there is any mold growth.
- When ducts are infested with invading rodents or insects.
- When ducts have excessive dust/debris that is being released into the home through the registers.
Components of duct cleaning
Cleaning air ducts is a more complicated process than you might first think. It needs to be done by trained and certified professionals, and should include not only the ducts, but all the components of your system, including:
- Supply and return air ducts
- Heat exchangers
- Heating and cooling coils
- Drip pans
- Fan motor and housing
The right service provider is crucial
If you decide to clean your ducts, make sure to use a qualified service provider who will clean all components properly. Otherwise the parts left uncleaned will simply re-contaminate the whole system. Or worse, inadequate cleaning can release more dirt and other contaminants from stirring things up than if you’d left them alone.
Trained and certified HVAC professionals will comply with NADCA or NAIMA air duct cleaning standards. These include:
- Inspecting for asbestos prior to cleaning.
- Using equipment that either sends particles outside – or has HEPA grade filtering.
- Brushing properly to dislodge the dust and debris.
- Sealing and re-insulating access openings they used so the system is airtight afterward.
It’s important to know about the potential benefits and complications of duct cleaning so you can ask your service provider the right questions.