Should You Ever Clean Your Air Supply Ducts?
Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning. This is because much of the dirt that may accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to health.
There has not yet been a study that has shown that it consistently improves indoor air quality, makes things cleaner. Air duct cleaning is low on the list of priorities for people who want to improve the air they breathe. – Professor Jeffrey Siegel
EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned except on an as-needed basis because of the continuing uncertainty about the benefits of duct cleaning under most circumstances. EPA does, however, recommend that if you have a fuel burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, they be inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Some research also suggests that cleaning dirty cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers can improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. However, little evidence exists to indicate that simply cleaning the duct system will increase your system’s efficiency
If you think duct cleaning might be a good idea for your home, but you are not sure, talk to a professional. The company that services your heating and cooling system may be a good source of advice. You may also want to contact professional duct cleaning service providers and ask them about the services they provide. Remember, they are trying to sell you a service, so ask questions and insist on complete and knowledgeable answers.
You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:
1. There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:
You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation.
2. If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
3. If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.
4. Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)
5. Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
Some tips or considerations when hiring duct cleaners
- Do not hire duct cleaners who make sweeping claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning — such claims are unsubstantiated.
- Do not hire duct cleaners who recommend duct cleaning as a routine part of your heating and cooling system maintenance.
- Do not allow the use of chemical biocides or chemical treatments unless you fully understand the pros and the cons.
- Check references to be sure other customers were satisfied and did not experience any problems with their heating and cooling system after cleaning.
- Contact the city office or consumer affairs or local Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints have been lodged against any of the companies you are considering.
Interview potential service providers to ensure:
They are experienced in duct cleaning and have worked on systems like yours
They will use procedures to protect you, your pets and your home from contamination
If the service provider charges by the hour, request an estimate of the number of hours or days the job will take, and find out whether there will be interruptions in the work.
Make sure the duct cleaner you choose will provide a written agreement outlining the total cost and scope of the job before work begins.
Our InterNACHI, CAHPI, Mold, Radon Certified Inspector & Indoor Air Consultant can recommend more ways to help you maintain your home.
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