Clearing the air on duct cleaning
What do you need to know before having air ducts cleaned? While there’s an ongoing debate over the benefits of duct cleaning, there’s no evidence it’s a bad idea, assuming it’s handled with care and done by trained professionals. Here’s what you need to know:
Professional duct cleaning is a good idea if:
- You live in an older home (constructed pre-1970) and the ducts haven’t been cleaned regularly.
- Anyone living in the home has allergies or ongoing respiratory issues.
- You see a significant amount of mold growth inside sheet metal ducts, or on other components of your heating and cooling system.
- Your home has been infested with rodents or insects. (Ductwork is a favorite nesting place for these pests).
- There is excessive clogging with dust and debris released into the home from your supply registers.
When to do it yourself:
If the grates of your return registers can be easily removed and vacuumed, it may prove an effective way to clean them. The U.S. EPA suggests professional cleaning may not be necessary if:
- No one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses.
- A visual inspection of the inside of the ducts reveals no indication of heavy dust and debris.
- There is no musty odor or visible mold growth.
Before you hire a professional
Prior to making a service call, be aware that if your service provider fails to follow proper duct-cleaning procedures, the process can potentially cause problems with your indoor air quality.
Use of an inadequate vacuum system could release more dust, dirt, and other contaminants (including asbestos) than if you left the ducts alone. And if the service provider is either careless or poorly trained, he or she could damage your ducts or HVAC system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.