You’ve probably seen or heard an advertisement for air duct cleaning, and you might have wondered if it’s right for you. You might have even heard that your air ducts should be cleaned routinely. But what is it, and is it really necessary? Here’s what you need to know:
What Happens During a Cleaning?
According to the National Air Duct Cleaners’ Association (NADCA) standards, your service provider should open all vents and doors throughout the entire system, and every component should be cleaned. This should include the fan motor and housing, drip pans, heating and cooling coils, and the housing around the A/C unit. The two-stage process should be done only by a professional, and care should be taken to protect furniture, carpets, and pets. First, dirt and other debris should be loosened (the service provider should take care not to cause damage that may result in air escaping). Next, a high-powered vacuum should be used to remove the dirt from the entire HVAC system. Failure to clean even one component can result in recontamination of the entire system.
When Should I Get a Cleaning?
The EPA does not indicate that there is any benefit from the routine cleaning of air ducts. Instead, you should only have this service performed if it is needed. You may need an air duct cleaning if:
– There are rodents, insects, or other pests (or their droppings) infesting your heating and air system.
– Mold or excessive dirt has built up inside the system. (The presence of mold can only be determined by testing a sample at a lab.)
– There is determined to be an increased fire hazard.
– The system blows out visible dirt or debris, or is the source of an unacceptable odor.
– The system has been contaminated by fire, smoke, or water damage.
Will Cleaner Airways Help My Health?
There is no evidence that buildup in your vents can negatively affect your health, as most of the dirt adheres to the surfaces. However, the presence of mold may be dangerous. If you have insulated ducts and the insulation has gotten wet or moldy, it must be replaced. The EPA agrees that indoor air quality may be a factor in some health conditions. If anyone in your family is suffering from allergies or other unexplained illnesses, talk to your doctor about whether an air duct cleaning might help.
Could This Impact My Power Bill?
There is some evidence that suggests that cleaning your entire HVAC system may improve energy efficiency, lowering your power bill as well as some costs associated with maintenance. However, it is unlikely that only cleaning your ducts will have the same effect.
What Should I Look For in a Service Provider?
You should get estimates from at least three different companies, and take note of what they promise. Make sure they agree to clean the entire system, and beware of anyone claiming to be EPA-certified, who recommends routine cleaning, or who makes unsubstantiated claims about its effect on health. Also, mold, insects, or serious dirt buildup usually indicate an underlying problem, so find a service provider who is willing to look for and treat the cause-not just the symptoms. If the issue is not corrected, it is likely to reoccur.