Air duct cleaning is something that has grown in popularity over the past several years. This service can be offered by a variety of companies including those that specialize in HVAC service and repair, cleaning services, restoration, or those that focus completely on cleaning air ducts. The ductwork in our homes and businesses is nicely tucked away, but many of us would be surprised to see what the inside spaces of the parts that make up this system may actually look like. There are diverse opinions either way regarding the necessity of duct cleaning, but those that suffer from allergies and have issues with excessive dust tend to be most receptive to the idea. Because it is a relatively recent process, no scientific studies have been able to prove that it will prevent illness and there are no findings available to show a measured improvement in air quality or a reduction in air particle counts. This article will outline the basics of ductwork, discuss what is involved with professional duct cleaning, and provide information that may help you decide if having your ducts cleaned is a good option for you.
What Is Duct Cleaning?
This typically involves a cleaning process which includes several components of your HVAC system. The list below identifies the items that are potentially included when having your ducts cleaned:
- supply, return, and intake ducts and registers
- grilles and diffusers
- air handler, fans, and motor
- housings, exchangers, and coils
- drip pans
The methods used to perform cleaning can vary slightly, but standards have been established by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) to help ensure consistency across all providers of this service. Generally, you will first have an assessment of your ducts and HVAC system components listed above which will be similar to an inspection to determine the condition of your system and advise whether a cleaning is recommended or not. During the cleaning procedure, industry-specific tools are utilized to remove built-up dust and debris from the system and ducts that run through walls, under floors, and over ceilings inside your home – all in places that are nearly impossible for us to reach on our own. Then the loosened debris is vacuumed out, leaving behind a shiny, clean interior and the satisfaction of conquering those filthy ducts.
What Is Used to Clean Ducts?
There are various pieces of equipment, tools, and devices that duct-cleaning specialists will make use of when performing this service to your HVAC system.
- Inspection Tools – items used to assess the level of debris that has collected inside the areas of the system that can be treated. These items can additionally be utilized to maintain a watch over the progress of the cleaning procedure and to determine if the results meet the desired expectations. Examples of these tools include mirrors, periscopes with lights, and cameras.
- Compressed Air Devices – used in conjunction with many pneumatic tools that require direct air pressure. This usually comes in the form of a compressor.
- Vacuums – specific vacuum devices are designed for use in air duct cleaning. Portable and truck-mounted units are both acceptable and approved by the NADCA. Either type of unit will create a negative pressure in the ductwork to maintain control over the flow of debris. If there is a need to extract moisture from any areas, a wet vacuum may also be used.
- Access Tools – used to create an open path to various areas that are otherwise unreachable. Entry points are made using drills and saws, as needed, to allow equipment to successfully remove debris and clean the system. Whenever possible, access is made through diffusers, return grilles, vents, and duct end caps in order to avoid creating unnecessary openings.
- Imaging Tools – these are used as inspection devices and also throughout the process to evaluate the results. Handheld cameras, CCTV cameras, and even remotely-operated mobile cameras that move through the ventilation as the process occurs can all be used to provide a clear view of the work performed.
- Chemicals – cleaners and disinfectants may be recommended in some cases. These would include such things as biocides to kill bacteria and mold and sealants to repair leaks. Any chemicals or sanitizers used must be registered by the EPA. The NADCA provides a guide that discusses the use of chemicals related to duct cleaning.
Unfortunately, this is something you will need to watch out for. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to do your research before choosing a company. Here are a few pointers you will want to consider.
- Verify membership with the NADCA. Many companies falsely claim to be members. Click here to see what NADCA says about why it is important to choose a verified member of the organization.
- Cheap offers that, once in your home to perform the job, will convince you to do a “mold inspection” only to determine that you have a mold problem that they will offer to take care of for additional charges. This is commonly done to cover costs of coupon or discount deals. If you are concerned about mold, hire a reputable company that specializes in mold testing.
- Low-cost “blow and go” service. These are the offers you see for a small fee per vent or a whole-house package at a cheap price. These inexpensive offers almost guarantee some type of added suggestions for other services, as in the mold treatment discussed above. Watch an example of an undercover story by Inside Edition on this type of scam in action.
Now that you are familiar with the basics of air duct cleaning and armed with a few helpful tips of caution, you will want to ensure that you have done the following before making a final decision.
Read information from different trusted online sources
Read independent reviews and recommendations for companies you are considering
Get more than one estimate and references from each company
Choose a verified member of the NADCA to perform the service
Create a preventative care list that includes yearly inspection of your heating and cooling system, regular changes of the system air filter, and steps that ensure you prevent moisture from getting into the system.
At US Home Filter, we enjoy helping our customers solve filtration issues and we are here to answer your questions about your indoor air quality and allergy concerns. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you are looking for the highest level of air quality and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!