Duct cleaning has become very popular lately with a valid renewed focus on indoor air quality. Many companies offer “good deals” on cleaning your HVAC ducting, especially this time of year. Is this maintenance necessary? Does having your air ducts cleaned really make your home healthier and indoor air cleaner? We have put together some information for you to consider before you decide.
It has not been proven that routine cleaning of your HVAC system significantly improves the quality of your indoor air. Having said that there are some industry recommendations that you undertake this maintenance with a reputable, qualified company, every five to seven years. A better and tandem approach to managing your homes’ indoor air quality is through the use of a good filtration system on your HVAC system, and making a concerted effort to reduce contaminants introduced into your home. Less contaminants inside means there is less in your HVAC system.
There are some situations when you would want to undertake a thorough cleaning of your HVAC system:
- Post construction or renovation
- There is evidence of animal or rodent infestation in your ducting
- Someone in your home suffers from asthma or allergies and you have pets
- Post fire or flood in the home
- There is an obvious mold or contaminant issue
The cost being quoted to you will be the leading indicator of the quality of the company offering the service. For an average sized home the cleaning should take a minimum of three hours and the cost can range anywhere from $350-$1000, depending on the size of your home. If you are being offered a “deal” for less than this, take a pass. You are better off getting this task completed once every five years and paying more for a quality job. A poor job will most likely result in more contaminants being released into your home than if you had not cleaned them at all.
A reputable cleaning company should always undertake an inspection first to ensure that the cleaning is actually necessary. Do not be fooled by ads like this that indicate what can be accomplished with duct cleaning.
What is Air Duct Cleaning?
Professionals will use blowers, vacuums and brushes to clean out the air supply intake, and return ducts in your home. It should also include a rigorous clean of your air duct grills, motors and heating and cooling coils.
The service should go something like this:
Air grates should all be removed and a HEPA vacuum used to suck out debris from the vents. Typically a large external vacuum will be connected to a port in the main ductwork in the basement. They will use devices to work loose debris and dirt in the ductwork, pushing it down to the main duct where it will be sucked out by the vacuum attached. This should be done for every main vent, return vent and access points in the home’s ductwork. All system components should also be cleaned. A qualified company will ensure that no damage is done to your venting when working any debris loose.
Do not allow the use of chemical biocides, sealants or other products on your ducts unless you fully understand the pros and cons. Again, some of these agents can release contaminants into your home that are unhealthy for those who live there.
Choosing the Right Company
Do not hire companies that make sweeping claims about improved air quality
Do not be fooled by companies that offer great deals. It will be reflected in the work they do and better not to do it at all.
Check references, certifications and on line reviews. These will more than likely guide you to the reputable people you will want to work with.
The most effective way to optimize the indoor air quality in your home is to use good quality filters on your HVAC system and change or clean them (depending on the type you have) at least every three months. Since our homes are well sealed from air infiltration, minimizing contaminants is another key factor in keeping our indoor environment healthy.
If you are looking for a rule of thumb here it is –
Clean your HVAC system every 5-7 years and budget anywhere from $350 and up to get the job done properly.