You’re just sitting down to dinner, when the phone rings. “When was the last time you had your ducts cleaned?” the caller asks. “You know it’s important to your health and air quality to have it done at least once a year. Our company can send someone to do the job for a very low price. Can we schedule an appointment for you?”
How do you respond? Is he right? How important are clean ducts to your health, the health of your HVAC system, or of your Lakewood home? There’s a lot of misinformation out there. So we’d like to provide you with this duct cleaning FAQ, in the hope of setting the record straight.
1. What are the benefits of duct cleaning?
The Environmental Protection Agency has found no conclusive evidence that cleaning your ducts regularly has any impact on your health or your HVAC system’s efficiency. However, other organizations, such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, have found evidence that duct cleaning, when done properly, can be beneficial and improve your indoor air quality, reducing allergies and illness. Best practices are to clean only the return air duct, as well as the system’s air handler, in order to improve air circulation. Any time your ducts are cleaned, your HVAC system should be cleaned as well.
If you do want to have your ducts cleaned, make sure it’s done for the right reasons, and that the company you hire is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners’ Association.
2. How often should I have my ducts cleaned?
There are a few circumstances under which even the EPA agrees that duct cleaning is necessary. They are:
- Mold and mildew growing inside your ducts.
- An infestation of vermin or insects living in your ductwork.
- Ducts so severely clogged that dust is actually expelled from your vents when you turn your HVAC system on.
What about those organizations that endorse regular cleaning? The phone call said once a year. Is that standard? No. There are differing opinions on exactly how often it should be done, but most experts agree that every three to five years is sufficient. Other occasions to have your ducts cleaned include when you move into a new home, remodel your existing home, or have a new home built.
3. A duct cleaning company says they use chemical biocides. What does that mean?
Be careful. There are no EPA-approved chemical biocides, and no scientific evidence has been found that they’re effective in eliminating mold and bacteria. In fact, some, such as ozone, can be harmful to your health. Others, rather than eliminating contaminants, merely push them around, until they ultimately end up in your home.
A proper duct cleaning generally involves a truck-mounted vacuum, which depressurizes the ducts and sucks dirt and other debris into a collection device. The only time a duct cleaner should use any anti-microbial agents is if it’s been confirmed that there’s mold in your ductwork. In which case, make sure the solution they employ is registered with the EPA as being safe for home use.
4. Are there duct cleaning scams, and how can I avoid them?
There are a great many duct cleaning scams out there. Let’s take another look at our phone conversation from earlier. It raises a number of red flags. In addition to claiming that duct cleaning is necessary annually, you should also be suspicious of the low price. Many companies will offer very cheap duct cleaning services at first, but once they’re in your home, will quickly tell you they’ve found mold or other serious problems that will require thousands of dollars worth of additional work.
Proper duct cleaning costs several hundred dollars to begin with. If someone offers to do it for under $100, they’re likely looking to bleed you for more later on.
The job should also take at least a few hours to complete. If your duct cleaner claims to have finished in an hour or less, or merely runs an ordinary vacuum around in your ductwork, rather than using the specialized equipment mentioned earlier, then it’s likely they didn’t do a thorough job.
Finally, beware of any duct cleaners or HVAC contractors who cold call your house to offer their services. Many of these are scams. Thoroughly vet any HVAC company before hiring them to clean your ducts, to make sure that they’re a reputable company, and certified by the NADCA.
For more duct cleaning answers, contact us at Climatic Conditioning Co., Inc. today.
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