Cleaning Your Dirty Ducts
You did the right thing and had your furnace maintained. But something isn’t quite right. Your home isn’t warming efficiently. Or you sense the air quality isn’t what it should be.
The problem may be dirty ducts. You should consider having your ducts cleaned if:
- There is visible mold growth inside sheet metal ducts or other components of your HVAC system
- Ducts are infested with vermin such as rodents or insects
- Ducts are clogged with dust and debris, or particles are actually being released into your home through the vents
If any of these problems exist, you should consider having your system cleaned. A good cleaning should cost between $500 and $1,000, with the price dependent on the size of the system, accessibility, and level of contamination. When choosing a duct cleaning service, here are some tips:
- Get a list of names from the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and try to get references from friends or relatives or other home service contractors you use.
- Before talking to any provider, contact the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been lodged against it.
- Talk to three providers and get written estimates of the cost and work to be done. That work should include:
- Opening access ports or doors to make sure the entire system is cleaned and inspected
- Inspecting the system before cleaning to be make sure it does not contain asbestos-containing materials which would need to be removed by specially trained contractors
- Using vacuum equipment that exhausts particles outside the home or using HEPA (high-efficiency particle air) equipment if the vacuum exhausts inside the home
- Protecting carpeting and furnishings during cleaning
- Using well-controlled brushing of duct surfaces along with vacuum cleaning to dislodge dust and other particles
- Using only soft-bristled brushes for fiberglass duct boards and sheet metal ducts lined with fiberglass.
- Sealing and re-insulating any access holes
Also make sure these providers:
- Have worked on systems like yours
- Comply with NADCA’ air duct cleaning standards and, if your ducts contain fiberglass, comply with North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) recommendations
Finally, make sure the written estimates include the number of hours or days the job will take, especially if being charged by the hour.
- Get references and check them.
- Do not hire cleaners who make dire warnings about the health benefits of duct cleaning. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), duct cleaning has never been proven to prevent health problems. So don’t be intimidated by the scare tactics.
- Do not allow the use of chemical biocides or treatments unless you understand the pros and cons.
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