Does your home's forced-air cooling and heating system need a duct cleaning? That's not an easy question to answer, and it depends on many factors in your home, ranging from the span of time since your last duct cleaning to how many dogs and cats you own. However, if any of several variables apply to your Chicagoland home, a duct cleaning is likely needed. It will not only improve indoor air quality, but it will also improve the efficiency of the HVAC system.
Why Do Ducts Get Dirty?
Think of your home's ductwork as the respiratory network for your home's HVAC system. It distributes conditioned air to every room in the house and then brings air back to the furnace or A/C to be reheated or cooled. As this air returns to the equipment, it brings dust and debris with it.
The air can contain a variety of particulates that have been picked up along the way, including dust mites, pet dander, pollen, carpet fibers, mold spores, chemical residue and more. Much of this unwanted, unhealthy material gets left in the air ducts, accumulating over time.
Negative Effects of Dirty Ducts
Household air must flow through the ductwork several times a day. As conditioned air is delivered throughout your home, it will pick up a variety of materials from inside the ducts, potentially contaminating your indoor air.
While health authorities haven't officially concluded that dirty ducts can cause measurable negative health effects, it's reasonable to conclude that various airborne contaminants picked up from dirty ductwork – among them, mold spores, bacteria, and even insect parts and feces – aren't good for your health.
But that's not the only negative consequence of dirty ducts. As the air moving through ducts jettisons its varied particulates into the ducts, there's less free space for air to move through them. This means your HVAC equipment has to work harder to push conditioned air through the system and your house. It wastes energy, reduces performance and comfort, stresses parts, and eventually hastens the system's breakdown.
Signs Your Ducts Need Cleaning
A comprehensive duct inspection is the best way to determine if your home needs a professional cleaning. Short of that, there are several telltale signs that a duct cleaning is in order. They include:
- If you can actually see dust bunnies blowing out of supply ducts, it's a sign that the entire duct system has dust accumulation. It's not that uncommon, however, to see signs of dust near return registers, so that doesn't necessarily signal the need for a duct cleaning.
- If you can see mold growing inside or near ducts, the ductwork is contaminated. If left unchecked, that mold will spread to other areas of your home via air distribution.
- Evidence of vermin and insects – either their odor, visual sightings or the pitter patter of little feet – suggests a duct cleaning is necessary. As the air moves through ducts, it can pick up contaminants from bugs and rodents, including feces, body parts, dander and more.
What Happens During Ductwork Cleaning
During a comprehensive duct cleaning, technicians will utilize high-performance equipment to both remove and dispose of accumulated materials found in the ducts. Typically, a duct cleaning won't be restricted to just the ducts; it will cover ancillary components of your forced-air system. Following are some typical steps in a quality duct cleaning:
- Clean registers, grilles and diffusers
- Clean the blower motor and its housing
- Replace air filters
- Clean an A/C's evaporator coil, along with its condensate drain and pan
- Clean both supply and return plenums
- Clean the furnace heat exchanger
- Wash any air cleaners
- Clean the ductwork
- Put everything back together
How Often Should Ducts Be Cleaned?
This depends on several factors, though every three to five years is a typical suggested frequency. Factors that call for duct cleaning more often include whether your home has fur-bearing pets, doesn't get cleaned regularly, is located in an area with a lot of pollen-producing vegetation, or is near a construction site or dusty road.
One of the main factors is fairly obvious. If your HVAC system is running all the time, it will accumulate debris in the ducts much quicker. A lack of regular maintenance, both do-it-yourself filter changes and professional visits, will also allow ductwork to fill up with contaminants faster than otherwise.
Learn more about the professional duct cleaning services provided by Comfort24-7.com, or contact us today at 855-GET-COMFY to find a contactor near you!