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What Chicago Homeowners Can Do to Prevent Dirty Ductwork

It's easy to neglect your home's ductwork. After all, unless you spend a lot of time in unfinished parts of your home, you probably never lay eyes on the metal passageways that circulate air around your home. However, dirty ducts can silently and swiftly present consequences you want to avoid. Learn more about preventing dirty ductwork and the benefits of doing so.

How to Prevent Dirty Ductwork

You rely on ducts to deliver heated and cooled air around your home. But how do you keep them clean?

  • Schedule preventative maintenance: Your home's heating and cooling system is inseparably connected with the ductwork. If any dirt, mold or other contaminants are found on the HVAC equipment or air filter, they can spread around the ductwork and into your home. Regular service keeps the equipment clean and running efficiently. It also ensures optimal safety, performance and a longer life span.
  • Have the ductwork inspected and cleaned: In addition to HVAC equipment inspections, have a professional look at the ductwork periodically and assess whether it’s time for a cleaning. You might have the ductwork assessed if you have unexplained respiratory symptoms at home; if you think an animal is nesting in the ductwork; or if you think you spotted mold growing there. A thorough duct cleaning performed by a professional can restore ductwork to its former cleanliness.
  • Seal off the ductwork during construction: If you hire a contractor to add an addition to your home or complete another renovation project, make sure the team seals off the ductwork first. This ensures contaminants like sawdust don’t make their way into the ducts. If this happens, the heating and cooling system could become damaged.
  • Clean new ducts before running the HVAC equipment: You may need to install new ducts or retrofit your existing system. If so, ask the installation professionals to thoroughly clean the new ductwork prior to turning on the heating and cooling equipment. Since new ducts commonly contain oil and debris from construction, these contaminants could circulate into the HVAC equipment and ultimately into the air you breathe. Cleaning the ducts first prevents these problems.
  • Place return ducts carefully: In cases of ductwork retrofits and installations, make sure you understand the importance of positioning return registers away from sources of contamination. For even air distribution, you want at least one supply register in every room. However, return registers don’t belong in the bathroom or kitchen, two of the most highly polluting rooms in the home. Return registers in these locations would send mold, moisture, grease and odors into the ductwork and around your whole house. Prevent contamination by keeping return registers out of the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Keep your home clean: Establish a weekly dusting, vacuuming and household cleaning routine to remove dust, debris and mold. Keeping your home clean is great for preventing dirty ductwork since these pollutants can’t circulate through the ducts if they don't exist in high quantities around your home in the first place.

Benefits of Preventing Dirty Ductwork

It pays to listen to the pros and do everything in your power to keep the ductwork as clean as possible. By taking the above steps to prevent air ducts from becoming dirty, you benefit in the following ways:

  • Better indoor air quality and fewer health problems: When contaminants stick to the ductwork walls, some of it is dislodged and enters the indoor air. If you're sensitive to mold, pet dander, dust or other allergens, you will appreciate having cleaner ductwork. Plus, the air smells fresher and surfaces don’t collect dust as quickly as when the ductwork is clean.
  • Improved HVAC system efficiency: Air travels with greater efficiency over smooth surfaces. If the ductwork accumulates contaminants, heating and cooling performance drops as airflow is impaired. Also, if dirt and debris settle on the equipment itself, it can impact performance and damage the equipment, leading to higher energy bills and a shorter system life span.
  • Saved time and money: By preventing dirty ductwork in the first place, you can avoid the need for duct cleaning services. It takes time to research a qualified company for the job and then you must pay for the project. If you keep on top of the tasks outlined above, you can avoid this hassle.

To learn more about the benefits of preventing dirty ductwork, please visit We are an experienced network of HVAC providers serving Chicago area homeowners.

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