Air ducts are the lungs of your home – whatever they breathe in, you breathe in too. An air duct system not only circulates air but also particles like dust mites, dirt, and mold. Being out of sight, it may not be top of mind to have them professionally cleaned, but we are here to tell you why regular air duct cleaning should be top of mind and top of your priority list.
The HVAC system provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning to maintain comfort throughout every room. Supply ducts push the conditioned air out into your home, and return ducts bring the old air back for filtering and conditioning. HVAC systems need an equal amount of air entering and leaving through ducts for efficient operation.
Considering the importance of clean air, you may be wondering if air duct cleaning should be on your home maintenance list.
Where Are Air Ducts Located?
The grill on your ceiling or floor that you feel the air coming out of is not the air vent. It is the air vent cover. But there is actually a whole hidden network in your home dedicated to circulating your air. Air ducts, or HVAC ductwork, or AC ducts, are conduits that supply warm or cool air to heat, ventilate, and cool each room. Air ducts are connected to the HVAC unit which filters then heats or cools your home’s air before sending it off. Ducts should always be located within the conditioned envelope of the building, ideally within the framing of floors, ceilings and walls, and they should be maintained so air does not leak out of or into them.
What Is Air Duct Cleaning?
Air duct cleaning is a type of maintenance cleaning that covers a variety of your HVAC components. This process can include your system’s supply and return ducts, registers and grills, as well as some of your diffusers, heating and cooling coils, fans, and more. The cost to clean your air ducts may vary depending on the size of your home, any existing problems with the ductwork, and how many vents you have.
Aire-Tech’s air duct cleaning services will use an industrial-sized vacuum and specially designed brushes to reach deep into the ductwork that runs the interior of your home. We will work carefully to remove any irritants, toxins, or pollutants from your ducts without redepositing them into your home.
How Do Air Ducts Get Dirty?
You might think that you keep a pretty clean house. And that might be true… to an extent! However, airborne contaminants in your home land visibly on surfaces, but also circulate with airflow currents forced by your HVAC system. Every time we open the door, walk across carpeting, scratch out dry skin or unroll paper towels, we contribute to airborne dust. Of course pets and dust emitting activities such as remodeling make the problem worse. In fact, it is not uncommon to find construction dust in a home’s heating and cooling system years after the house was built (gross, right?). On average, this contaminated air recirculates throughout your home five to seven times per day.
If you are witnessing pollen and dust on your shelves, those same materials are travelling through your air ducts and into your HVAC filter. Other common airborne substances include smoke, mold and dander from pets; it can vary based on time of year, your lifestyle and geography. If you have a moisture problem in your home, mold can also form inside your air ducts.
Many times, rodents and insects are attracted to air ducts through air returns; an unfortunate side effect to these creatures getting into your air ducts is that they can also leave waste, which can affect the general cleanliness of your air ducts.
HVAC Components That Get Dirty:
- Return air ducts
- Heat Exchanger
- Cooling coils
- Supply ductwork
Benefits of Duct Cleaning
Scheduling duct cleaning has a wide range of benefits. Here are just a few:
- Improved Respiratory Health
If you suffer respiratory issues, cleaning your ducts regularly will result in fewer symptoms, such as headaches, caused by airborne contaminants. Even individuals without allergies can react to high levels of dust, mold and other types of indoor air pollution.
- Your Home Will Look and Smell Better
By removing contaminants with unpleasant smells and circulating fresh air, you will experience a noticeable difference in the cleanliness of your home.
- Better Airflow and HVAC Performance
Since the dust buildup can strain your heating and cooling system, regularly cleaning your air ducts will improve the performance of your entire system.
- Save Money on Energy Bills
When your heating and air conditioning system becomes more efficient, your energy bill will naturally go down as a result.
- Avoid Premature HVAC Replacement
The continual strain on your HVAC system caused by dirty ducts can reduce its life span.
- No More Small Pests in Your Ductwork
Regular duct cleaning will clean out anything and everything.
5 Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning
Indoor air quality is a key component of personal health and home comfort that does not get nearly enough attention. One way to considerably reduce indoor air pollution is to schedule duct cleaning. Duct cleaning is a service that is typically recommended every three to five years, but sometimes you need to schedule sooner rather than later.
Signs you need duct cleaning include:
- Frequently Clogged Air Filters
Frequently clogged filters are one of the easiest signs to spot. Most homeowners change their air filters every three months, but changing them more frequently might be best if you have pets in your home. If you are keeping up with your filter replacements, but they are still filthy every time you remove them, it is likely time for a duct cleaning.
- Excessive Dust
A little dust is expected, but if you notice a puff of dust when the heater or air conditioner turns on, dirty air ducts are probably to blame. After duct cleaning, you will notice that surfaces do not get dusty so quickly.
- Poor Airflow
Small particles accumulate over time and can block conditioned air from evenly distributing throughout your home, leaving you with reduced airflow and stale air. Duct cleaning will ensure continual airflow through your ducts as long as your air conditioning and heating systems are in good repair.
- Unusually High or Rising Utility Costs
When your HVAC system is clogged or straining due to dirty ducts, it has to work harder for longer to reach and maintain the thermostat setting. While continually adjusting your thermostat can help you achieve short-term comfort, you will see the consequences in higher utility bills.
- Recent Construction
If your home is newly built or has been recently remodeled, duct cleaning will clear out all the construction dust, dirt and debris that made its way into your ductwork.
How Often You Need To Clean Your Air Ducts
Aire-Tech recommends a thorough cleaning every three to five years. This duration may be shortened, however, if you notice signs of mold, excess dust, or animal infestations in your home. Following this cleaning schedule has several benefits. First of all, cleaning your air ducts can eliminate foul odors in your home. It can also save you money on electricity bills since your HVAC system will work less to transport air through the ducts. Another great benefit is improving your home’s air quality by reducing the number of pollutants and contaminants that are in circulation. Finally, you will prevent mold and mildew from growing and causing harm to your health.
Can You DIY Your Air Duct Cleaning?
It may be tempting to DIY your way to cleaner air ducts, but you probably should not take on this task yourself. Household vacuum cleaners are ill-equipped to handle the suction needed to reach deep into your ducts, and using the wrong type of brushes can damage your ductwork. Even small holes in your ductwork can create leaks in your system, allowing additional mold, dust, and debris into the ductwork, creating an expensive fix for you down the line.
In addition, if you fail to clean out all parts of your ductwork, you might end up re-contaminating the parts you were able to clean as soon as you turn your system back on. Ductwork cleaning is a job better left to the pros that have the tools and experience required.
However, if you want a less invasive DIY task, you can carefully vacuum or clean your registers yourself.
Things You Can Do Yourself:
- Change your HVAC filter. Refer to your system’s manual to see how often it recommends replacing the filter. Replace with the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system. You can purchase replacement air filters at any hardware store.
- Dust air vents and, if it seems necessary, you can remove the vent covers to visually inspect and vacuum as far as you can reach down into the ducts. This does not do much in the grand scheme of things, but making sure dust bunnies are not forming on floor vents does prevent them from falling into the ducts.
As warm weather approaches, it is important to take a few preventative measures to protect your home through the scorching months. If you follow the Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist above, your air conditioner will be in a prepared state entering the Spring and Summer months. That’s a pretty nice place to be if you ask me!
You can always count on the Aire-Tech to keep your home cool. Perhaps you need repairs, new thermostat installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help. If your system needs repair or inspection before summer, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.