The Importance of Air Duct Cleaning
As a homeowner, a few maintenance routines need to be carefully followed, and air duct cleaning is one of the more important. Not many homeowners will attempt to clean their air ducts themselves due to a lack of knowledge, experience, and the proper equipment. There’s still a great benefit, however, to understanding why and how often air ducts should be cleaned.
Efficiency! Efficiency! Efficiency?
There is research suggesting that cleaning the various components (coils, fans, heat exchangers, etc.) of an HVAC system will help improve its efficiency. That being said, however, there is little evidence that cleaning the ductwork alone will improve the efficiency of the system.
So if cleaning the ductwork isn’t about efficiency, what is it about?
Air Duct Cleaning And Your Health
The effect on your health is going to be what most people are thinking about when they consider hiring a duct cleaning service. Dust, debris, mold spores, and other allergens present in the air can build up in the ductwork and be re-distributed throughout the air-conditioned space.
It makes sense right?
According to the EPA, duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Most of the dust, dirt, and other pollutants adhere to the duct surfaces and never re-enter the space. There are no actual studies demonstrating particulate levels in a home increasing due to dirty ducts.
This brings up an interesting and very important question. Why bother with air duct cleaning at all if there’s no proof of it negatively affecting your health?
Mold, Dust, And More Reasons to Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned
Issues like visible mold, signs of vermin, or an excessive amount of dust and debris make a solid case for air duct cleaning. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that issues like mold or rats can have an adverse effect on one’s health. Duct systems prone to these sorts of issues obviously need to be cleaned more frequently.
Along those lines, fuel-burning furnaces, stoves, and fireplaces can also increase the need for duct cleaning as can smoking, excessive cooking, cleaning, and even moving around. In the end, all air ducts should be inspected and most likely cleaned at some point during their lifetime. This brings up the following burning question and the actual point of this article.
How Often Should I Have My Air Ducts Cleaned?
The EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned routinely, but rather only as needed. This is based on their claims of dirty ducts not having an adverse effect on indoor air quality.
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), however, suggests that vents and ducts should be cleaned once every three to five years. In fact, NADCA makes a handful of claims that are in slight contrast to the environmental protection agency.
They vaguely claim that up to 40% of the energy used by an HVAC system is completely wasted. “Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system” is how they word it.
There’s nothing wrong with NADCAs statement, it’s very true that contaminants can cause a system to work harder and have a negative effect on both its efficiency and its longevity. The issue here is that they are talking about the entire HVAC system and not just the ductwork.
This is why we use the word vaguely.
Duct Cleaning And Indoor Air Quality In Today’s World – Breaking It All Down
Air conditioning is a broad term that continues to grow in scope year after year. In the beginning, a home heating and cooling system did just that, it heated and it cooled. These days air conditioning is as much about indoor air quality as it is about temperature control. Through the use of filtration systems and in-duct air purification systems, it’s possible to control the actual quality of the air you breathe and provide for your family.
In-duct air purification systems eliminate harmful allergens and pollutants within the ductwork. That’s just where this amazing, life-changing technology begins, however. Systems like the REME HALO actually produce hydrogen peroxide particles that actually enter the air-conditioned space and kill microbial contaminants in the air as well as on surfaces.
Aside from these amazing systems, proper filtration of the air is the most important part of this equation. Inspect your filters regularly and change them as needed. Select the right MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating and don’t just purchase the cheapest filters. This sort of thing is detrimental to your health and should be researched and considered.
OK so we’re taking a slight detour, but this is important. MERV ratings on air filters range from 1 to 20 with 1 being the lowest level of filtration and allowing the most airflow. Unless you’re a hospital or nuclear power plant you probably aren’t going to need a filter with a rating higher than 15. The sweet spot here is probably MERV 8-15 for a standard home or business.
The important takeaway here is that using the right filters and changing them out as needed is the single most important aspect regarding indoor air quality.
Hiring The Right Duct Cleaning Company
Duct cleaning companies will push all of these buttons trying to sell their service. Once again, there’s nothing wrong with having your air ducts cleaned and we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with what they’re saying.
Just make sure you find the right duct cleaning company. Online reviews are a great place to start. Reputable sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are great places for online reviews. Also, ask them what their service entails. Some companies will actually want to use chemicals to clean and purify the ductwork.
It’s simply a good idea to do a little bit of research on both the company you’re hiring and their methods.
In the end, it’s obviously nice to have clean air ducts, especially if you’re dealing with mold or have health issues that can be affected by the quality of the air you’re breathing. Air duct cleaning is absolutely important, it just may not as necessary or needed quite as often as some may think.
Given the superfluous amount of information and misinformation in today’s world, like most things, the real truth about air duct cleaning lies somewhere in the middle.