There is quite a bit of debate about the topic of air duct cleaning and whether it’s really worth it or if it’s even necessary. The main reason seems to be that many duct cleaning services have sprung up lately and not all of them are trustworthy or capable of doing the job properly.

Nonetheless, the fact is that having the air ducts in your home cleaned by an experienced, reliable HVAC company can provide many benefits in terms of energy savings, comfort and indoor air quality. This article will explain all you should know about how duct cleaning works and the benefits it provides to help you understand why it’s definitely worth having it done.

Understanding the Issues Caused by Dirty Ductwork

The ductwork in a central HVAC system tends to be quite dirty and full of lots of dust and debris. Even though an HVAC air filter helps to trap debris, its primary purpose is just to keep debris out of the main part of the heating and AC system. That means you still always end up with quite a bit of dust and debris building up inside both the supply and return ducts.

One issue in this regard is that dirty ducts often attract pests such as mice, cockroaches and especially dust mites. This is a major problem in terms of indoor air quality since it can result in pests nesting and breeding inside of the ducts. As the HVAC system runs, it then ends up circulating contaminants and allergens from the pests into every room of the home. Lots of other allergens like pollen and mold spores also collect inside ducts and then get spread around the house.

Another issue is that dirty ducts negatively impact the energy efficiency and effectiveness of an HVAC system. When ducts are clean, air flows through them smoothly. When ducts are overly dirty, all of the debris built up inside of them creates resistance that prevents the air from flowing as smoothly and quickly as it needs to for the HVAC system to work effectively.

The amount of resistance there is to the air flowing through a duct system is known as static pressure. HVAC systems also work most efficiently and cool and heat most effectively when the static pressure is as low as possible. When the static pressure is higher, it makes it more difficult for the HVAC system to circulate air. This results in the system not being able to cool or heat as quickly, resulting in decreased efficiency and increased energy consumption. It also leads to increased wear and tear since the HVAC system has to run more than it would if it were operating at its peak level of efficiency.

Similarly, an HVAC system that isn’t functioning as effectively as it should can have a negative impact on home comfort. That’s because it can result in your home frequently feeling hotter or colder than you want. You’ll also often end up with hot and/or cold spots in your home since dirty ductwork can prevent every room from receiving adequate airflow.

Another issue with dirty ductwork is that it often leads to a home smelling dirty and musty. You’ll also often end up with your home being much dustier and needing to be cleaned more often. This is simply because your HVAC system will continually blow out lots of the dust that collects inside the supply ducts into every room whenever it runs.

How Often Should You Have Your Ducts Cleaned?

Most experts say that you should have your ductwork professionally cleaned around every three to five years. While regular duct cleaning is important, there are also some specific situations where it’s definitely worth having your ducts cleaned. One situation is when moving into a home since you usually have no way to know when the last time the ducts were cleaned or if they’ve ever been cleaned. We’d also recommend getting your ducts cleaned if you recently had your home built, put an addition onto it or did any renovations or remodeling. The reason is that construction creates a lot of dust, and at least some of the dust will inevitably end up getting inside your ducts.

Another situation where we’d recommend scheduling a professional duct cleaning service is after dealing with any type of pest infestation in your home. As we said, pests are notorious for nesting and living inside air ducts. That means that there’s a decent chance of nesting materials, urine, feces and potentially even dead animals inside some of your ducts.

An Overview of How Professional Duct Cleaning Works

While you can vacuum or clean out the inside of all of the vents in your home, there is really no way you can effectively clean your ducts themselves. The only way to effectively clean all of the ducts in a home is to seal the ductwork system off and then attach a powerful industrial vacuum to the system. In some cases, an HVAC company may instead use a special vacuum truck and run a hose from the truck inside. Either way, all of the dust and debris gets collected by the vacuum to ensure that the process doesn’t create a mess inside the home.

Sealing off the system allows the vacuum to create negative air pressure so that it can easily suck all of the debris out of each duct branch and the main duct trunk. The other reason that all of the vents need to be sealed is to prevent dust from getting spread throughout the house while the ducts are being cleaned.

The vacuum is usually attached by cutting a small hole somewhere in the duct system. However, depending on the layout of the duct system and how big it is, the technician may instead attach the vacuum to a vent. In this case, they will usually need to go around the house and attach it to different vents one by one to ensure that the entire ductwork system gets fully cleaned. The technician will usually clean out the supply and return ducts separately to prevent dust and debris from getting drawn into the air handler compartment and also the furnace if the home has one.

Before attaching the vacuum, the technician will usually use a special rotating brush to loosen up all of the dust and debris in each section of the ductwork. This is important since debris can get stuck to the inside of the ducts, which can make it impossible for the vacuum to suck everything out.

In some cases, the technician may also use a camera to first inspect inside the ducts just to check for any issues like mold. This inspection is also important for checking that the ductwork is properly sealed and doesn’t have any holes or gaps. This is because any holes or gaps will prevent the vacuum from creating the pressure it needs for the process to work effectively and also because holes will cause dust to spread around the house.

Since 2009, Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Restoration has been helping residents throughout the Boca Raton area with their home comfort and indoor air quality needs. We specialize in duct cleaning as well as the full range of indoor air quality, air conditioning and plumbing services. For more information on the ways duct cleaning can benefit your home or AC maintenance, contact us today.

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