Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a seasonal promotion from a local HVAC company or your mother-in-law chided you about your current housekeeping routines. No matter how it came up, air duct cleaning is an oft-forgotten task that goes untended year after year. Many homeowners wonder whether cleaning their air ducts annually is even necessary.
After all, does it provide any real benefit to the home?
Some homeowners will notice an immediate difference in the air quality of their home following a thorough duct cleaning. Others may not really see the initial benefit of this add-on service. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to hire a professional service to clean your air ducts, you should consider these major benefits for the upcoming season.
What happens during a duct cleaning?
Before we can really move onto the major benefits inherent to cleaning your air ducts, you should be aware of the actual process. Not everyone is really sure what “cleaning the air ducts” means.
Cleaning your air ducts is a good idea to help maintain the overall functioning of your heating and cooling system. During this time, a professional is likely to clean out your actual air ducts and registers, as well as some of the secondary aspects of your system. For example, they may clean drip pans, the fan motor, and the heat exchangers or cooling coils.
You should ask in advance if the company you hire plans to apply any chemical biocides into your ductwork. These chemicals are often applied to help prevent or kill mold growth, as well as other types of bacteria. Allergy sufferers may benefit from this step if it kills symptom-causing bacteria. However, you may want to take note if you happen to be sensitive to the initial application of certain chemicals.
If you subscribe to a regular maintenance plan for your HVAC system throughout the year, it may be a good idea to talk with your local company about adding duct cleaning to your plan. While cleaning some of these important aspects of your air conditioner or furnace, a technician may also be able to note areas that will need future repairs.
Only allow a qualified technician to move or clean the various inner workings of your machines. An improper cleaning could result in high repair bills in the very near future if something is disassembled or broken during the cleaning.
Do you really need your air ducts cleaned?
The truth is that not many people will have their air ducts cleaned on a regular basis. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that there are only a few conditions under which duct cleaning should be considered an absolute necessity:
- Visible mold growth inside hard surface ducts
- Vermin infestation in the ductwork
- Clogged ducts as a result of dust, debris, or other particles
If you find that your home meets any of these three criteria, cleaning your air ducts is a must. Homeowners who notice these issues appearing on a regular basis need to determine the actual cause of the problem and address it before the air ducts are cleaned. Without professional attention and correction, you’re likely to experience the same problem again in the very near future.
Take a look inside your air ducts to determine if you have any of these problems. You should be able to quickly identify any of these three issues with the naked eye. During your inspection, you may also find that there is an extreme odor in the ductwork. This smell should be a cause for concern, even if you don’t see any tangible signs of the above three symptoms.
Individuals who suffer from extreme allergies or unexplained illnesses may want to consider getting a duct cleaning, even if a visual inspection doesn’t indicate any issues. While it may not make a difference, this could help to alleviate some of your symptoms.
Other homeowners may opt for the service simply as a form of preventative maintenance.
Benefits of Air Duct Cleaning
Now that you know what air duct cleaning entails and when you should do it, it’s time to take a closer look at the overall benefits. Here are the top five reasons why all homeowners should really consider making duct cleaning a part of their HVAC maintenance routine.
Relief from Environmental Allergies
The air from your air conditioning unit or furnace is ultimately delivered to the key areas of your home via the ductwork. The return air is filtered through the same system, which means that all of the average pollutants of the house are now living in your ductwork. These can include common particles and contaminants like pet dander, dust, and chemical residue from household activities.
The air is continuously circulated throughout the home, which means that you may be exposing yourself to excess allergens. Individuals who have a lot of respiratory problems or are prone to allergic reactions may feel more comfortable when the air ducts are clean.
The Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t directly concluded that dirty ductwork is necessarily related to poor indoor air quality. However, it could be beneficial to clean the ducts and remove common allergens and irritants if you are susceptible to some unexplained allergy symptoms.
Improves Efficiency of the HVAC System
The build-up from continuous exposure to dust, pet dander, and other contaminants can eventually clog the pathways for the air to circulate in your home. When the air flow is restricted throughout the HVAC system, your air conditioner and furnace will have to work overtime to force new air into your home and maintain an optimal temperature.
When the ductwork is cleaned on a regular basis, there’s less interference for air to enter the main living areas of your home. Your HVAC system will get a break when it comes to its usual workload, which can mean savings on your monthly heating and cooling costs. This puts a little extra cash back in your wallet to offset the initial cost of paying to have the ductwork cleaned.
However, it can also save you money on repair costs over time. A system that runs efficiently all the time has less wear and tear that can shorten the lifespan of the entire unit or its parts. You’ll save more money both immediately and in the long run with cleaner ductwork.
Improves the Smell of Your Home
Have you noticed that your home has a weird or musty odor to it lately? Homeowners who have a relatively reasonable housekeeping routine may not be able to find an identifiable cause for the odor in their home. You may not be quite so quick to point the finger at your Golden Retriever or your teenage son if you took a closer look at your ductwork.
The build-up of different chemicals or even mold growth in the air ducts can eventually influence the overall scent of your home. Cleaning the ductwork can eliminate the cause of the odor and make your house smell instantly fresher for months to come. Of course, you will need to remove the source of these odor-causing agents if you want to truly maintain this fresh-smelling home.
Reduce Your Housekeeping
Dusting your home is a part of life, no matter how clean your air ducts are. If you have extremely dirty ductwork, the dust in your home may be almost overwhelming. You could find yourself dusting furniture multiple times each week just to keep up with the constant barrage of dust that accumulates when the HVAC system is running.
When you can clear out some of the dust that rests in your ductwork, you are contributing a cleaner home for the future. You’ll have fewer mundane household chores to consider when your ductwork is no longer contributing to the overall filth of your home.
Improve Your Health
Even if you don’t suffer from allergies, clogged ductwork could be harboring harmful bacteria that are lowering your immune system. Lingering colds, coughs, stuffy noses, or unexplained congestion could all be symptoms that you’re being exposed to something harmful in your daily environment.
While the research is still growing to determine the exact role that ductwork plays in indoor air quality, it’s clear that it could be a significant source of health issues. Ultimately, you may want to take a chance on getting these cleaned to see if it helps to eradicate any lingering sickness in your home. You may just save a ton of money on future doctor’s bills.
Air duct cleaning may not be an absolute necessity for every home, but it certainly comes with plenty of benefits. If you think that you could benefit from this routine service, contact your local air conditioning technician today to see how quickly you could start to reap these significant benefits.