As we explained in yesterday''s post, it is very important that the duct cleaning process is done correctly by a professional. We are explaining this process so you can understand what the professional is doing in your home. Please DO NOT take this on as a DIY project.
Duct cleaning services vary from provider to provider although industry associations have established some standards. In most cases, a service provider will:
- Dislodge dirt and debris in the ducts with specialized tools.
- Use a high powered vacuum to collect the loosened debris.
Some service providers may propose the use of chemical biocides and a “sealant” for preventative care. The chemical biocides are used to kill bacteria, fungi (mold) and prevent future biological growth. The "sealants" are used to prevent dust and dirt particles from being released into the air or to seal air leaks. Please take the time to understand the pros and cons of each of these chemicals as neither have been fully tested and there has been no research to test the health consequences of exposure to them.
Note: Applying the above sealants is not the same as sealing air duct leaks. Sealing air duct leaks can help save energy on heating and cooling bills. To learn more about sealing air duct leaks, check out this week’s post on Temperature Talk.
Whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, the best way to minimize duct contamination is preventative maintenance. To prevent dirt from entering the system, follow these suggestions designed by the EPA:
- Use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.
- Change filters regularly.
- If your filters become clogged, change them more frequently.
- Be sure you do not have any missing filters and that air cannot bypass filters through gaps around the filter holder.
- During construction or renovation work that produces dust in your home, seal off supply and return registers and do not operate the heating and cooling system until after cleaning up the dust.
- Remove dust and vacuum your home regularly. (Use a high efficiency vacuum (HEPA) cleaner or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum cleaner can take. Vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air during and after vacuuming as well as in your ducts).
- If your heating system includes in-duct humidification equipment, be sure to operate and maintain the humidifier strictly as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Promptly and properly repair any leaks or water damage.
- Pay particular attention to cooling coils, which are designed to remove water from the air and can be a major source of moisture contamination of the system that can lead to mold growth. Make sure the condensate pan drains properly. The presence of substantial standing water and/or debris indicates a problem requiring immediate attention. Check any insulation near cooling coils for wet spots.
- Make sure ducts are properly sealed and insulated in all non-air-conditioned spaces (e.g., attics and crawl spaces).
- If you are replacing your air conditioning system, make sure that the unit is the proper size for your needs and that all ducts are sealed at the joints.