10 Jun 11 Things to Know About Cleaning AC Ducts
1: There are health benefits.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and very small particles of dust. The removal of such contaminants from the HVAC system and home should be considered as one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality.
2: It can reduce your energy bill.
Research by the U.S. EPA has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more effectively by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
3: Not all cleaning methods are created equal.
The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ Source Removal methods of cleaning. This requires us to place the system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum.
While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces. The debris can then travel down the ducts to the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home.
4: There are 2 types of vacuums to consider.
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) does not endorse one kind of equipment over another. There are two main types of vacuum collection devices:
(1) those mounted on trucks and trailers, and
(2) portable units.
We use portable units that can be brought directly into a facility, allowing the vacuum source to be located closer to the ductwork. Both types of equipment will clean to NADCA standards.
All vacuum units should be attached to a collection device for safe containment prior to disposal. Any vacuum collection device which exhausts indoors must be HEPA (high efficiency particulate arrestance) filtered.
A vacuum collection device alone will not get an HVAC system clean. The use of methods and tools designed to agitate debris adhered to the surfaces within the system, in conjunction with the use of the vacuum collection device is required to clean HVAC systems.
5: How often to clean varies.
Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the home owner. Some of the things that may lead a home owner to consider more frequent cleaning include:
- Smokers in the household
- Pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander
- Water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system
- Residents with allergies or asthma who might benefit from a reduction in the amount of
- indoor air pollutants in the home’s HVAC system
- After home renovations or remodeling
- Prior to occupancy of a new home
6: Pricing for professional cleaning ranges depending on size of system.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that “duct cleaning services typically, but not always, range in cost from $450 to $1000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climatic region, and level of contamination” and type of duct material.
7: Things to look at when hiring an HVAC contractor.
Interview as many contractors as you can and ask them to come to your home to perform a system inspection and give you a quotation. To narrow down your pool of potential contractors, use the following pre-qualifications:
- Make sure the company is a member in good standing of the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) and is certified to perform HVAC system cleaning.
- See if the company has been in business long enough to have adequate experience.
- Inquire whether the company is in good standing with your local Better Business Bureau.
- Get proof that the company is properly licensed and adequately insured.
- Make sure the company is going to clean and visually inspect all of the air ducts and related system components.
- Avoid advertisements for “$99 whole house specials” and other sales gimmicks.
- Ask if the company has the right equipment to effectively perform cleaning, and if the company has done work in homes similar to yours.
- Get references from neighbors if possible.
8: Hiring an NADCA member matters.
National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) Members have signed a Code of Ethics stating they will do everything possible to protect the consumer, and follow NADCA Standards for cleaning to the best of their ability.
Air duct cleaning companies must meet stringent requirements to become a NADCA Member. Among those requirements, all NADCA Members must have certified Air System Cleaning Specialists (ASCS) on staff, which have taken and passed the NADCA Certification Examination. Passing the exam demonstrates extensive knowledge in HVAC design and cleaning methodologies.
ASCS’s are also required to further their industry education by attending seminars in order to maintain their NADCA certification status.
9: Sanitizers in cleaning bring added benefits of their own.
Sanitizers are anti-microbial chemicals applied to the interior surface of the air ducts, designed to control microbial contamination. Before any sanitizers are used, the system should be thoroughly cleaned.
It is critical that any anti-microbial treatment used in your system be EPA registered for intended use in HVAC systems. Ask to see the chemical’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). If you are still concerned, call the EPA.
It should be noted that there are no EPA registered anti-microbial products for use on pourus system surfaces – such as fiberglass surfaces.
10: A proper cleaning can be done in less than a day.
There are a variety of factors that could affect the time needed to clean a residential HVAC system, including the type of home, accessibility of the ductwork, and the number of workers on the project. A typical three or four bedroom home will require 4 to 8 hours for cleaning.
11: You’ll get immediately visible results.
The best way to determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective is to perform a visual inspection of the system before and after cleaning. If any dust or debris can be seen during the visual inspection, the system should not be considered cleaned.
While you can perform your own visual inspection using a flash light and mirror, a professional cleaning contractor should be able to allow you better access to system components and perhaps the use of specialized inspection tools.
Located in South Florida? Request a service call for our team to clean your air ducts.