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Does Air Duct Cleaning Help?

Indoor Air Quality Problems
 
Faced with the importance of indoor air quality, people are looking at air duct cleaning as a way to solve indoor air quality problems. Is air duct cleaning a solution?

Heating and cooling system components can become contaminated with pollen, dust, mold, and other debris if not properly installed and maintained. These contaminants may cause allergic reactions in some sensitive people.

The first step to consider before having the ducts cleaned is if they are the source of health problems. Keep in mind, the source of the problem may be elsewhere and cleaning the ducts may not be the answer.

What Does Duct Cleaning Entail?

Duct cleaning entails cleaning the various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems. These components include the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing. If the decision is made to have the system cleaned, it is important the service provider cleans all the components so the system will not become contaminated again by unclean parts.

The service provider should take preventative steps to protect individuals from exposure to dislodged contaminants during the cleaning process. These steps may include using HEPA filtration on the cleaning equipment, providing respirators for workers, and vacating the occupants from the premises while the system is cleaned.

Signs Ducts Should Be Cleaned

There are several factors that help determine if the duct system should be cleaned. One major factor is mold growth that is visible inside hard surface ducts or on other components of your system. Be aware that although a substance may look like mold, it may not be. Only a laboratory analysis can tell you whether a sample is mold or simply a substance that resembles it. If the air duct insulation is moldy it should be removed and replaced and the cause of the growth corrected before the cleaning occurs.

Other factors include rodent or insect infestation and a clogged system that actually releases contaminants into the home through the registers.

Risk Factors

If proper duct cleaning procedures are not followed, duct cleaning can cause more dust, debris, and molds to be released into the air. An inadequate vacuum collection system can cause this problem. Also, there is the possibility the service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, which could result in increasing heating and air conditioning costs or costly repairs or replacements.

The EPA Recommendations

According to the (EPA), duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Also studies do not conclusively demonstrate that contaminant levels increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning.

Except on an as-needed basis, the EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned.

Contact a professional if you think duct cleaning might be a good idea for your home, but keep in mind, the EPA does not establish duct cleaning standards, and does not certify, endorse, or approve duct cleaning companies.

Unless you fully understand the pros and the cons of chemical biocides or sealants do not allow the use of them.

As with any professional, check references thoroughly to be sure other customers were satisfied and did not experience any problems with their heating and cooling system after cleaning.

 

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