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
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
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
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
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
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.