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Should You Have Your AC Ducts Cleaned?

Should You Have Your AC Ducts Cleaned?

Should You Have Your AC Ducts Cleaned?

Most HVAC contractors recommend AC duct cleaning, although not as frequently as HVAC inspections and tune-ups, which should be done every year (in the spring for your AC and in the fall for your heater). Various contaminants can build up in your ductwork. These include dust, dirt, pet dander, pollen, mold, bacteria, and chemicals, which can be health hazards if they circulate in your home. That’s not pleasant to think about, but when should you have your AC ducts cleaned?

Many factors help determine if and when to clean air ducts. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends annual inspections and that AC ducts be cleaned as necessary.1 Some industry experts suggest professional duct cleanings every three to five years. However, this all depends on your home and HVAC system. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also provides info on duct cleaning.

What Does the EPA Say About AC Duct Cleaning?

Duct cleaning involves cleaning the supply and return air ducts. It also entails cleaning registers, grilles, and diffusers, as well as other parts of your HVAC system. Evaporator and condenser coils, heat exchangers, drain pans, air handlers, and fan motors/housings are cleaned during the process. Any contamination can cause these components to work less effectively and wear out prematurely (it can also cause indoor air pollution).

However, the EPA admits there’s no proof duct cleaning prevents health problems or reduces dust or particle levels in homes. There are many sources of contamination. Particulates can enter your home from outdoors or be released by activities within, such as cleaning, cooking, or smoking. Just moving around your home can release contaminants into the air.

Reasons to Consider Having Your AC Ducts Cleaned

Nevertheless, there are some reasons you should clean your air ducts. One reason to consider an AC duct cleaning is if the system has never been cleaned. Dirt can build up after several years, so at least consider a ductwork inspection. Here are other signs to think about hiring a duct cleaning service:

  • Mold: If you see mold around vents, chances are it’s in your ductwork too. Schedule an inspection to evaluate areas of your ductwork that aren’t easily accessible. Contractors use technologies that allow them to see remote sections. A substance that looks like mold should be tested to verify what it is. They’ll also check for and correct other issues that may be causing the mold to grow.
  • Dusty or Dirty Vents/Registers: Contaminants that flow in and out of your ductwork tend to get caught on vent grills and build up. They can make your home dusty and worsen allergies and respiratory conditions. Severely blocked vents can also restrict airflow and impede the performance of your HVAC system.
  • High Energy Bills: Consider an AC duct cleaning if your energy bills have been steadily climbing. If dust and dirt coat the inside of ducts, your HVAC system will struggle to circulate air and use more energy. A duct leak can also increase energy consumption by allowing air to escape through holes, gaps, and cracks in ductwork. Sealing these can save energy, as can cleaning ducts.
  • Pest Infestations: If air ducts are infested with rodents or insects, they may bring all kinds of debris in (from feeding, nesting, etc.). Waste products and deceased animals can cause clogs, odors, and health hazards. An HVAC contractor should take any corrective measures necessary if your ductwork is infested by pests.
  • Renovations: Dust and debris from construction can get trapped inside your ductwork. A reputable contractor will close off work areas and clean up. However, even the most careful measures can’t avoid duct contamination 100%. If your home was recently remodeled or renovated, schedule an AC duct cleaning to ensure no dirt and toxins are present.

Considerations and Myths

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding duct cleaning. While there are benefits, knowing its limitations can help determine if your air ducts should be cleaned and inspected. AC duct cleaning:

  • Doesn’t Address All Airflow Issues: Duct cleaning only resolves airflow issues due to settled particles. If poor airflow is due to an issue with duct design, a breach in a duct, or an imbalance, other steps must be taken to resolve these problems.
  • Doesn’t Resolve the Causes of Odors and Mold: Cleaning ducts and treating them with an antimicrobial spray only have temporary results if the source of the problem isn’t resolved. Pet dander, mold growth, moisture, rodents, and poor duct sealing in the attic or crawlspace are just some sources that require additional solutions.
  • Can Potentially Damage Your Ductwork: A common belief is duct cleaning won’t damage ductwork. However, there are risks if you have flexible ducts with fragile plastic surrounding a metal spring. Solid corrugated ducts covered by insulation beneath an outside cover and rigid ducting made of solid sheet metal are more resistant to damage. But always consult a professional instead of taking risks with DIY work.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Find a Duct Cleaning Company?

You can contact NADCA for information on service providers. It’s best to consult with three different companies and get an estimate from each before choosing one. Look for EPA-certified contractors and beware of any that make unreasonable claims about the benefits of AC duct cleaning

Also, check customer references to determine their level of satisfaction and with a local consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Also, verify the contractor has a state license.

When Do I Know to Call for Duct Cleaning?

How frequently your AC ducts should be cleaned depends on many factors. Have your air ducts cleaned more often if:

  • You have pets that often shed their hair.
  • People in your home smoke.
  • Members of your household have allergies or asthma.
  • Water has contaminated your HVAC system.
  • Your home was recently renovated.

How Much Does AC Duct Cleaning Cost?

Duct cleaning usually costs from $450 to $1,000.2 However, the cost can vary significantly depending on the size of the system, how accessible components are, how much contamination there is, and the climate you live in.

How Long Does Duct Cleaning Take?

The length of time duct cleaning takes varies considerably. Cleaning a small system can take as little as an hour. More likely, you can expect the job to take two to three hours. But larger, more contaminated systems can take five hours to up to a full day to clean.

Can I Prevent Duct Contamination?

To prevent or reduce the risk of duct contamination:

  • Use a high-efficiency air filter and change HVAC filters regularly. 
  • Dust and vacuum your home often.
  • Make sure a maintenance technician cleans the coils and drain pan. 
  • Promptly fix water leaks and water damage.
  • Seal registers during construction or renovation work. 
  • Seal/insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces.
  • Selecting a replacement AC unit of the proper size.

Contact Monarch Home Services for AC Duct Cleaning

Aside from ensuring your home comfort, Monarch Home Services is just as committed to improving indoor air quality. Our NATE- and EPA-certified HVAC technicians provide high-quality duct cleaning services for homeowners in the San Joaquin Valley. They can determine if your ductwork needs to be cleaned, decontaminate air ducts, and address other issues if necessary. To schedule an AC duct cleaning in Fresno, Bakersfield, or surrounding areas, call (661) 215-6657 today.




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