When we talk about HVAC maintenance, it is logical for people to assume that it would also cover the cleaning of the air ducts. Their assumption is based on the fact that ductwork is a critical component of the HVAC system. Nevertheless, the ducts are never a part of the scheduled maintenance. So the main concern that arises and logically so is – “Is professional duct cleaning really necessary?”
Why Consider Air Duct Cleaning?
With the passage of time, air ducts become dirty. As it is, the ducts are a part of your home even if you can’t see them. Therefore, you may consider getting them cleaned every few years. The ducts are fragile. Consequently, they need to be handled with care. Also, the cleaning should be done correctly so that there is no need to get it done frequently. As of today, there is no proof whatsoever that duct cleaning can be detrimental.
What Does the US EPA Have To Say About It?
Speaking specifically of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), there is no need to clean the ducts routinely. This activity should only be carried out as needed. The EPA explicitly recommends a fuel-burning stove, fireplace, or furnace in your residence should be inspected for correct performance. Their maintenance should also be carried out in a timely manner to rule out any chances of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Furthermore, EPA says, “Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning. This is because much of the dirt that may accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space”.
Why Is Routine Duct Cleaning Not Necessary?
Indeed, duct cleaning is not a mandatory activity. Nonetheless, it is not totally without its advantages. Here are a few benefits of duct cleaning which you may have not even thought about:
1. Eliminates Infestation – If there are mice or any other kind of vermin infestation in the ducts, you can get rid of them through duct cleaning. These little pests can also damage the ducts by chewing through them. Some even die inside the ducts, and their bodies rot inside, leading to offensive odors. Duct cleaning will get rid of these small animals and also remove any signs of infestation from inside the ducts.
2. Gets Rid Of Mold – Often, mold grows inside the ducts. The warm, dark, and moist interiors of ductwork present an ideal setting for its growth and proliferation. Mold is a health hazard so big that it reduces the property value. Some types of mold are more dangerous than others but all present danger. In such cases, duct cleaning gets rid of mold and mold spores. Hence, your house becomes safer, and if you are planning to sell the dwelling, you no longer have to compromise on its cost.
If you suspect the presence of any, or even both these conditions, in your residence, you will benefit from a round of professional duct cleaning. But cleaning only to get rid of the dust and dirt will serve no real purpose. Unless the accumulation has become so massive, it is now more of obstruction and impeding the free flow of air.
The only time you need to clean the air ducts is when they are contaminated. When the air ducts are cleaned, the complete HVAC system requires cleaning. It is because the system comes in contact with the air moving through the contaminated ducts, thereby risking the contamination of the system itself. This is also the philosophy followed by the National Air Ducts Cleaning Association (NADCA).
Beware Of Duct Cleaning Scams
Many self-proclaimed duct cleaners will show you before and after pics of dirty air ducts to woo you into accepting their cleaning proposal. You can quickly identify these scam artists by paying attention to a few critical points, like:
1. They will typically quote a figure much lower than the industry standard.
2. They will make false claims of being certified by the EPA where the truth is EPA does not provide any such certification.
3. Some will claim that they found mold in your house. They might be correct, but typically, someone who is out to scam you will make this claim before delving deep into the ducts. If there were mold, you would have seen some sign of it on the vents.
4. These people will not have the license to operate in the state.
5. They will also not have the necessary industrial-grade equipment required to clean the ductwork. Do remember one cannot clean the ducts with the regular household cleaning supplies and equipment.
Convincing the homeowner to agree to air duct cleaning is more of an emotional sell. The easiest way to make anyone agree to it is by playing on their fear of inhaling polluted air. All a scammer has to do is show images of dreadfully dirty ducts and plant the seed of doubt in your mind. It gets the innocent homeowners thinking their ducts could be equally filthy. You can rest assured it takes years of neglect for build-ups like those. At best, all you need to do is schedule professional cleaning of the ducts every four to five years. Even then, it is your wish, and there is no compulsion.
The only thing to take care of while considering air duct cleaning is that the ducts are fragile. Hence, whenever you think of cleaning them, engage the services of a professional duct cleaner only. Please refrain from going for a cheap cleaner. The chances are extremely high they will only do a substandard job and, in that too, may land up damaging your ducts. Finally, whether to get the ducts cleaned and when to get them cleaned is a choice that only the homeowner has the right to make. Since we have armed you with all the facts, it should not be a hard decision to make.