Opinions on how often air ducts need cleaning are mixed. For example, a new home heating and cooling system is unlikely to have a build-up of mold or dust and may not require cleaning for some years. On the other hand, old HVAC equipment or a location near an industrial estate may be exposed to elevated dust and contaminants, and annual cleaning is justified. Here are seven air duct cleaning questions, answered to give you the information to decide when services are needed.
1. Do Air Ducts Need Annual Cleaning?
The answer to this is — it depends. Deciding how often to have your air ducts maintained depends on the level of contaminants in your system. If pollutants have built to a high level, there can be health implications in breathing poor-quality air. An annual HVAC inspection should highlight any ducting issues that justify cleaning.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has examined the issue of air duct maintenance and has fallen short of recommending that annual cleaning is necessary. However, the agency has delivered some guidance on instances when servicing is indicated.
2. Does the Presence of Mold Justify Air Duct Cleaning?
This is undoubtedly an instance where servicing is necessary. If mold or fungi have found a suitable nook or cranny to lodge and grow, the problem will likely continue and could expand rapidly. Spores can be blown through the ducts into rooms, lowering air quality and causing health problems.
It can be difficult for you as a homeowner to view any mold, as parts of the system aren’t easily accessible. Technicians use specialized equipment to view inside the HVAC ducts. Ask the technicians to show where mold is present if you have any doubts.
3. How Can I Tell if Mold is Really Growing in the HVAC Air Ducts?
Substances like stains or debris may give the appearance of mold, though they are relatively harmless. For a reasonably small charge (under $100), you can get a sample vetted by a microbiology laboratory and confirm its exact nature. If the result shows a harmless element, you may save unnecessary air duct cleaning costs.
4. If Mold is Present, How are Insulated Ducts Cleaned?
Unfortunately, cleaning is impossible when the insulation material has become wet and then moldy. The insulation should be removed and then a new product inserted. You should make sure that the cause of the moisture and mold entering the HVAC has been identified and repairs made before replacing the insulation.
5. What Do I Do If there are Pests or Vermin in the Air Duct?
It’s bye-bye pests time. If you’ve heard animal noises or noticed an odor of rodents or insect droppings, the pests must be expelled. Either call in a pest controller or see whether local air duct cleaners will get rid of the wildlife and then clean the air ducts. Of course, you will want thorough air duct cleaning after dealing with this problem.
6. Is Visible Dirt and Grime Normal?
If heavy dust and grime are clinging to air vents, then this is probably a good time to consider getting the HVAC ducts cleaned. Continual build-up of dirt will affect air quality in your home, interfering with airflow through the system. In turn, the build-up will make the system work harder, becoming less efficient and raising your energy bills.
7. Should I Allow Chemical Biocides to be Applied in the Air Ducts?
After cleaning mold out of your HVAC, some service providers may want to apply a chemical biocide to destroy any residual spores and stop future infestations. There are pros and cons to the use of these types of substances, and you should judge their use in regard to the circumstances applying in your home. Any potential toxicity should be carefully assessed. However, there are EPA-approved disinfectants and mold-destroying products that should be relatively safe to use.
Local Air Duct Cleaners in Northern Virginia
If you’ve had to ask any of the above questions about your HVAC, then your system is probably overdue for air duct cleaning. At Six Penny Chimney, we provide thorough expert cleaning using Power Vac trucks with industrial strength equipment. After we vacuum dirt, grime, and biological substances out of your ducts, we then use additional tools to remove any clinging substances. Your HVAC will be fresh as a daisy when we’re finished.
If you’re a Northern Virginia resident, get in touch for a free no-obligation quote on air duct servicing. We can also look after your chimney and fireplace inspections, repairs, and any chimney sweeping needs.