Tag Archive for: air duct cleaning

Living room with proper heating and AC maintenance done to ensure safety for homeowners

Heating & AC Maintenance Facts Homeowners Should Know

Your comfortable home environment depends on your HVAC operating effectively during every season it’s needed. Regular maintenance is vital to have your system working at peak efficiency. For most people, the HVAC equipment’s complexity means they rely on qualified technicians to perform this work. But what should you expect from maintenance technicians, and how often should you schedule them? See these crucial heating and air conditioning maintenance facts homeowners should know.

Air Filters

Regularly changing or cleaning air filters for heating or cooling equipment is a primary maintenance task. It’s the single most effective heating and AC conditioning maintenance job you can do to keep your indoor air at a high-quality level.

Changing air filters is also relatively easy for most homeowners to do on their own. It’s not highly technical; it just relies on knowing which specific air filter to purchase and finding where it is located in your equipment. In most cases, you should be able to simply slide out or click the existing filter and install a new one in the same manner.

The type of filter and its location should be detailed in the user manual or technical specification accompanying your equipment purchase. If your equipment was installed before purchasing your home, an online search will probably retrieve the needed instructions. Or you can always contact the relevant call center to get the details.

Inspection and Detection

When an HVAC service call is scheduled, you should expect your technicians to provide you with a comprehensive list detailing the equipment inspection tasks. They should also discuss any minor repairs you can expect as part of the service call. For example, whether ductwork will be sealed where gaps have been detected or exactly what air duct cleaning will entail. Ensure you also discuss any concerns with them about odors, noises, or poor air flow that you’ve noticed.

Ask to have a look at the technicians’ checklist and see that it covers the following:

  • Thermostat testing
  • Checking and replacing air filters
  • Airflow tests
  • Checking the levels of refrigerant
  • Inspecting equipment connection points
  • Testing electrical connections
  • Examining blower mechanisms
  • Lubrication, tightening, and sealing of connection points and moving parts
  • Looking at drain lines and water collection pans
  • Identifying and notifying any pests or contaminants that have taken up residence in the ductwork, and
  • Reporting on the general condition of the system.

An important outcome of the final report is to give the owner a heads-up on the expected remaining life of the equipment. Any hint of equipment failure that may happen in the future without replacement or major repair is also helpful. Better to be prepared and have money set aside for such eventualities.

Some Common Problems to Focus On

HVAC equipment has some common fail points, mainly when heating and AC maintenance has been irregular. These include leaks in connector and drain lines and corrosion of metal parts where moisture accumulates, such as connecting wires.

AC units can often develop faults in circuit breakers or fuses. If airflow becomes a problem, check that the space around the unit is clear and open. Furniture or household items may have been inadvertently misplaced and be a hindrance.

Furnaces can fail for several reasons; thermostats malfunction, ignition switches fail, and blower motors stop. If a furnace is not pumping out heat in its usual manner, often the culprit is dirty filters hindering the free flow of air.

Scheduling Heating and AC Maintenance

Most maintenance plans for HVAC equipment include two service calls each year. One service will focus on inspecting, servicing, and any necessary repairs on the air conditioning equipment. Scheduling should be planned so that all work is done well before the hot weather begins. Similarly, the heating component will be serviced before cold weather sets in.

With a set maintenance plan, you minimize the worry of anything going wrong with your equipment when needed most during the peak of summer or winter. It’s not worth skipping maintenance even if you think you can get by for a year. Little problems can quickly turn into severe ones in a heavily used HVAC system.

Of course, an annual service will be satisfactory if you only have an air conditioner or a heating component.

HVAC Cleaning Services in Northern Virginia

Six Penny Chimney in Northern Virginia has an intimate understanding of the local weather and the impacts on your heating and cooling systems. We provide expert maintenance for chimneys, fireplaces, gutters, furnace flues, and HVAC ductwork. Book your service with us today

Clean air ducts in a well-lit and clean building hallway

7 Common Air Duct Cleaning Questions Answered

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.

7 Seasonal Maintenance Calls You Should Make Before the Snow Falls this Winter

Get ready for winter by ensuring your home can withstand whatever the worst of the season throws at it. Is your HVAC ready to face extended chilly weather and heavy snowfalls? Are your roof and guttering able to withstand fierce winds and heavy rain? Here are seven seasonal maintenance calls you should make before this winter to protect your home.

1 Air Duct Cleaning

First off, consider your HVAC and whether the air ducts are due for a cleaning. Generally, this should be done every two years. Cleaning the ducts improves air quality in the home. It also helps with the efficiency of the overall HVAC system, reducing energy costs. Call in qualified HVAC technicians for this task and get them to clean the dryer vent as well.

2 Chimney Sweeping — an Essential Seasonal Maintenance Call Before Winter 

Your fireplace needs to be in prime condition for the long winter ahead. Any creosote build-up should be swept away before fires are lit. Otherwise, there is a danger that the chimney will catch fire. Creosote removal is best left to professional chimney sweeps to handle. They will check the fireplace and chimney for any damage or blockages and thoroughly clean the flues.

You’ll want to tick this maintenance call off long before frosty days begin, and you want to start lighting fires. Once the winter chill sets in, the demand for chimney cleaners will increase, and you may have trouble scheduling service when you want it.

3 Furnace Inspection and Cleaning

One of your seasonal maintenance calls before winter must include a check and clean of the furnace. As the Department of Energy states — properly maintaining and upgrading heating systems will save you money and increase comfort within the home. Get a qualified HVAC technician to do this task. They will check furnace parts, including the blower, heat pump, fans, humidifier, and thermostat.

This may be a good time to consider installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one. You can reduce the temperature as needed and save more on energy costs.

4 Gutter Cleaning and Replacement

Walk around your home and look at the guttering. What state are they in? Do they look like they can face up to heavy rainfalls, or are they likely to come away from the house due to missing screws, rust, or damaged parts? When was the last time you had leaves and debris removed? Call in dependable technicians to inspect, clean, and repair loose guttering.  If your budget permits, consider installing gutter guards, as they will eliminate debris falling into the gutters.

5 Insulation and Weatherstripping

Check all your doors and windows for drafts. Look for any gaps that show daylight. The amount of heat escaping from small cracks is quite extraordinary. It can make a significant difference to home heating energy costs. Fix this problem with caulk or weather stripping as needed. If you’re not the handy type, well, that’s why handymen exist.

If you’re fighting a losing battle due to old degrading window frames, consider upgrading to newer energy-efficient windows with low-maintenance frames. New windows can make a dramatic improvement to room heating needs.

If you don’t have adequate insulation in the roof, now is an excellent time to upgrade, ensuring better heat retention over the winter season.

6 Roof Inspection and Repairs

Another of your necessary seasonal maintenance calls before winter is to schedule a roof inspection. Major storms and strong winds blowing away loose tiles, shingles, or other roof fixtures can create havoc. Small leaks can turn into large and cause internal damage to the home interior. Roof vents should also be looked at for deterioration, along with metal flashing.

7 Masonry Work

The last item on your scheduled maintenance call list is to have your paving, walkways, and other outdoor structures checked. Are there any loose pavers likely to become a hazard in icy and rainy conditions? Has mortar crumbled and dislodged from a retaining wall, causing you to wonder whether it will be able to withstand a major storm? Has there been damage to the chimney? Such problems should be easy to spot by a simple walk around your yard.

Need Help with Seasonal Maintenance?

If you’ve ticked off all those maintenance calls, you should be snug and comfortable this winter, no matter what the season throws at you. However, if you’re in Northern Virginia and need help with your seasonal upkeep, get in touch with us at Six Penny Chimney. Whether you need air duct cleaning, chimney sweeping, or gutter replacement, we’ll have your problems sorted in no time.