Tag Archive for: air duct

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.

air duct cleaning myths

7 Air Duct Cleaning Myths Debunked

Maintaining your HVAC system should be an easy decision. Regular maintenance extends the life of your system and helps identify needed repairs before they turn into more significant problems. However, misinformation abounds on the internet along with half-baked opinions, and it’s no wonder that many people develop misconceptions about HVAC servicing. Here are five air duct cleaning myths unmistakably debunked. This information will help you make a properly informed decision before deciding whether to make a booking for air duct maintenance.

1. Air Ducts Don’t Get Dirty – They Have Filters That Stop Dirt

Myth number one is that so little dirt enters air ducts that they should rarely (if ever) need cleaning. However, even the best filters can’t stop all air-borne particles from getting through to the air ducts and lodging there. In addition, incorrectly installed HVAC systems and failure to properly maintain and operate them can lead to pollutants finding their way past filters. Finally, moisture that inadvertently enters the ducts can also lead to mold growing on the surface of the vents.

And let’s not forget about uninvited guests. Creepy crawlies and vermin are in the habit of making their way not just into homes but also into HVAC systems. Their droppings and filth will lodge within the air ducts, eventually impacting your home’s air quality.

2. Air Duct Cleaning Myths — I Can Do It Myself

Some homeowners have a strong misconception that they can do all air duct cleaning by themselves, particularly if they’re into DIY. However, consider whether you have the right tools to get into every nook and cranny before jumping into this venture. All parts of duct systems aren’t usually visible, so how will you be sure that pollutants haven’t been left behind?

Professional air duct cleaners use specialized equipment to ensure the thorough removal of pollutants.  Powerful industrial vacuums, air-washing, air compressor hoses, and dirt-pigs form part of their arsenal of tools.

3. Only Qualified Technicians Should Change Air Filters

Myth number three addresses people who believe it’s all too technical and no part of HVAC systems should be touched by homeowners. However, this is not the case in regard to air filters. Regularly changing air filters by yourself will minimize the need for air duct cleaning, saving you money. In addition, using the highest-rated air filters will absolutely lessen the amount of dirt, pollen, and other contaminants getting into the air ducts.

Air filters are usually located in a slot near the furnace unit and behind return air grills or vents. Depending upon your HVAC system, there may be multiple filters. Open the filter compartment and slide out the filter. If it looks dirty and clogged, it’s time to replace it.

If you can’t find the filter, a quick online search for the manufacturer’s HVAC operating instructions should solve the problem. However, if you’re not the handy type and find this overwhelming, you can always hire a handy person to do this for you.

4. Air Duct Cleaning Myths — Dangerous Chemicals Are Used

Myth number four has instilled an unnecessary fear in homeowners around chemical cleaning agents. Many believe dangerous chemicals and potentially hazardous fumes are used in the cleaning process. So, naturally, they are reticent to book an air duct cleaning session. However, professional air duct cleaning does not require toxic chemicals to be generally used. Powerful vacuums draw out most of the particles from the ducts.

In some cases, biocides may be needed to treat bacteria, mold, or algae, as they pose health risks. Professional cleaners will ensure that the household is properly protected from any potential ill effects of the treatment. Check with the company and ask them to detail their process and what cleaning agents they use.

5.  House Plants Clean My Air – I Don’t Need to Clean the Air Ducts

Myth number five is a relatively new one, based on incomplete facts. Some laboratory studies have suggested that indoor plants can reduce dangerous gases and pollutants from the air. Unfortunately, this has led many people to exaggerate the benefits associated with houseplants. The EPA has warned that evidence is lacking in this area. Houseplants can only remove low levels of pollutants in the home. The EPA also warns that over-watering indoor plants can cause the growth of mold and mildew, contributing to poor air quality.

Find the Right Air Duct Cleaning Company

Unscrupulous air duct cleaning companies may try to persuade you that cleaning is necessary more than once a year. However, even once a year may be unnecessary if air filters are regularly changed. If you’re concerned about your indoor air quality, contact us at Six Penny Chimney. We will happily discuss every aspect of air duct cleaning with you.