Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?
What is Air Duct Cleaning?
Most people are now aware that indoor air pollution is an issue of growing concern
and increased visibility. Many companies are marketing products and services intended to improve the quality of your indoor air. You have probably seen an advertisement, received a coupon in the mail, or been approached directly by a
company offering to clean your air ducts as a means of improving your home’s
indoor air quality. These services typically — but not always — range in cost from
$450 to $1000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climatic region, and level of contamination.
Duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling
system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts
and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils,
condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing .
If not properly installed, maintained, and operated, these components may become
contaminated with particles of dust, pollen, or other debris. If moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased, and spores from such growth may be released into the home’s living space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people if they are exposed to them. If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, it is important to make sure the service provider agrees to clean all components
of the system and is qualified to do so. Failure to clean a component of a contaminated system can result in re contamination of the entire system, thus
negating any potential benefits. Methods of duct cleaning vary, although standards
have been established by industry associations concerned with air duct cleaning.
Typically, a service provider will use specialized tools to dislodge dirt and
other debris in ducts, and then vacuum them out with a high-powered vacuum
cleaner. In addition, the service provider may propose applying chemical biocides,
designed to kill microbiological contaminants, to the inside of the duct work and to other system components.
Some service providers may also suggest applying chemical treatments (sealants or
other encapsulants) to seal or cover the inside surfaces of the air ducts and equipment housings because they believe the sealant will control mold growth or
prevent the release of dirt particles or fibers from ducts. These practices have
yet to be fully researched and you should be fully informed before deciding to permit the use of biocides or sealants in your air ducts. They should only be applied, if at all, after the system has been properly cleaned of all visible dust or debris.
If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, it is important to make sure the service provider agrees to clean all components of the system and is qualified to do so.
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