Avoid Toxic Air: The benefits of air duct cleaning and when do I need it

Air Duct Cleaning is very important to avoid toxic air.  We often take for granted the cool air on a hot summer day or the heat on a frigid winter night produced by our heating and cooling systems. Over time the duct work, air handler and coils associated with our heating and cooling systems begin to accumulate dust, debris, pollen, dander, etc. If the humidity in the duct system is high, which can occur for a variety of reasons, then mold growth can occur in this accumulated matter. The same system we rely on for comfort, over time with the wrong conditions can produce an environment of toxic air.

Depending on the specific conditions present and the type of use in the home or business, air duct systems should be inspected and or cleaned at least every 2-5 years. If there is a mold issue present in any building then it is imperative that the HVAC duct work be cleaned per NADCA standards in conjunction with the remediation work. If duct work is being replaced, upgraded or if any modifications are being made it is typically a good idea to clean the older duct work, air handler and coils to ensure even air flow and proper system balance.

Many people experience cold, allergy and sinus problems once the HVAC system is turned on at the beginning of the season. This is a good indicator that the system may be contaminated and is in need of professional cleaning. Proper cleaning will remove common contaminants and can ensure the cleanest air possible. There are devices called particulate counters that can measure overall particulates coming out of the system, but the most reliable method for inspection is a visual inspection using proper LED lighting and camera scopes.

It is imperative that duct cleaning be performed in accordance with NADCA standards and that the technicians involved are trained and are using the highest quality equipment. Every project is different but truck or trailer mounted units are good options as well as high powered portable HEPA filtered machines that can place the system or zone under strong vacuum or negative pressure during cleaning. Once the system is properly zoned off, tools such as air whips, cable brushes, forward/reverse balls or contact vacuuming/cleaning are used to clean every surface that air passes through. Some surfaces may require multiple methods to properly clean the duct work. All access points are properly sealed off once the cleaning is performed.

There are many companies that advertise duct cleaning that do nothing more than use a glorified shop vac to “clean” your ducts. You are wasting your money on these “fly by night” companies. Be sure to ask the right questions of any air duct cleaning company and insist on a company that follows NADCA protocols. A typical residential duct cleaning will take several hours to complete and the technician should be able to explain the process in detail to you.

With proper air duct cleaning performed by a reputable firm, air duct cleaning should greatly improve your systems efficiency and your building’s air quality.