DIY Tips From the Warner Service Blog

Do You Know The Real Dirt On Air Duct Cleaning?

Posted by Warner Service on May 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM



When it comes to air duct cleaning, you’re likely to hear a lot of opposing views.

Some techs believe that it’s necessary while others believe it doesn’t hurt nor help your HVAC system. We’ll meet you in the middle:

Who should clean your air ducts?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this isn't a DIY project. They suggest contacting the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) for local recommendations. Here are a few tips from the EPA when looking to hire:

  • Don’t hire anyone who make claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning as such claims are unsubstantiated.

  • Don’t hire those who recommend air cleaning as a routine part of HVAC maintenance.

  • Be wary of those who claim to be EPA certified because the organization neither establishes duct cleaning standards nor certifies, endorses, or approves companies.

  • Contact the local Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints exist against any company you’re considering.

  • Check references to be sure others were satisfied.

  • Ensure that they:

    • Are experienced in air duct cleaning
    • Use protective procedures
    • Comply with NADCA air duct cleaning standards
    • Understand North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) recommendations if you have fiberglass duct board or insulated internally with fiber glass duct liner
    • Provide a written agreement outlining the total cost, duration, and scope of work prior to starting

What are air ducts?

When you install a distributed heating and cooling system, it works via a system of air ducts that evenly distribute heat and air conditioning throughout your home.

When should you schedule an appointment?

According to Angie’s List, “NADCA experts argue the need for cleaning depends on a variety of factors, including pets, smoking, recent renovations, local weather conditions and overall home cleanliness.”

However, it shouldn't be part of regular or seasonal HVAC maintenance.

Why should you get the ducts cleaned?

The EPA highly suggests air duct cleaning only if you can see or smell:

  • Substantial visible mold growth
  • Vermin like insects and rodents
  • Excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles
  • Lingering odors from cigarettes
  • Pet hair
  • Fire or flood residue

You might also consider it because it's logical that they’ll get dirty over time. Provided that the cleaning is done properly, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental.

Otherwise, “research suggests that cleaning heating and cooling system components...may improve the efficiency of your system, resulting in a longer operating life, as well as some energy and maintenance cost savings.

However, little evidence exists that cleaning only the ducts will improve the efficiency of the system.”

Where are the benefits if no evidence exists?

Air cleaning cleaning could result in:

  • Increased respiratory health
  • Increased air conditioner efficiency
  • Decreased mold growth and offensive odors

How does a professional clean air ducts?

It depends on the size of your HVAC system, accessibility, climatic region, and level of contamination.

A professional usually cleans various components of forced air systems, including supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, coils, condensate drain/drip pans, fan motor and housing, and air handling unit housing.

Methods vary, but standards have been established by industry associations. Typically, a service provider will use specialized rotary brushes to dislodge dirt and debris, then suck everything out with a high-powered vacuum cleaner.

In conclusion, you should avoid companies that suggest doing this regularly because there's no evidence that only air duct cleaning is beneficial to your system or indoor air quality -- unless you have one of the six reasons above.

If you want to substantially improve your indoor air quality right away, download Warner Service’s Indoor Air Quality Guide by clicking below:

Download the Free Guide

Topics: Indoor Air, HVAC, Maintenance, hvac tips