Ventilation ducts are one of the most commonly overlooked areas of the house when it comes time for spring-cleaning. They are the ultimate “out of sight, out of mind” area in the house. Not only are they eminently forgettable, they are also difficult to clean effectively without special equipment. Compiled below are a number of commonly asked questions about duct cleaning, along with advice from the experts.
Q.- I am a DIYer. Is duct and vent cleaning something I can do on my own to save money?
A.- Probably not. It is true that duct cleaning services can seem expensive, especially for families on a tight budget, but it is still not recommended to try on your own, if only because you won't get very far. While you could take a screwdriver to the vent covers, give the area a good dusting and maybe stick a vacuum hose as far in as it will go, you won't likely clean more than a fraction of the labyrinth of ducts that go through most homes. Duct cleaning services use very specialized equipment not generally available to consumers to thoroughly clean out the ducts.
Q.- How do I stop my ducts from getting dirty in the first place?
A.- The first and easiest step towards keeping your ducts clean is to change your filters monthly. Even the bargain filters capture a large percentage of the dust and debris that accumulates in an HVAC system. For more thorough protection you may want to opt for an electrostatic filter, which is better at capturing minute particles and allergens.
Q.- I saw a late night infomercial for an electric air filter that claims to work better than regular filters, is that true or have I been lied to again?
A.- Believe it or not, most of those high-tech electric filters are more effective at capturing particulates than regular fiberglass or electrostatic filters. These electric filters work by generating an electrostatic charge that draws in airborne particulates in greater proportions than a standard filter can. Every pass through the filter captures more and more, generally leading to better air quality. Some have an added UV light component that kills certain common bacteria and fungal spores.
Q.- My duct cleaning service offers an anti-microbial spray to kill mold and fungi, is this safe? Is it worth it?
A.- This is a very common option that duct cleaning services offer. Ventilation ducts are indeed an excellent environment for promoting mold and fungus growth, however unless you have a respiratory condition or mold allergies, the presence of most mold or fungi may never affect you. As far as safety is concerned, most commercial sprays used by the industry have been deemed safe, although their role as a carcinogen is up for debate. However, if you have young children, elderly folks or a family member with a respiratory condition, you should consult with a doctor and with the HVAC professional about spraying for mold and fungus.
Q.- Why bother with all this duct cleaning nonsense, anyway?
A.- Cleaning your ducts can be an expensive proposition, but it has a number benefits that should outweigh the cost. First and foremost, having a clean and unobstructed ventilation system improves the overall efficiency of your HVAC system, which will save you money in the long term. Duct cleaning specialists are also able to identify health risks that may be lurking in your ducts such mold, fungi, insects or other vermin that you may not have known about. A clean set of ducts and vents will also improve the general air quality of your home.