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    Tuesday, October 30, 2018

    Duct cleaning: Worth it or hot air?

    If you or someone inside your family is affected with bronchial asthma or allergic reactions, you might be thinking about having your home's cooling and heating ducts cleaned. But even though you don't have any special health issues, duct cleaning may suit your needs in an intuitive level. In the end, in case your ducts are clean, everything air flowing from your vents may come out clean too, right?

    Well, actually, no.

    Firms that perform duct cleaning want you to definitely believe you'll need their professional services. Some could even advertise health advantages, or claim that duct cleaning will decrease your energy bills by enhancing your system's efficiency. Some ads make use of such language as, "Research has proven …" But no data support these claims. Even when your ducts are extremely dirty, cleaning them likely will not provide any measurable benefits. Actually, the small independent research performed on duct cleaning signifies the process stirs up a lot dust it results in a bigger problem of computer solves.

    How duct cleaners work

    Companies connect a powerful vacuum to one or more openings in the ductwork to suck out loose dust and other debris. Because lots of dust can cake on the inside of ducts, firms use a variety of methods - a rotary brush or compressed air nozzles, for example - to shake it loose.

    Many duct-cleaning companies also offer services you can get from conventional heating/cooling firms such as cleaning heat exchangers and cooling coils.

    The case against having your ducts cleaned

    Here's the factor: Dust that settles inside your ventilation ducts typically stays there unless of course disturbed, and it is usually harmless.

    The state advisory from the U.S. Ecological Protection Agency (Environmental protection agency) concludes: "Duct cleaning has not been proven to really prevent health issues. Neither do studies conclusively show particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase due to dirty ductwork. It is because a lot of the dirt in ductwork adheres to duct surfaces and doesn't always go into the living area. … Furthermore, there's no evidence that the light quantity of household dust or any other particulate matter in ductwork poses any risk for your health."

    The American Lung Association includes a similar position.

    Getting your ducts cleaned may really produce a dust problem or make a current problem worse. Within the 1990s, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) tested 33 homes in Montreal pre and post duct cleaning, finding no significant improvement in quality of air which duct cleaning alone didn't improve air flow or energy-efficiency. In some instances, measured particle levels really elevated soon after a cleaning. In some cases, particle levels decreased soon after cleaning, but came back to previous levels within days.

    If you think a mold problem - either due to visible growth or perhaps a musty smell consistently originating from supply vents - cleaning ducts will not do much good whether it does not get rid of the mold. Mold always starts with a moisture problem, and also the ducts are unlikely to cause the issue. Probably the most likely culprits would be the cooling system's evaporator coils, which your heating and air conditioning-conditioning contractor - and many duct-cleaning companies - can inspect and keep. Leaky return ducts may also introduce moisture.

    Read Also: Air Duct Cleaning Process

    Want to control dust? Regularly change your filter

    Frequently changing air filters is the best way to keep dust, allergens, and other particles out of your home. Most should be replaced every two or three months.

    Duct cleaning won’t save energy, either

    Another sketchy claim made by most duct-cleaning operations and their trade association is that dirty ducts and equipment overburden heating and cooling equipment, which wastes energy. Again, it intuitively makes sense that a cleaner system will run smoother and last longer - after all, that's why we and HVAC equipment manufacturers and repair services recommend that you regularly change your filters. But the page "Benefits of HVAC Cleaning" on the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) website stretches this benefit too far by stating: "According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a home is wasted."

    That's misleading.

    Although much of the energy used to power heating and cooling equipment is indeed wasted, that waste is due to inefficient equipment, lousy insulation, leaks around doors and windows, and unsealed ductwork. While there's some benefit to cleaning and maintaining HVAC equipment, that benefit is relatively small, and very little energy waste is attributable to dirty ducts or equipment.

    When to consider using a duct cleaner

    The EPA suggests having air ducts cleaned only if there is visible evidence of specific problems:
    • Substantial mold growth (again, though, after identifying the source).
    • Infestation of insects or rodents.
    • Substantial deposits of dust or debris (if registers were not sealed during a renovation project, for example).
    For specific health concerns, such as allergies or asthma, consult your physician first. The doctor may suggest other courses of action than duct cleaning. Bottom line: Your ducts are probably not the problem.

    If you do hire a duct cleaner

    Get several companies arrive at your house to do inspections and supply estimates. You might as well search for businesses that fit in with NADCA. Its people must sign up for the NADCA code of ethics, must employ a minumum of one NADCA-trained-and-certified specialist, and therefore are needed to hold a minimum of $500,000 generally insurance.

    Also, check ratings for duct cleaners at Checkbook.org. We have arranged free access for Inquirer readers (see below).

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