If you consider the compressor as the heart of your HVAC system, then your ducts are the arteries. And just as with human arteries, it’s essential your ducts are clean to ensure the free flow of air, the health of your HVAC system and your physical health as well.
In this article, we look at the importance of your ductwork, how dirty ducts affect your health, and how to ensure your air ducts stay clean.
What is Air Duct Cleaning?
It might come as a surprise, but in many instances, the air in your home is more polluted than the air outside. Much of the indoor pollution comes from pet dander, dust, mold, and mildew. And when this polluted air circulates throughout the house, these pollutants can affect every member of the household including your pets.
Duct cleaning is a process by which a professional comes into your home and thoroughly cleans not only your ductwork but the components of your HVAC system including the registers. Regular cleaning is vital for maintaining your health and the health of your system and to ensure it provides you excellent service for years.
Keep in mind that dirt, dust, and debris build-up through day-to-day usage of your HVAC system, which is why routine cleaning and maintenance is essential. With that in mind, when you decide it’s time to get your ductwork cleaned, it’s advised to get an HVAC contractor who will clean the whole system because dirt in one part will eventually circulate to the rest.
Also, in some cases, professional duct cleaning involves applying chemicals to kill microbiological pollutants for deep cleaning.
If you’ve not ever had your ducts cleaned, it’s time to consider doing so, and once clean, get on a regular maintenance schedule for your ducts and your entire air conditioning system.
How Dirty Air Ducts Affect Your Health
According to the EPA, Americans spend about 90% of their time inside, and as mentioned above, in many cases the air inside your home is more polluted than the air outside. Knowing that it’s not difficult to see how dirty air can affect your health.
So, how do dirty ducts enter the equation, and what kind of health problems can you suffer from dirty ducts?
Since your air conditioner works by taking warm air out of the home, stripping out the heat, and then pumping cool air back in, dust, debris, pet dander, and germs are continuously getting sucked into the system and spread around the home.
The following are just a few of the health issues you can experience if your ducts are dirty.
- Sore Throat
- Increase in Allergies
- Coughing and Upper Respiratory Infections
- Asthma Attacks
- Weakened Immune System
In addition to dirt, dust, debris, and pet dander that accumulate in ductwork, sometimes rodents and insects find their way in and either die or leave waste behind, and the germs and bacteria from that waste blow into your home when your air conditioner is running.
While all of these issues are bad enough when it comes to healthy people, imagine small children or elderly residents who have compromised immune systems having to deal with the health problems caused by dirty ducts.
Dirty Ducts & Household Odors
Have you noticed your home not smelling as fresh as you’d like? Have you used sprays and air fresheners only to have the musty smell come back again? If so, there’s a chance the problem lies in your ductwork. Mold and mildew can build up in your ducts and put out a musty smell when you run your AC. And not only does the air smell terrible, but the presence of mold increases the chance of you and your family getting sick. And while you may have gotten somewhat used to the smell, imagine having guests over and what they’ll think about your musty-smelling house.
How To Clean Your Air Ducts
For best results, consider calling a professional duct cleaning service to get a thorough duct cleaning. However, if you’re set on doing it yourself, here are a few pointers.
- Put covers over your registers that supply air to the system. You can use paper towels or blankets which keeps the dust from spilling out into your rooms while you’re cleaning.
- Run your fan while you’re cleaning to keep the dust moving.
- Make sure your filter is still in place so it can absorb any dirt and prevent it from getting lodged in the fan’s motor.
- Dislodge the dust and debris by gently knocking on the ducts.
- Clean your air supply registers with a vacuum and a hose attachment. Get in as deep as you can at each register.
- Sweep out your air return registers in the same way you cleaned the supply registers.
- Turn the power off and dust out the blower compartment. This is one area where a lot of dust and dirt gathers so you’ll need to use your vacuum for this as well.
- Replace the dirty filter with a clean one when you’re finished. Most experts recommend getting the best filter money can buy to filter out the small particles and keep them from damaging your system and getting into your home.
How Much Does Professional Air Duct Cleaning Cost?
Thorough duct cleaning is a big job and is best left to the professionals who have the proper equipment and training. If you’re not handy or want the job done right, call in a service technician for a cleaning.
While rates vary according to how big of a home you have and how many vents are involved, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500 for professional duct cleaning. And while that might seem high, think about how better you and your family’s health will be with clean, fresh air circulating throughout, and how much nicer your home will smell too. Keeping ducts clean also ensures your system runs efficiently and lasts for as long as possible.