When you think of your home’s heating and cooling system, what comes to mind? The condenser, evaporator, and fan are what most people know about air conditioning. However, your air ducts are also an important part of your HVAC system. Ducts are channels that run through your walls bringing conditioned air from your HVAC system throughout your home and back outside again.
Homes with central air typically have several small exhaust and supply vents that channel conditioned air to different parts of the house. Those nooks and crannies can accumulate dirt, dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens over time.
If left uncleaned for too long, clogged ducts can reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system, increase your energy bills and even make your family sick.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss the ducts in your home, the problems that can arise if you ignore them and how to have your ducts cleaned properly.
What’s lurking in your duct work?
Ducts draw in and expel air through vents located throughout your home. It’s an effective way to circulate cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter but it also accumulates dirt and pollutants. This gunk settles in your ductwork and then distributes into your home with each blast of air.
What kind of “ick” accumulate in your ducts?
- Dust and dust mites– Dust is comprised of dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria, hair, clothing fibers, and dead insect particles. Dust mites are microscopic pests that feed off of the organic matter in the dust.
- Allergens– Pollen, mold spores, and pet dander can all settle in your ducts and trigger asthma and allergies in your family members.
- Mold and mildew– These fungi thrive in dark, humid environments like your ducts.
- Chemical pollutants- Your air ducts can accumulate traces of chemicals such as secondhand tobacco smoke and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from cleaning products, varnishes, and glues and distribute them throughout your home.
- Bacteria and viruses- Airborne bacteria and viruses such as influenza can be sucked into your ducts where it thrives and can be potentially transported to other parts of your home.
- Bugs and spiders– Insects love your ductwork because it provides a hidden place to nest and easy access to all the rooms in your home.
- Dead animals and excrement- Small rodents and other pests can chew their way into your ducts where they either nest or become trapped and die. Either leads to an unpleasant experience for you.
Dirty Air Ducts = Big Problems
As you can see the air ducts in your home can become clogged with all sorts of dirt, pollutants, and pests. This stew of contaminants isn’t just gross, it can cause health problems for your family, wear down your HVAC system prematurely, and even cost you money.
Dirty air ducts can affect the health of anyone living in your home—even your pets! If your family experiences any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that your air ducts need to be cleaned:
- Chronic cold symptoms such as coughing sneezing, sore throat, congestion, or itchy watery eyes.
- Difficulty breathing, including allergy or asthma attacks that happen more frequently when you are home.
- Frequent respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or sinus infections.
- Headaches, low-grade fever, or other unexplainable symptoms of illness.
- Dry, itchy skin or chronic skin conditions such as eczema, hives, or other rashes.
The health risks associated with dirty air ducts are probably enough to make anyone want to keep these important air passages clean, but if you are still not convinced, consider these potential risks to your home:
- Decreased HVAC Efficiency- When your ducts are clogged, air can’t move freely through your home. This makes your HVAC system have to work harder to heat and cool your home.
- Premature Wear and Tear on your HVAC system- As we mentioned above your heating and cooling system has to work harder to push air through clogged ducts. It may be able to keep up for a while but all of this extra effort will cause your system to wear down quickly.
- Bigger expenses- As your HVAC works harder to cool your home it’s going to require more energy to run. This can cause a hefty increase in your monthly energy bills. Not to mention the cost to repair or replace your AC or furnace as it wears down.
- Infestations- Insects, spiders, and rodents are attracted to dirty ductwork and can thrive undetected and undisturbed.
- Unpleasant odors- As dirt, mold, and excrement accumulate in your ducts, the air circulation is wafting the odor through your home.
- Fire Hazards- The dirt and debris accumulating in your ducts are flammable and can spark a fire or contribute to its spread.
DIY Air Duct Cleaning?
When you consider the risks to your home and health it doesn’t make sense to ignore your air ducts, but can you clean them yourself or should you hire a professional?
If you are like most homeowners and it’s been several years since your ducts have been cleaned you most certainly will want to hire a professional. Their specialized tools can reach every nook and crevice to ensure that your ducts are clean and your HVAC system is running efficiently. A professional knows how to blast through clogs without making a huge mess and they are trained to spot problems in your duct system that you might not otherwise notice.
In between cleanings, however, it can’t hurt to remove your vent covers and give them a thorough scrubbing. Replacing your air filter every few months is another great way to help maintain your ducts between cleanings.
How Often Should You Have Your Ducts Cleaned?
Now that you understand the importance of clean air ducts, you may be wondering how often you should have them cleaned. As a general rule, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends that your ducts should be inspected yearly and cleaned as needed.
This answer is vague because several factors contribute to how often your ducts will need to be cleaned:
- What is the current condition of your ducts?- If you’ve never had them cleaned before, it’s best to have them inspected before cleaning.
- What type of ducts do you have?- If you have metal ducts, they may need to be cleaned more frequently than fiberglass ducts.
- What type of HVAC system do you have? If you have a gas furnace, you’ll probably want to have your ducts cleaned more often than if you have an electric furnace.
- How many people live in your home?- If you have more people in your home the more quickly dirt and debris will accumulate.
- How healthy are the people in your home?- If you or your family members suffer from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory illnesses you will want to have your ducts cleaned more frequently to prevent exacerbating their symptoms.
- Are there smokers or pets in your home? – If smokers reside in your home second-hand smoke residue can accumulate in your ducts. Pets can add hair and dander. In both cases more frequent cleanings are necessary.
Get Clean Air Ducts with Hydra Clean Northwest
How long has it been since your air ducts were cleaned? A few years? A decade? Never? Are you thinking of all the dirt, allergens, and pollutants accumulating behind your walls? Are you worried about the impact on your health, home, and wallet?
If you are ready to have your ducts professionally cleaned, call the experts at Hydra Clean Northwest. Our vacuum truck system thoroughly cleans your ducts without making a mess of your home. We even perform a camera inspection before and after cleaning to ensure that your ducts are cleaned to our high expectations. Call to set up an appointment today!