Does cleaning air ducts really make a difference?
- by siteadmin
Knowledge about air duct cleaning is still in its early stages, folks, so I can't just give you a straight-up recommendation on whether you should clean those air ducts in your home. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants you to read this here document in its entirety because it's got some important info on the subject. Trust me, it's worth a look.
Now, let's talk about duct cleaning. There's been no solid evidence that it actually prevents health problems. Studies don't definitively prove that dirty air ducts cause an increase in particle levels, like dust, inside homes. You see, a lot of that dirt sticks to the surfaces of the ducts and doesn't necessarily make its way into your living space. It's important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are just one potential source of particles in your home. You've got pollutants coming in from outside and indoor activities like cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just plain moving around that can expose you to more contaminants than those ducts. Plus, there's no evidence that a little bit of household dust or other gunk in your air ducts poses any risk to your health.
Now, if you've got substantial mold growth inside those hard surface ducts or on other parts of your heating and cooling system, well, then it's worth considering a cleaning. But here's the deal with mold detection: Some areas of your system might not be easily visible, so make sure the service provider shows you any mold they claim is there. And listen up, even if something looks like mold, only an expert can make a definite call on it. That might mean sending a sample to a fancy microbiology lab for analysis. It could cost you around 50 bucks, but they'll let you know if it's mold or just something that looks like it. If you've got insulated air ducts that get wet or moldy, cleaning won't cut it. You'll need to get that insulation removed and replaced. And remember, if you don't fix the conditions that caused the mold growth in the first place, that mold will come back for an encore.
Now, if your ducts are infested with vermin, like rodents or insects, that's a definite sign it's time for a cleaning. And if those ducts are clogged up with a crazy amount of dust, debris, and particles are actually making their way into your home from the supply registers, well, you might want to get those suckers cleaned too. But here's the thing, if any of those issues exist, it means there's an underlying cause or causes that need to be fixed before any cleaning, retrofitting, or replacing happens. Otherwise, you'll just end up dealing with the same problems all over again.
There's some research suggesting that cleaning certain components of your heating and cooling system, like the cooling coils, fans, and heat exchangers, might improve the system's efficiency and make it last longer. That could save you some energy and maintenance costs, which is always a bonus. But there's not a whole lot of evidence that cleaning just the ducts themselves will improve the system's efficiency.
Now, some of you might be thinking, "Hey, my air ducts will get dirty over time, so maybe I should clean 'em every now and then." Well, it sounds logical, and as long as it's done right, there's no evidence to suggest it would harm you. The EPA doesn't recommend routine cleaning of air ducts, though. They say you should only do it when it's actually needed. But here's something they do recommend: If you've got a fuel-burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, get 'em inspected and serviced before each heating season.
Knowledge about air duct cleaning is still in its early stages, folks, so I can't just give you a straight-up recommendation on whether you should clean those air ducts in your home. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants you to read this here document in its entirety because it's got some important info on…