Having clean and quality indoor air is essential to the whole wellbeing of household residents. Thus, proper cleaning and maintenance of your home's air ducts should be considered as one of your top priorities in order to have a healthy home environment.
Having clean and well-maintained air ducts does not normally justify that household members will not have any health problems, and dust particles in other parts of the house comes from air ducts filled with dust because it settles of the duct surface and does not really enter the home's living spaces. Most disease causing microbes that are present within a house comes mostly from the outdoor environment and not from the dirty air ducts inside the house.
Bearing the above in mind you must consider having your air ducts clean if you have the following problems:
1. There is a sufficient amount of visible mold growth on the surfaces and other components of the heating and cooling system.
2. If the ducts have become infested with rats or other insects which could bring diseases and destroy the house structure materials.
3. When the ducts are filled and clogged up with an unreasonable amount of dust and other particles that the air from your service registers spews dust into various parts of the house. This situation needs to be properly looked into because there might be other problems why dust is being blown into you living space. And this should be corrected immediately to fix the problem.
Cleaning air ducts pertain to the cleaning of the different cooling and heating systems that comprise the forced air systems, which are made up of:
1. the supply and return air ducts along with the registers
2. the diffusers and grilles
3. the heat exchangers made up of the cooling and heating coils
4. the drip pans
5. the fan motor and housing
6. and the housing for air handling unit
The above mentioned parts should be correctly installed, operated and maintained to prevent dust and debris accumulation. Since air ducts are on the preliminary air passage ways to your house, moisture will usually be present due to the interaction of cold and hot air within the space. This situation could lead to the growth of molds and other allergy causing microbes when it is released into your home's living quarters. Hence, these contaminants should be removed by a professional air duct service provider, or you could do it yourself by doing the the suggestions and recommendations listed below.
Should you choose a professional air duct cleaning service provider to clean your ducts, the provider must:
1. Unfasten all access ports and doors for the inspection and cleaning of the entire air duct system.
2. Examine the entire system to make sure that no materials containing asbestos is present. If asbestos materials are existent, postpone cleaning at a later date after until the asbestos materials are removed by specially trained contractors.
3. Use a vacuum equipment that has the capability of draining all particles outside the house. Or use a high efficiency particle air (HEPA) vacuum if the dust will be drained inside the house.
4. Put some protection over the carpet and other household furnishings while cleaning.
5. Control the brushing of surfaces within the duct to remove dust and other materials.
6. Use soft brush bristles for the fiberglass on the duct board and within the sheet metal ducts.
7. Take every possible care to ensure that access holes are re-insulated and sealed up so that everything is air tight.
8. Follow the standards for air duct cleaning by NADCA and the proposed practice for fiber glass containing ducts as per NAIMA.
In order to see if the service provider did a satisfactory job, visually inspect the cleanliness of the entire air duct system. Request the service provider to show you the various components of the system before he returns them back in their proper place to confirm their cleanliness.
To lessen air duct contamination try the following options:
1. Use high efficiency filters that are recommended by manufacturers.
2. Change your air filters regularly
3. Should filters clog up frequently, remove and change them often.
4. Check if there are missing filters. If there are, replace them immediately.
5. Upon checking the ducts, make sure that the air is unable to reroute around the filter holder.
6. Ask the service provider to clean the cooling coils and drain pans, whenever you have your air ducts cleaned and maintained.
7. Properly seal off the return register and supply. It is also advisable not to operate or turn on the cooling and heating systems of your home when construction or renovation is being done. This is to prevent dust from entering the air duct system.
8. Vacuum and remove dust at a scheduled interval in your home by using a high efficiency vacuum cleaner and filter bags.
9. Maintain and operate in-duct humidification equipment strictly according to manufacturer's instructions.
Moisture should never be present inside the aid ducts. But this cannot be eradicated totally because of the hot and cold temperatures within the ducts which causes humidity and condensation. Therefore, the best remedy would be to control the moisture by doing the following steps:
1. Repair water damage and water leaks from all possible sources immediately.
2. Regularly check the condensation pan drains to be sure if it is draining correctly. Likewise check insulations for wet spots especially those near the cooling oils.
3. Have all non-air conditioned ducts properly sealed and insulated to ward off condensation from going into the system.
4. The unit for your air conditioning system should be suited according to your actual needs, and all ducts must be sealed properly at the joints. A very large unit would generally shut off and on, and this affects the removal of moisture in areas which your unit must do in order to manage condensation properly.
5. Methods or techniques that use moisture for cleaning (example:steam cleaning) must not be used for duct work cleaning, since the duct work space is not a place where moisture should be present.
The application of chemical biocides and ozones inside the air ducts do hold a lot of controversy because little study and research has been done to convince of the effectiveness of biocide or ozone application inside ducts to prevent microbial or pathogenic organism growth. And spraying these chemicals within an operating duct will cause the materials to go through the system and eliminate it into the other parts of the house that may cause some people to have adverse health reactions to said biocide and ozone.
While such products may claim to sanitize smooth surfaces of a bare sheet metal duct, no product as of present is approved and registered to be used of the fiber glasses within the duct system. Thus before permitting a service provider to apply biocide in your ducts, the service provider must:
1. Show you that there is actual evidence of microbe or fungal growth in your duct work. But only an expert in the form of a biologist could attest if there is really biological growth, not to mention the fact that you will need to have laboratory tests done as a final confirmation of such – because other forms of testing methods are unreliable.
2. Be able to explain why such biological growth cannot be cleaned up by brushing and why further contamination cannot be prevented by implementing moisture control.
However, if you decide to permit the service provider to use the biocide, the following should be done:
1. The service provider must show you the biocide label so you could personally ascertain the range of its approved uses.
2. Only apply the biocide to uninsulated parts of the duct system after it has been properly cleaned out to curtail the probability of mold re-growth.
3. Use the biocide strictly in accordance to the label of instruction by the manufacturer.
It is further recommended that all household occupants stay out or away from the house while the biocide is being applied in order to prevent any allergic reactions or any negative health effects.
The cleaning of your air duct system in reality should be done because you need to have it cleaned and that it gets dirty as time passes by and it remains untouched. It is quite impractical to have your ducts cleaned monthly since this will also bog down your budget. Considering that you must have the air ducts clean at one point in time, it is advisable that you get yourself familiar with the basics of air duct cleaning and the parts of your duct system. This way you know what is really going on when you hire a service provider to do the job for you. And while you may be able to do the job yourself, having the correct cleaning materials is more costly that hiring one who already has them and knows what they are doing. Because cleaning the air ducts does not only require you to know the mundane facts, it also requires proper experience coupled with good effective cleaning skills.