Have you ever wondered why you constantly sneeze at home? Have you thought about getting skin allergies, an itchy nose and somehow cough and cold? Like it or not, these are signs of inadequate air quality in the home. When homes have their own heating or cooling system, these are homes susceptible to dirty air ducting system.
If your home is beyond 4 years and the air ducts have not cleaned before, then it is time to wash the ducts. Your family might have been suffering the allergic reactions due to pollens, dust mites, and other microbes thriving with the dust.
However, do not call an air duct cleaner professional immediately. You need to double check if the source of the health problem at home is really on the air ducting system. Air ducting system is not the only probable cause to respiratory illness at home. Molded ceilings or walls due leaks is one of the many possible causes. Check the walls or ceilings if there are no liquid traces of stains. If that condition is absent, then move on to checking your air ducting system.
What is really air duct cleaning? It is cleaning the numerous cooling and heating system components which includes your grates, registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.
There are ways to do the air duct cleaning yourself and here are some tips.
Do it Yourself - DIY Air Duct Cleaning
Gather your tools. Screw drivers, latex gloves and mask. Find all the air duct apertures. You must find all the apertures if you want to fully clean the dust that will be circulating throughout your air vents.
Open up grates. This is the time you need your screwdriver. Remove all the screws on grates and inspect the area inside. Put your gloves on and run a finger along the sides. If you see gray or brown dust on your finger, you have a big problem.
Vacuum. A long vacuum hose would be best to work on. Ensure that you have all the sides taken cared of and reach farther as you can while vacuuming. Take your time in vacuuming and use the brush head to scrub off the dust sticking on the surface and the corners of the ducts.
If the problem persists even after your do-it-yourself vacuuming, check if the ducts smell funny or stingy. This might be a sign of molds, rodent and insect droppings and other substances that are staying on the hidden areas. For sure, there are still existing substances though not visible when you were working with the DIY air duct cleaning. This is the time to call the professionals.
Things to look for in an air ducting cleaner professional:
Does the air duct cleaner offer about regularly cleaning on your air ducting system?
According to US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), cleaning the air ducts is on an as-needed basis. If a cleaning service provider insists on doing a regular cleaning on your air ducting system, you might need to consider finding another air duct cleaner. You might think that since over time air ducts get dirty, and thus need regular cleaning. However, only a little amount of research proves that cleaning dirty coils and other cooling and heating components could actually increase your air duct system’s efficiency. However, inspecting other causes that lead to filthy air ducts should be considered. If rodent or cockroach droppings are present, consider in having other hidden areas at home checked rather than just the air ducting system. Examine the areas at home that might be conducive for insects and pests entry and habitat.
Does the professional tell you right away that there are molds present even just by looking?
Some substances may look like molds but are actually not. Determining a particulate whether it is mold or other substance can be done by a microbiology laboratories and costs only $50. Just stick a strip of household tape on the surface of the air duct and the expert will be able to analyze that. Further, substances should be carefully checked so that the professional would have an idea how to clean the air ducts system. If conditions at home are not treated, molds, and other microbe growth would recur.
Is the price right?
Check for price and coverage of cleaning. For every cleaning package comes with a cost. Some air duct cleaners use vacuum, and/or chemical biocide. Some cleaners, depending on the condition of your air duct cleaning components, may apply sealants and replace the components. Always ask the cleaner the cleaning interventions that they apply so that you will understand why you need it in your home. It is necessary to make sure the air duct cleaner agrees to clean all components of the system and is certified to do such operation.
Be careful about the use of chemical biocide. The use of biocides is regulated by EPA and covered by the Federal Law. The biocide product should be duly registered by EPA before it can be used legally. Air duct cleaners use biocides to sanitize or kill bacteria and prevent future growth of molds, and other microbes. The effectiveness and efficiency of biocides used in cleaning the air ducts have not yet significantly proven. One of the chemicals used in air duct cleaning is Ozone to kill bacteria. However, there are people who react negatively to the chemical. Even if applied in low levels, some people are hypersensitive to the chemical. If biocide needs to be used, let them show you the chemical used. Let the cleaner professional apply it only to un-insulated portions of the air ducts only. When this is applied, you should consider leaving the premises of your household.
Call or ask other service providers for opinion so you can understand further the nature of air duct cleaning; and how these air duct cleaners operate.
Check credibility. Ask the company about the number of years that they have been into the business. Check references to be sure if customers were satisfied with their service.
Call your local or city consumer affairs to check if there are complaints filed against them.
When Air duct cleaners are On-the-job
Cleaners should cover the carpeted floor, furnishings. This is to prevent damage on the area caused by moving around and if a use of the biocide is implemented.
Windows, doors and other access ports are opened to ensure better air flow, and humidity.
Air ducting system cleaning standard follows NADCA's standards (NADCA - North American Die Casting Association.
If you have fiber-glass duct board, soft-bristled vacuum brushes are used. Standards used in cleaning fiber-glass are preferably by North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA).
Holes, on air ducts may need to be sealed or replaced with an air duct when needed.
How do you determine if the air duct cleaners have done a good job?
Make an ocular inspection of your home, if they have already informed you that they are done with the cleaning. Do not settle for just photos.
Let the air cooling and heating system run to check for leaks and functionality efficiency.
As a guide, when you are making the ocular inspection, see the checklist before if they have met the categories.
Did the air duct cleaner gain access to and clean the entire heating and cooling system from ductwork to drain pans, humidifiers, coils, and fans?
Has the air duct cleaner clearly established that ductwork and plenums are clean? (Plenum is a space in which the return air is sorted; can be duct, joist space, attic and crawl spaces, or wall cavity.)
Is the heat exchanger surface thoroughly spotless?
Are both sides of the cooling coil thoroughly spotless?
If you point a flashlight into the cooling coil, does light bounce off to the other side? If the coil is clean, it should.
Are the coil fins straight and evenly spaced (as opposed to being bent over and smashed together)?
Is the coil drain pan completely clean and draining properly?
Are the blower blades clean and free of grease and debris?
Is the blower compartment free of dust or debris?
Is the return air plenum free of visible dust or debris?
Do filters fit suitably and are they the exact efficiency component as recommended by HVAC system manufacturer?
Is the supply air plenum free of moisture stains and contaminants?
Are interior ductwork surfaces free of debris?
Do all fiber glass material in good condition (i.e., free of tears and abrasions; well adhered to underlying materials)?
Are newly installed access doors in sheet metal ducts attached with more than just duct tape such as screws, rivets, mastic, etc.)?
With the system running, does the air leak through the access doors or covers very slight or non-existent?
Do all registers, grilles, and diffusers been firmly reattached to the walls, floors, and/or ceilings?
Are the registers, grilles, and diffusers visibly clean?
Does the system function properly in both the heating and cooling modes after cleaning?