Here in the Valley, we have been known to see a little dust storm now and then. Or maybe more than a little dust. You keep your house clean. You dust. You vacuum. You brush the dog. But, still, you have sinusitis, sneezing, hives, or itchy eyes.
How can dirt, bacteria, fungus, and mold spores get in your HVAC venting?
First, you have to understand that there is an average amount of moisture created by your air conditioning unit. But, over time, the a/c unit may lose some efficiency, which could trigger mold growth.
Some other reasons you might consider having your vents cleaned:
1. Your HVAC is old or running poorly, or you’ve used improperly fitting filters
2. You had a roof leak or pipe burst, and water got into the vent work.
3. You had a grease fire in your kitchen or had some remodeling done
4. You smell distinctly musty scent, smell the mold
5. You’ve had bats, birds, or small rodents living or nesting in your ventilation system.
6. You can see mold on the register or in the vent when you remove the vent cover.
7. You have a new home or recently built edition onto your home.
8. You have pets that shed or have dander or a smoker lives/lived in the home.
9. You see dust blowing out of your vents when the HVAC system turns on.
10. It has been 3-5 years since the last time you had the vents cleaned (especially for people with respiratory issues).
Unless you have the right equipment and knowledge, doing the cleaning yourself isn’t a good option. That means you have to start looking for a skilled-someone to do the job for you. Do you think that guy who offers to do it for $50 is going to brush the foreign matter off the vents and vacuum it out properly?
No. Crazy-low prices are only offered by a duct cleaning service so they can ‘find’ mold in your system, who tell you your system needs extensive cleaning or needs some other ‘special’ repair or product. Ventilations systems which are improperly cleaned can be damaged, resulting in expensive repairs.
National Air Duct Cleaners Association has a website. They are a not-for-profit trade association that serves the HVAC inspection, maintenance, and restoration industry. You can go on their website. They know who the reputable firms in your area and can put you in contact with one.
NADCA’s website offers a checklist for the homeowner, and other interesting information, including an Inside Edition segment of a duct cleaning scammer, caught on video. NADCA guidelines demand that every component that air passes over be addressed, not just the ducts, themselves. This process involves two or more technicians, specialized equipment and several hours. One can see why $50 isn’t a realistic price.
The cost for an average duct cleaning process depends on the number of vents and trunk lines in your system. The more vents and trunks, the higher the price.
A negative pressure vacuum collection and other equipment which will remove the debris from your home entirely, not just blow it out the ducts into your home. Some are handheld and others are truck mounted. While the truck-mounted units are more powerful, the handheld ones are more portable. A variety of pneumatic equipment, mirrors, drones, and other items are used to help the process.
Sometimes a duct cleaning service will recommend chemical biocides or ozone into the ductwork if mold, bacteria or future growth of these organisms in your system. However, the EPA does not recognize the effectiveness of these products, some of which can cause adverse reactions in certain people.
The EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned routinely, but only as needed — such as when mold, pests or excessive debris clutter the system. Cleaning dirty coils and blowers can increase efficiency by as much as 40 percent, which is a substantial amount of money for any homeowner.
There is absolutely no conclusive proof that cleaning your air ducts will prevent health issues or improve air quality. In spite of this, there are many reports of anecdotal stories from people who tell of the benefits of having their ductwork cleaned. But, for people with allergies, any relief, regardless of whether it’s been scientifically proven or not, is sweet, indeed.