Should air ducts be cleaned? The answer to that question will depend upon the condition of your home’s ductwork. A professional inspection carried out by your HVAC contractor will determine if any of the following conditions exist which would indicate that IAQ solutions are called for:
- The presence of mold in your air conditioning and heating ducts or on any of the other parts of those systems. Mold thrives in areas that are exposed to constant moisture. Airborne mold spores can cause serious health problems in sensitive individuals, so it is important to correct problems that support mold growth in your ductwork.
- Odors apparently coming from your air supply ducts whenever your cooling or heating systems come on. Unpleasant odors from mold, mildew, household cleaners and fumes from fuel-burning equipment can all be circulated throughout your home by way of your ductwork.
- Evidence of rodents inhabiting your ductwork. Droppings, food scraps and accumulations of potential nesting materials would be strong indicators that you have a problem with mice or other animals in your ducts.
- Thick accumulations of dust or other debris in your ducts or on fan blades or other moving parts. Dust and dirt can inhibit airflow, clog filters and shorten the life of your HVAC equipment.
A well-constructed and properly maintained duct system should not require frequent cleaning, so the presence of any of the conditions listed above could indicate that your ductwork needs repairs as well as cleaning. So, should air ducts be cleaned in your home? If the answer is “yes,” then you should have your HVAC contractor evaluate whether any of the following problems are contributing to the unclean condition of your ducts:
- Constant moisture leading to mold growth might indicate leaky ducts where they run through damp areas like your basement or crawlspace. Any duct insulation that is wet should be replaced when the source of moisture is identified and eliminated. Moisture buildup could also indicate short-cycling of your air conditioner due to improper equipment sizing that results in poor humidity control.
- Other odors circulating through your ducts might be coming from outside the ductwork. Ducts running through your garage or utility room could suck hazardous combustion fumes into your system if duct joints and seams are not sealed. If you have a workshop or other space where you use paint or other chemicals, be sure to provide adequate ventilation to the outside of your house so that fumes do not get sucked into your HVAC system via return air vents.
- The presence of rodents in your ductwork is a good indication that you have gaps in duct joints that need to be repaired. Gaps may occur due to deterioration of tape sealing the joints, mechanical separation due to settling or other movement of duct sections or faulty original installation.
- Abnormal dust or debris buildup inside your ducts may be caused by leaks in seams, gaps around filter housings or too infrequent filter changes. Should air ducts be cleaned? If you live on a gravel road or have indoor pets, the answer may be obvious to you without a detailed inspection.
If your ductwork is in good condition, change your filters at least once per season and more often if you have pets or live in a particularly dusty neighborhood. Vacuum the grates of your supply and return air registers to eliminate dust buildup. If dust or debris are visible in the ducts behind the registers, remove the covers and vacuum the ducts as far as your tools will easily reach.
Call us at Griffith Energy Services, Inc. to schedule routine maintenance of your cooling and heating systems. Our expert technicians can perform a detailed inspection of your ductwork to answer the question: Should air ducts be cleaned in my home? We can also check for and repair mechanical problems that might be leading to dirty ducts and energy losses. We have been serving customers throughout the greater Baltimore area for over a century, so we understand the problems that homeowners like you face in keeping your home comfortable and energy-efficient.
Written by Kevin Spain