On calm, hot days in urban areas, ozone can descend on the city, making the air difficult to breathe, and causing problems for those with asthma or breathing problems. Even those who live in rural areas can experience air pollution from dusty dirt roads, wildfires, and campfires. Air that is tainted by pollutants may drive individuals indoors, and cities may even release warnings for those with health concerns to stay inside during bad days.
However, what many do not realize is that many people are suffering unknowingly from indoor air that is many times worse than outside air. This happens because when pollutants are released in the home, they often become trapped, making pollution levels inside the home increase over time. Pollution can be bad for your lungs and can even cause the skin to age faster. Many homeowners in Champaign are looking for small ways to improve the quality of the air inside their homes. Air Duct Cleaning can be one way for them to achieve this goal.
If you have a heating and cooling system that requires ductwork, you may have heard your technician mention duct cleaning. It isn’t always part of a normal maintenance plan, so it may never have been done in your home. Here are some of the benefits of duct cleaning, as well as tips on how to decide if a cleaning is necessary and how to choose a company for the job.
What is Ductwork?
If you have a ducted air conditioning system in your home, you will have small ducts hidden in the walls of your home delivering cool and fresh air to each room in your house. Many ducts also help to pump warm air out of the rooms. Not all air conditioners have ducts. Ductless mini-split air conditioners are often used in smaller spaces to cool the room without installing ductwork.
While there are many upsides to having a ducted system, such as superior airflow and hidden air conditioning systems rather than visible ones, there is some discussion about whether dust and other particles trapped inside the ducts can be blown into the home and cause health problems.
How do Pollutants Enter the Home?
Indoor pollutants can come from many different places, and while one source by itself may not be enough to cause health problems when putting together, the effects can be extremely damaging. Both old and new homes can be affected by some of these contaminants, so it is important to not exclude yourself just because your home is new.
Some houses may be built on a type of earth that releases radon gas. This gas has been shown to cause lung cancer in otherwise healthy patients and is a big concern for indoor air pollution experts. Homeowners should consider getting kits to test the amount of radon in their homes, and to stop smoking if radon levels are a concern.
Pollution can also enter the home from first-hand or second-hand smoking. Without proper ventilation, tobacco smoke can linger, causing irritation, and even more serious problems such as lung cancer. Smoke can also enter the home from fireplaces and stoves, and improperly vented heaters using gas or propane can fill the air with carbon monoxide.
Homes can also become contaminated by pollen and other allergens from outside, bacteria, mold, dander from pets, dust mites, and substances left behind by pests such as mice or cockroaches. Urine from pets and rodents can also dry and become airborne, causing health problems.
Finally, chemical cleaning products and pesticides can become concentrated in the home, especially when proper ventilation is not used during the usage of these products. Prolonged exposure to these items can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, memory problems, and more.
What Part do Ducts Play in the Transfer of Contaminants?
Although poor indoor air quality can be mostly blamed on other factors such as poor ventilation, broken or leaking appliances, indoor smoking, and excessive use of chemical cleaners without ventilation, the heating and air conditioning ducts in the home can play a part in indoor pollution. Dust, mold, bacteria, viruses, urine from pests, and other substances can build up in the ducts. These contaminants may have the ability to be pushed into the home from the ducts when air is being forced through. Ducts can also transfer certain contaminants, such as cigarette smoke, from room to room, meaning that pollutants are not necessarily confined to one area.
Will Regular Duct Cleaning Solve the Problem?
It is important to remember that duct cleaning by itself will not solve all of your indoor pollution problems. If you or your family members are experiencing health problems, it is important to get down to the root of the problem. However, keeping ductwork free from mold, mildew, dust, and bacteria can certainly help.
If the cleaning is done properly, there are no negative side-effects to cleaning the ductwork, so getting it done regularly certainly would not be harmful, and may certainly be beneficial. However, to save their clients money, most companies restrict duct cleaning to when there is a noticeable health problem or when the buildup of dust or other particles can be clearly seen inside the ducts. Duct cleaning may not be needed as a routine maintenance step if the ducts are already clean.
Some Benefits of Regular Air Duct Cleaning
Although not a magical cure-all for indoor air pollution, having clean air ducts can be of great benefit to your family for more than one reason. Here are a few of the great benefits of clean ductwork.
Cleaner Air, Less Dusting
Having clean ducts can reduce the amount of housework that you have to do each week. Ducts that are filled with dust can push that dust back into the home each time the air is turned on. This dust can land on your surfaces, causing you to have to dust the house more frequently. By having clean ducts, you may find that you only have to dust once a week or once every two weeks, rather than every few days.
Makes the Home Healthier for Those with Allergies
Sufferers of severe allergies know that every little step helps when it comes to improving the indoor air quality and preventing allergens from coming inside. Cleaning the ducts is a wonderful bonus step for reducing the occurrence of pollen, dust, and pet dander from being cycled through the home and causing problems for people with allergies.
Keeps Lungs Healthy
Individuals with breathing conditions such as asthma, occupational lung disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, among others, should try to keep their indoor environments as clean as possible. One way to do this is to keep the ductwork free of irritants that may make the problem worse.
Rids the Air of Odors
Bacteria, mildew, and mold in the ducts can transfer bad smells into the home. If you have cleaned everything else, but there is still a bad odor in your home, cleaning your ducts is a great next step. Doing so can help keep your home smelling fresh and clean throughout the year.
Makes HVAC More Efficient
When the ducts are clogged with dust and debris, the HVAC system has to work that much harder to blow cold or warm air into the home. This can significantly reduce the efficiency of your system overall. Cleaning the ductwork will help you ensure that no energy is wasted while trying to cool or heat the home. Many people report savings on their yearly utilities after investing in ductwork cleaning.
Peace of Mind
If you or a family member suffers from health problems, having your ductwork cleaned can greatly promote your peace of mind. Knowing that your ductwork is clean and not contributing to your symptoms can be very helpful and comforting.
How to Make a Decision About Ductwork Cleaning
With lots of conflicting information on the internet, it can be hard to decide whether or not to invest in ductwork cleaning in your particular circumstances. However, here are a few helpful indications that air duct cleaning will be helpful in your situation. If you are unsure, you can always contact your HVAC service provider and discuss your concerns and questions with them. They will be happy to help you make an informed decision.
Family Members with Health Problems
If you have any family members with health problems such as autoimmune diseases, cancer, allergies, asthma, or more, it will likely be beneficial for you to clean the ducts regularly. Doing so can help to protect the health of your family by minimizing pollutants that enter the living spaces.
Visible Mold or Dust Buildup
If you look into your ductwork and see a thick coating of mold, dust, debris, and other contaminants, you are a good candidate for duct cleaning. As mentioned before, ducts that have visible amounts of these substances may contribute to poor health and may cause your system to run less effectively. It is helpful to inspect your ducts on a regular basis or have your technician inspect them during a regular heating and air conditioning maintenance appointment.
Mice, Rats, or Insect Infestation
No one wants vermin scuttling through their ductwork. Pests like mice, rats, or insects can leave behind waste that is harmful to your family. If you notice any type of pest invading your ducts, you are a good candidate for ductwork cleaning. Doing so will not only rid your home of the pests, but it will also clean your ducts of whatever contaminant attracted the pests to the ducts in the first place.
The Importance of Proper Procedure During Ductwork Cleaning
The importance of proper duct cleaning methods and procedures cannot be stressed enough. Hiring a company that does not know how to properly clean the ducts can cause more harm than good to your family and your home.
Incorrect procedure during the cleaning process can result in the contaminants in the ducts to be distributed back to the home. Insufficient vacuum filtration can blow dust and other substances into the home. Not only this, but an unqualified or inexperienced service provider may also cause damage to your ducts or to other parts of your HVAC system, leaving you with expensive repairs or replacements.
When setting up an appointment with your service provider, be sure to ask a few key questions before letting them loose in your ductwork. Here are a few things that you should check before proceeding with the company. Check that the company:
- Uses a vacuum system that either exhausts outdoors or is equipped with a HEPA filter to keep particles from entering the home.
- Checks for asbestos before continuing to avoid kicking asbestos into the air. (Asbestos should only be removed by companies trained in asbestos removal.)
- Places coverings on nearby furniture, carpet, and appliances to protect them from dust and debris.
- Uses the appropriate brushes for the material that your ducts are made out of.
- Has the proper procedure for protecting your HVAC from damage and injury, and always seals holes after completing the work.
- Opens all doors, vents, and ports in the entire ductwork system to ensure that every nook and cranny in the ductwork is thoroughly cleaned.
- Has a commitment to adhere to all standards and procedures set down by organizations such as the NDCA and NAIMA.
After the work is complete, check to make sure that all of the components, including the coils, blowers, ducts, vents, doors, ports, and heat exchangers are clean and free from dust and debris. Make sure that there is no sign of damage anywhere in the system and that new doors are installed correctly. Finally, turn on your air to confirm that your system is working. If everything was done correctly, and all holes were sealed, your system should be working better than it was before.
How to Find the Right Company for the Job
With so much at stake, it can be difficult to find the right company for the job. However, you can use these tips to find a company that will do an excellent job without overcharging. Here are some things to look for.
Honesty and Good Information
Many companies recommend, or even force, duct cleaning on customers regardless of their situation and without considering their specific needs first. A good company will provide straightforward and honest information about duct cleaning. Although there are many acknowledged benefits of duct cleaning, avoid companies who are just trying to sell you a service.
Check the online reviews of the company that you are considering. Although there are always sure to be a few negative reviews on any company that you research, be sure that the majority of customers were pleased with both the customer service and the services that were provided. Steer clear of any companies with predominantly negative reviews.
In addition to online recommendations from strangers, it can be extremely helpful to get personal recommendations from friends or family members who have already used the company for their HVAC needs. Getting an honest review from a trusted source can help you find a company that will do a great job without charging exorbitant fees for their services.
Safe Duct Cleaning Procedures
As mentioned before, it is important to only hire a company that is committed to safe and healthy duct cleaning procedures. Do not be afraid to make a phone call and speak to a technician to find out more about what steps are taken to keep your home free from contaminants during the cleaning process. Use the above list as a guideline, and ask any other questions that you have.
In addition to recommendations from customers, the company should also have good ratings with the Better Business Bureau and other reputable sources. Avoid any business that has complaints filed against them on any of these sites.
It is important to ensure that the company you are researching has the correct licenses. Always hire a company that can provide written proof of their licensure. Some states require special licenses for duct cleaning, so see if your state is one of these.
Make sure that the company you choose comes with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. This means that if they do an unsatisfactory job, you can have the job redone or get your money back. This significantly increases the likelihood that the job will be completed expertly. The company should be able to provide you with these guarantees in written form.
Duct cleaning can be extremely beneficial for your family and your home. Whether your family suffers from allergies or is noticing a bad smell or pests in the ducts, having a reputable company come and clean the ductwork can help to reduce allergies, improve the air quality inside your home, and give you peace of mind. If you are in the Champaign area and are wondering if duct cleaning services would be a good investment for your home, contact your trusted HVAC service provider to speak to a technician about your questions and concerns.