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The Truth About HVAC Duct Cleaning

April 25, 2022

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If you’ve seen this pipe-like structure running around your building, then you might already know what it is and its core purpose.

But for the rest, this is nothing but the duct system of an HVAC system. It is responsible for providing forced air into your house. They are usually made out of fiberglass, metal, or flexible plastic. Air ducts are usually round, but they can be shaped into anything based on how they can be properly routed throughout the house.

If the heating and cooling system is not regularly maintained, then dust, dirt, debris, and other airborne particles can get accumulated in the duct. And when there are dirty air ducts, then your HVAC system needs to work harder, which, in turn, can increase the operating cost.

Such issues might point towards the need for frequent air duct cleaning. But how frequent is too much? Is regular duct cleaning really required? Let’s find out.

The truth about getting air ducts cleaned

It is very important to keep your HVAC system cleaned and in the best shape. There are certain situations when you have to clean the HVAC duct and, in some cases, change it completely. Let us look into the different instances when you need to clean or change the duct –

  • If you notice any deterioration of tapes, adhesives, and sealants
  • If you have recently renovated or remodeled a home, making the existing ductwork design inadequate
  • If you notice rodent nests or damages caused to insects
  • If you find that the ductwork is sealed improperly
  • If you see large mold growth inside your HVAC system

However, in some cases, you do not have to clean the HVAC duct, and it will be just a waste of time and money. In fact, many national air duct cleaners and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that regular air duct cleaning is not required except on an as-needed basis. Here are different instances when you do not have to clean the duct –

To improve airflow

In the majority of situations, unclean ducts aren’t the reason for improper or reduced airflow. If you’re facing an airflow issue like lack of cooling or heating, hot or cold spots in your house, then cleaning the duct won’t be a permanent solution.

Remember – the impurities in the duct are minuscule particles that have settled in your duct over a period of time. Cleaning these particles wouldn’t rebalance your duct system or increase the airflow. More importantly, it also cannot seal any breaches in the duct system, which is an important reason for poor airflow.

To professionally address the airflow issues, a flow hood test should be conducted to measure the volume of air pushed through the system. A thorough duct inspection should also be conducted. Based on the results, you might have to –

  • Redesign the entire duct system
  • Add airflow balancing dampers
  • Enlarge all or some of the duct systems

During every HVAC maintenance

Your regular HVAC maintenance need not include duct cleaning services. You do not need to clean the duct regularly if –

  • You are regularly changing the filters as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • You ensure that the duct is properly sealed.
  • You clean floor registers with a vacuum every 6 months to avoid dust build-up.
  • You regularly check the cooling coils and heat exchangers of your HVAC system.

If you have recently done major remodeling, then the duct could be filled with dust and debris. In such instances, duct cleaning should be carried out. But once that’s done, you do not have to worry about it for some time.

To eliminate odor

Cleaning the duct alone would not help you get rid of all the odors coming from the system. Few maintenance companies use a microbial spray as part of cleaning your duct to get rid of this smell, but this is a temporary solution. To eliminate the odor completely, you need to address the source. This could be:

  • Fur deposits
  • Moisture buildup or mold growth
  • Rodents
  • Improperly sealed ductwork bringing outside air into the house

Air duct cleaning removes the particulate matter in the duct and not the odors or molds.

Pro-tip: It is best if you can upgrade the air purification system once the odors are removed, this would keep the air in your home clean and healthy.

Wrapping Up

The duct is arguably one of the most important components of the HVAC system. This very importance might encourage you to clean it regularly. It’s not wrong to clean the duct, but do not overdo it. Instead, focus on regular maintenance of the HVAC system and pay attention to replacing the purification and filtration system. It is always best to consult an HVAC contractor duct cleaning companies to understand the problem of your HVAC system and get a good solution to it instead of diagnosing and rectifying it yourself.



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