Air Duct Cleaning

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Last updated: 
September 1, 2013

Air Duct Cleaning
By Betty Stephens

duct cleaning
Top Benefits of HVAC Cleaning
The reason for consumers is that “if the ducts look dirty, they probably are,” and that dirty HVAC systems should be inspected by a reputable, certified HVAC professional. The most important reasons homeowners choose to have their air ducts cleaned are:
1. Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is one concern that homeowners have when they decide to invest in air duct cleaning. In a typical six-room home, up to 40 pounds of dust is created annually through everyday living. A heating and cooling system is the lungs of a home. The system taken air in and breathes air out.
Through normal occupation in a home, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated five to seven times per day. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the duct work.
2. Energy Savings
When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-effectiveness.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use.
Preventive Maintenance
Decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, committing to a good preventive maintenance program is essential to minimize duct contamination. To prevent dirt from entering the system:
• Change filters regularly.
• Change them more frequently if your filters become clogged,
• Ask service providers to clean coils when having system maintained.
• Remove dust and vacuum your home regularly.
• Prevent ducts from becoming wet.
Cleaning with Chemical Biocides inside Air Ducts
No products are currently registered by EPA as biocides for use on fiberglass duct board or fiberglass lined ducts so it is important to determine if sections of your system contain these materials before permitting the application of any biocide.
Air duct cleaning service providers may tell you that they need to apply a chemical biocide to the inside of your ducts to kill germs, and fungi mold and prevent future biological growth. Some duct cleaning service providers may propose to introduce ozone to kill biological contaminants.
Very little research has been conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of most biocides and ozone when used inside ducts. Simply spraying or otherwise introducing these materials into the operating duct system may cause much of the material to be transported through the system and released into other areas of your home.
Chemical biocides are regulated by EPA under Federal pesticide law. A product must be registered by EPA for a specific use before it can be legally used for that purpose.   A small number of products are currently registered by EPA specifically for use on the inside of bare sheet metal air ducts. A number of products are also registered for use as sanitizers on hard surfaces, which could include the interior of bare sheet metal ducts. While many such products may be used legally inside of unlined ducts if all label directions are followed, some of the directions on the label may be inappropriate for use in ducts
Most organizations concerned with duct cleaning, including EPA, NADCA, NAIMA, and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) do not currently recommend the routine use of sealants in any type of duct.
See EPA Publication Reference: Residential Air Cleaners: A Summary of Available Information
To Learn More Contact: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air
Indoor Environments Division (6609J)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) Website:

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