Cleaning your ducts can be a big hassle, and one that can be easy to put off or even forget. For the most part, our air ducts are out of sight and out of mind. Unfortunately, leaving our air ducts unattended can have serious implications for the quality of the air in our home and the health of our families. Not only that, but keeping your ducts and vents clean can also save you money on your energy bills.
Unless you keep your windows and doors open 24/7, a large percentage of the air in your home has been circulated through your ventilation ducts. This is due, at least in part, to the growing popularity of energy-efficient doors and windows and heavier home insulation which prevents any fresh air from entering the home. While the energy savings from these practices is good for both the environment and our wallets, it also means that we are exposed to a greater concentration of airborne dust, debris and organisms that may have built up in the duct work.
Ducts, being dark, moist, temperature controlled environments make for a perfect breeding ground for many types of mold, fungus and bacteria, many of which can harm humans. That means whenever your heating or air conditioning system fires up, along with that rush of comfortable air comes a blast of these organisms, as well as dust and debris which can adversely affect respiration. That is why it is so important to keep your ducts clean.
There are two ways to go about cleaning your ductwork. The first utilizes a special hose that connects to the ducting to provide suction. A high pressure air hose, much like a vacuum cleaner, is run through the ducts, sucking out all the loose particulates that would otherwise be blowing around the interior of the system and eventually wind up in your home.
The second system uses a similar principle, but also includes a brush head to loosen any caked on material, the kind that generally harbors bacteria or fungi. This operation is not a DIY project; a professional should be contacted to ensure that the process is carried out thoroughly and safely.
Prices for duct cleaning services can vary wildly depending on your local economy, but average nationally between $90 and $125 per hour. The time it takes to clean your ducts is determined by the size of your home and the complexity of your HVAC system, but for most townhomes you can expect it to take between 3 and 5 hours. If you have multiple heating and cooling systems, or if your system is on the roof of the building, it can take much longer. Some unscrupulous hucksters may offer cleaning services at a much lower price, however you should be wary of their services; make sure you get a full run down of what they plan to do just in case.
When contracting someone to clean your HVAC system, it is important to know what you are getting for your money. A thorough cleaning service will include cleaning of all registers, inside the ducting, the furnace fan, and the coils inside your heat pump or air conditioner. If mold or fungi is suspected, a duct cleaning professional may recommend using a disinfectant fogger to kill any potentially harmful organisms.
If you want to have better air quality in your home, it is never too late to contact a professional and have your ducts cleaned. Although you may not be able to see the difference, your lungs will definitely notice and appreciate the improved air quality.