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Does Your Home Need Duct Cleaning?

Man examining duct through a vent - Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing

Within your Cincinnati home sits a network of ducts that deliver conditioned air to all living areas. Airflow deposits contaminants within the ducts over time, and certain issues create the need for duct cleaning.

Contaminants inside the duct system create problems inside the home, exposing occupants to allergens and other potentially harmful matter. Clean up your ducts and keep your home cleaner with better indoor air quality when you schedule an appointment for duct cleaning service. The HVAC professionals of Thomas & Galbraith explain the duct cleaning process to you and share more important information regarding this service.

Why Are Dirty Ducts a Problem?

As air circulates throughout the home, contaminants are spread. Inside your home’s ductwork, airborne particles fall out of suspension, settling within the duct’s interior – just like they settle on surfaces within your home, making them appear dusty or dirty. 

Other issues within the duct system add contaminants. Mold growth within ducts or the HVAC system, rodent and bug infestations, and air leaks within ductwork all add new contaminants that can build up in the ducts.

These contaminants in your home’s ductwork pose a problem, as they are likely to be picked up by circulating air and carried back into the home. Those with allergies or asthma are exposed to more of their triggers, which causes symptoms more frequently. Mold can damage your ducts and HVAC system, but also spread throughout your home via air circulation – this also puts your family at risk of health issues caused by mold exposure. These ductwork contaminants create odors, unwanted health symptoms, and even reduced HVAC efficiency, necessitating duct cleaning to rid your home of these issues.

When to Schedule Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is a service required in the home only as the need arises, not on a regular schedule, such as HVAC preventive maintenance tune ups. Some conditions create the need for duct cleaning, including:

Mold/Mildew in the Ducts

If your home smells musty across all living areas, this symptom is telling of possible mold and/or mildew growth within your home’s ducts or on the cooling system’s evaporator coil. If you look at the coil, you may be able to see mold, or it may exist somewhere inside your ducts where warmth and moisture are present.

If this smell fades when your HVAC system is not cycling, this is a strong indicator that the issue is somewhere within the system. A home’s occupants get used to the odor over time, which can make it more difficult to detect, though guests may easily point out the smell upon entry. Have your HVAC system inspected for mold growth and schedule duct cleaning if found to remove mold growth and mildew, stop the smell, and prevent regrowth.

Pest Infestations

Pests in the duct system leave behind traces that can be harmful if circulated into your home. Mice and other rodents as well as cockroaches and other insects commonly gain access to your duct system from outside or by entering your attic, crawlspace, basement, or living areas, through cracks in the system or by damaging the ducts themselves. 

Pests live in your ducts, use them to move about your home, build nests, and even die within them. In addition to the damage they cause, they leave droppings, carcasses, and other debris within the ducts, with the potential to spread disease. This problem must be remedied with appropriate pest control measures, repairing damage, preventing access, and duct cleaning.

Contaminant Buildup

If the surfaces inside your living areas become dirty faster, despite regular cleaning and vacuuming of your supply vents, buildup within the duct system is a possible cause. High concentrations of contaminants in the duct system easily circulate into the home – duct cleaning removes the hidden buildup and keeps your home’s interiors cleaner.

Unexplained Allergies

If someone in your household experiences allergy symptoms that cannot be traced to another source in the home, contaminants in your ductwork are a possible cause. Duct cleaning removes hidden contaminants in the duct system to eliminate allergens trapped within. If all other measures have been taken to eliminate allergy triggers in the home yet symptoms persist, try duct cleaning.

Construction Projects

Construction projects create a great amount of dust and tiny particulates that are able to be picked up by airflow and deposited inside the home’s ducts. Especially when construction projects involve asbestos abatement or lead paint removal, it is important to protect your household from exposure after the project is completed.

It’s recommended that duct openings are sealed during renovations or other construction work in the home – if they are not, buildup of these materials is likely to occur. Newly built homes typically see a significant volume of construction material particles deposited inside the duct system, such as drywall dust, insulation fibers, and sawdust. Anytime you move into a newly built home or complete a construction project within your existing home, schedule duct cleaning to remove the traces left behind without your knowledge.

New Homes

When you move into a home that has been previously occupied by someone else, duct cleaning is a good idea. The former occupants could have amassed significant contaminant buildup in the ducts due to indoor pets, smoking indoors, and other factors.  Duct cleaning removes unknown contaminants to prevent poor indoor air quality and negative health issues that have the potential to occur when you move.

The Duct Cleaning Process

When you have duct cleaning services performed by an HVAC professional, contaminant buildup is removed from your duct system while its integrity is safeguarded through the use of proper tools and techniques. Technicians take great care to prevent spreading contaminants from your ducts into your living areas. The first step is to assess the duct system to measure contamination volume, leaks that need addressed, and the potential for asbestos-containing materials in place – these mustn’t be disturbed, or your family could be exposed to these dangerous carcinogens.

Since the supply and return duct systems are separated, the duct cleaning process is repeated on both sides of the system. The duct cleaning process typically goes like this:

  1. An access point is identified, typically near the HVAC system’s air handler. Holes may need to be cut for proper access.
  2. A high-powered vacuum hose is connected to the access point, ran through your home, and connected to the vacuum receptacle outdoors.
  3. All diffusers, vents, registers, and grilles throughout the home are covered and sealed.
  4. The technician turns the vacuum on, creating negative pressure inside the ducts which helps clear loose contaminants. Contaminants are removed from the ducts, travelling through the vacuum hose into the receptacle.
  5. Special brushes are used to move throughout the ducts and dislodge buildup. Compressed air may also be utilized for removal of buildup.
  6. Diffusers, vent covers, registers, and grilles are removed for cleaning then reinstalled. 
  7. Additional components of your HVAC system are cleaned, including the heat exchanger and evaporator coil.
  8. Once the duct cleaning process is complete, technicians remove equipment, reinstall components removed for cleaning, and repair any damage done to allow access for cleaning.

When you have duct cleaning performed in your Cincinnati area home, allot three to five hours for the service to be completed. The amount of time required to perform professional duct cleaning varies based on the size of your home and type of ductwork, how easy it is to access your ducts, the number of HVAC systems you have, and how much contamination buildup exists within the ducts. Multiple technicians help the job go faster.

Why You Don’t Want to DIY this Job

Duct cleaning is not a job you should attempt yourself. The use of inadequate tools and techniques risks damage to your home’s ducts, such as dislodged connections, tears in flexible ducts, and more. You may not even realize damage has occurred if you attempt to deep dive into your duct system to clean unseen areas. This damage creates the potential for new contamination through resulting air leaks and loss of heating and cooling system efficiency that leads to discomfort in the home as well as higher energy bills.

While you don’t want to attempt a thorough duct cleaning on your own, there are measures to take that help reduce contamination buildup inside your home’s ducts.

  • Change your furnace filter regularly. Use the filter manufacturer’s filter change frequency recommendation as a guideline while examining the filter’s condition each month to determine if more frequent changes are needed in your home.
  • Clean register covers and grilles to rid your home of debris that stick to these components. Turn off your HVAC system and remove the component. Thoroughly wipe down the component to remove debris, or wash it in warm, soapy water and a scrub brush to cut through tough deposits. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust, dirt, and other debris from around the opening and down into the duct.

Schedule Duct Cleaning with Thomas & Galbraith Today!

Eliminate dirty duct problems in your Cincinnati home when you schedule an appointment for duct cleaning service! Our NATE-certified HVAC professionals take great care to thoroughly clean out debris and contaminant buildup while protecting the integrity of your home’s duct system and the cleanliness of your living areas. 

Call Thomas & Galbraith today to schedule duct cleaning services in your Cincinnati area home.

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