Are you wondering if you should have your air ducts professionally cleaned?
For general maintenance, we typically recommend that you have your air ducts cleaned every 5 – 7 years. However, there are specific occurrences and circumstances that signal a more acute need for HVAC system cleaning. To better help you evaluate if this service is warranted for your home or office, we’ve compiled a list of the most common indicators that the HVAC system is in need of a good cleaning.
SEVEN REASONS TO GET YOUR DUCTS CLEANED
1. BUYING A “NEW” HOME
In the event that you are moving into a home that is new to you, but has had previous owners, it’s always a good idea to have the HVAC system cleaned first. Who knows how many critters have lived in that house over the years, or how many cigarettes were smoked in the various rooms; just as you shouldn’t use the previous owner’s toothbrush, you shouldn’t breathe the previous owner’s air either.
Materials that can accumulate in ductwork over the lifetime of a homeowner include: pet dander, human hair, human skin cells, pollen, dust mite parts, and mold and other fungal infections.
Better to start life in your new home fresh!
2. NEW CONSTRUCTION OR REMODEL
Given the fact that Houston knows only two seasons: summer (hot) and almost summer (not quite as hot), it’s very likely that your A/C will be on throughout any home or office remodeling projects, or perhaps just running as soon as possible as might be the case with a newly constructed home or office. While the cooling air is a necessity in an enclosed space where people are doing manual labor, it can cause big problems for you’re A/C system. The main issue is drywall dust, which is so fine that it doesn’t matter how often you change the filter—if the A/C system was on during construction, there will be dust in the air ducts.
It’s very important to make sure that all the dust and debris is removed; if it remains, drywall dust will build up and can then provide an excellent opportunity for mold or mildew growth… let’s just say, drywall dust is a superfood in the fungi world.
But the threat of mold is not the only worry. Excess dust makes your A/C system work overtime, which can cause the HVAC system to break down under the extra workload. And, given the status of being hot, or not quite as hot, we definitely don’t want you to be without a working A/C!
3. EXCESS DUST
Have you noticed that dust is accumulating around your home or office more quickly than it used to? It’s possible that your HVAC system is responsible for your extra housework! If your ductwork is filled with dust, the air flying through your ductwork is picking up that dust and depositing it on your kitchen counters, on your shelves, creating a fine layer of dust over your cup of coffee in the morning—yuck!
Read about our five point cleaning system.
4. DEBRIS BLOWING OUT OF VENTS
When you get into your office in the morning, do you find little dust bunnies scattered all over your desk? When you look up, do you see their little bunny friends dangling from the A/C vent overhead? If so, then it’s definitely time to have those ducts cleaned. Ductwork in commercial buildings is often lined with fiberglass insulation, which not only helps the cold air stay cold as it moves from the A/C unit to your office, but also reduces the humming mechanical A/C noise from traveling through the ductwork. Over time, the insulation can deteriorate, especially if it has been infected with mold. Once the insulation starts deteriorating: here comes deter dustytail, hopping down the bunny trail, leaving little specs of dirt and mold…
If this sounds like your office, let your building facilities manager know, and give them our name. We have a couple of options in this situation—we can treat the insulation with an anti-fungal/anti-microbial coating, or seal the insulation down with a sealant for internally-lined ductwork. In either case, we tell those bunnies to SCRAM!
5. VISIBLE MOLD GROWTH
Sometimes the fungal growth in the HVAC system is so pervasive that it literally begins to climb out of the air conditioning system and into your home. This is a sure-fire sign that you need to have your ducts cleaned. It’s important to note that this fungal growth can’t be solved by simply cleaning the outside of the vents. The inside of the ductwork is going to be just as infected. Power Vac America’s solution will be to treat the whole system with an antifungal, anti-microbial coating that is registered with the EPA for use in ductwork.
Check out our article on the life cycle of a mold spore here: Life Cycle of a Mold Spore.
6. ALLERGIES & RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS
Have you noticed that you’re sneezing more, or getting headaches for no reason when you are at home or at your office, and then whenever you leave, those symptoms tend to disappear? This is a good indication that there is something in the inside air that’s making you ill, something like mold or dust build-up. Dirty ducts won’t always cause indoor air allergies, but it is more likely with people have more sensitive respiratory tracts, like babies, the elderly, asthmatics, people recovering from surgery or hospitalizations, or anyone else whose immune system is otherwise compromised. In these situations, it’s very important to make sure that the air they are breathing is not causing them to be more vulnerable.
Besides mold, another allergy irritant frequently found in ductwork is pet dander. Even if you do not own a pet, if the previous owners of your home had a dog or cat then you may be suffering from allergies from residual pet dander that is entering the air in your home every time you turn on your A/C.
Read more on the health effects of poor indoor air quality on our website.
Are there musty odors wafting through the air, and do they mysteriously disappear when the A/C is off? If so, it’s possible that there is fungal or bacterial growth in your A/C’s air handler unit or in the insulation just inside the vent covers. Sometimes it takes an on-site visit to determine the source of the musty odors, but if it is in fact caused by mold or mildew inside the HVAC system, then we can treat those areas and make sure that your home stops offending your olfactory senses.
In some particular (and less common) instances, the strange odors might be caused by what is known in the HVAC industry as “Dirty Sock Syndrome.” This is caused by pitted erosion of the grille in the air handler unit, which then gets infected with bacterial growth. It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to treat. However, it is also very uncommon. To learn more, read our blog post about Dirty Sock Syndrome.
For more information on odor and fungal growth, read about our IAQ Assessments.
Give us a call using the number above if you have any questions about the blog post, or need to schedule residential, commercial, or industrial work. We are happy to answer any questions you have!