More now than ever, the topic of cleaning air ducts is on the mind of many homeowners. With the rise of debilitating respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, allergies and chronic coughs, people concerned about their health and well-being are questioning whether they need to have their air ducts cleaned. If you’re spending most of your waking hours indoors, high-quality air is an important part of maintaining good health and keeping a clean and efficient airflow is crucial to facilitate that. This, of course, brings rise to many other questions—How much will it cost? Should I hire a professional? If so, then when? There are many different views on the subject and the answers aren’t always black and white. The overwhelming consensus, however, is that if you find your air ducts do need constant cleaning, you should contact a professional—there’s likely a bigger issue at hand and you don’t want to risk damage to your system.
Image Source: Green Air Solutions
Should I Have My Air Ducts Cleaned?
There are really two questions to answer here: Does it need cleaning? Possibly. Should you have it cleaned? That depends.
When there is enough demand for something, you’re sure to find people willing to build an industry around it, and air duct cleaning is no exception. Flip through any phone book or perform a quick Google search and you’ll be met with a whole host of companies willing to make the trip out to clean your ducts. Driven by the desire to keep their air quality pure, homeowners are often willing to pay big money to have their ducts cleaned if it means their health isn’t negatively affected. Unless your ducts are incredibly contaminated, however, it may not be worth it. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that studies have concluded duct cleaning has never actually been shown to prevent health issues. Furthermore, even if you are adversely affected by these household pollutants, unless the cause of accumulated dust and mold growth is addressed, cleaning your air ducts is only a temporary fix.
The EPA does not recommend regular air duct cleaning, but rather for it to be performed on an as-needed basis. If you’ve been living with clogged air ducts that have accumulated dust and debris for some time, having your them cleaned may be wise, even if it’s only until you can repair your system—dirty ducts, after all, are indicative of a deeper issue, not an issue with the ducts themselves. It’s also worth noting that not enough evidence currently exists to suggest that simply cleaning the ducts alone will improve an HVAC system’s performance. In this case, it’s crucial to address the root cause or you’ll be stuck in a cycle of having your ducts cleaned over and over again or risk damaging your system altogether.
Pros & Cons of Cleaning Your Air Ducts
Though it may not be necessary for every homeowner, there is a market for duct cleaning services and many still stand to benefit from it. The EPA may not currently have the research to show duct cleaning to improve health problem, but that doesn’t necessarily mean having them cleaned doesn’t, in some way, improve air quality or system performance. Possible advantages of cleaning may include:Improved air flow reduction in respiratory health issues potential to fight mold growth and dust accumulation Decrease in odors emitted from ductwork Provide peace of mind for homeowners.
In most cases, the cons of air duct cleaning outweigh the pros. As noted by the EPA, there is currently no concrete evidence to back up claims that regular air duct cleaning can improve health or even improve the functionality of your system. In any case, though, it can’t do your system particular harm. Possible disadvantages of duct cleaning may include:Improper cleaning can damage your ductwork Unnecessary if you use AC filters High cost for low return It can’t clean all of your ductwork.
What’s the Price of Cleaning?
For a service that is entirely optional, many will find air duct cleaning to be rather expensive. Prices often range from $600 to over $1000(Be wary of the service below $400) for a complete cleaning of your air conditioning system, though the accuracy of how “complete” that might be is controversial. Any company that offers a price that seems too good to be true is probably just that. If you are interested in getting your air ducts cleaned, contact a trusted professional who can do it right for a fair price.
When’s the Best Time to Clean?
The best time to clean your air ducts is when it’s needed… if it’s needed. If you highly suspect your air ducts need cleaning, it’s a good idea to have a contractor check it out before you do so. For regular dust and minor debris, investing in a good air filter should be the first step, however. If you’re experiencing higher than normal levels of mold growth, dust or dirt or feel that it’s negatively affecting your health, having them cleaned as soon as possible is advised, followed by an inspection of your HVAC system by a professional to diagnose the root cause. Evidence of animal infestation is also an indication that you should have your ducts cleaned. Similarly, if you’ve just purchased an older home, you may choose to have your ducts cleaned and inspected to ensure everything is running smoothly when the time comes to move in.
How to Use an Air Filter to Keep Your Ducts Clean
For many instances of increased dust and dirt in your air ducts, the cause comes down to improper use of your air filter. Purchasing high-quality, high-efficiency filters will make all the difference in not only the state of your system and air ducts, but the quality of air in your home. A high-efficiency filter(like 3M air filter) will keep out dust, debris, mold and allergens from your HVAC system and will ensure the air in your home is clean—something you’ll find that cheap filters just can’t do. With the use of a high-quality air filter, you’ll likely find a huge reduction in dust in your air ducts and the need for cleaning and will no longer be necessary, saving you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on service. Good air filters aren’t expensive either, and will run you somewhere between $15 to $20—well worth the price for the benefits.
With all things considered, deciding whether you need air duct cleaning will differ from building to building and home to home. While you shouldn’t trust the grand claims of amazing health benefits made by duct cleaning services, you may find that a one-time cleaning, coupled with the use of a high-efficiency filter will make a positive impact on the quality of your indoor air. Likewise, your system may stand to benefit from a reduction in dust and debris, especially if it’s been running inefficiently for years. When weighing your options, it’s important to do your research and find a company or contractor you can trust to give you all the facts. Most people won’t need to employ the use of such services, however, and many will notice a drastic difference in air quality simply by replacing or upgrading their air filter. For those affected by allergens and mold, it may not only prove to be the most effective fix but the most economical too.