Sunday, August 18, 2019 | Updated at 12:38 AM ET


Do HVAC Air Duct Cleaning Really Work - Scam or Worth It?

First Posted: May 28, 2019 05:25 PM EDT

HVAC air duct cleaning is a hot topic as people are growing more concerned for the state of their health, and indoor air quality plays a big part in it. However, as discussed as the topic is, it has sparked quite a controversy as some view hiring a duct cleaning service provider as an expensive scam, while others back this idea as they believe a big difference is made when it comes to healthfulness at home.

Is duct cleaning needed?

The growing concern with regard to indoor air quality among modern individuals is excusable as our planet suffers because of pollution enough as it is, not even our home feeling safe anymore. A lot of firms speculate and market merchandise and services that are supposed to enhance indoor air quality, targeting our vulnerability to this subject.

Q: What does it refer to?

A: It's a service provided by firms that use vacuums, chemical cleanup compounds, and brushes to clean the inside of HVAC coils and AC ducts, claiming to assist in air quality increase.

Q: How is it performed?

A: Specialty tools are used to dislodge dirt in the ductwork, which makes the contaminants loose and airborne, afterward being vacuumed out with a powerful system.

As the Environmental Protection Agency states, analysis is inconclusive on this subject, really, because it hasn't been clearly proved for duct cleanup to forestall health issues. However, what is undeniable is that situations differ from one household to another and while in some situations it is not an imperative procedure, in other circumstances it can actually make a big difference.

You should consider this course of action when:

  • There's visible mold/mildew growth within the ducts or on other components of the heating and cooling system;

  • Dust or debris piles to the point where it clogs ductwork;

  • There are household members who smoke indoors;

  • There's proof of rodent/animal infestation;

  • There are household members who suffer from allergies or asthma.

How it benefits you

  1. Raised AC efficiency: As there's no more dust or debris inside the system, your air conditioner is sure to enhance in efficiency as air flow is increased, which ultimately translates to lower operational costs as well. You can figure out if cleanup is needed if you notice a drastic drop in the air conditioner's performance that isn't related to other issues as you have performed the required routine tasks on it.

  2. Potential enhancement of respiratory health: If there actually are considerable issues with AC system contamination, air quality is bound to improve through the cleaning process, as well as your respiratory health as health-threatening particles won't be released into the air anymore.

  3. Prevention of mold/mildew growth: If mold growth is visible, the spores released into the air can cause mold infestation indoors. Sure, other issues might emerge and cause this issue, like high humidity levels that you must tackle through the use of a dehumidifier, but at least you eliminate a potential source.

Tips to forestall contamination

  • Use an efficient air filter for the HVAC system;

  • Don't stall the process of changing filters as indicated by the manufacturing company;

  • Check for no gaps to surround the filter holder so that the contaminated air doesn't bypass the filtration process and use a sealant to fix this issue if it exists;

  • Use an air purifier if dust is a major issue in your home, and make sure that you vacuum regularly, preferably using a HEPA vacuum cleaner.

Contracting service providers for the task

You can find a company that provides ductwork cleaning services by either searching online, in the Yellow Pages, or by contacting the NADCA. Nevertheless, you should proceed with caution when hiring a service provider and take certain aspects into consideration to make sure you don't get scammed or hassled:

  • Completely avoid companies that claim to be certified by the EPA as the agency does not certify any firm in this field, so it is likely for the service providers to try and scam you.

  • Interview the potential service provider to check compliance with NADCA cleaning standards.

  • Ask to see if the company has any relevant state licenses.

  • Check if complaints against the company have been lodged to county/city office of consumer affairs.

Conclusion - It all depends on the situation at hand

As you probably already concluded by this point, there's no definite answer for all situations. Routine cleaning is not required as no evidence has been brought forward to prove that ductwork cleaning makes a real difference when it comes to indoor air quality or impact on the health of a home's inhabitants. Nonetheless, as aforementioned, there are special situations when it is indeed imperative to perform the procedure, but only in cases where dust, debris, or particulate contamination reaches worrying, visible levels. Under all other circumstances, delay the procedure as you only end up spending a hefty sum on a service that doesn't actually benefit you.

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