What you need to know about the contaminants in your furnace ducts

contaminants in ducted furnaceHVAC Systems can collect a ton of contaminants that could be detrimental to your health, things like mold, fungi, bacteria, as well as tiny or microscopic particles of dust. Getting rid of these items has been proven to improve indoor air quality, which typically has a positive effect on your overall health.

How often should you clean your HVAC system?

There are quite a few things to consider when deciding how often you clean your system, homeowner preference being one of the primary reasons. Some of the things that might help you decide to clean on a much more frequent basis are if you have smokers in your house, heavy shedding pets, or any damage or water contamination in the system or home itself. Other reasons include, but aren’t limited to, people living in the home with asthma or allergies that would benefit from the lower contaminants, after a renovation/remodel, or before moving into a new home.

How long does an HVAC cleaning usually take?

The time to clean an HVAC system can vary based on many factors such as the size of the home, how many systems you have, how bad the contamination is, and the number of cleaners on the job. Check with multiple contractors for estimates on your cleaning, asking for their estimate on how long the cleaning will take. This will give you an idea of how long the cleaning should take, it will also allow you to gauge how thorough the contractor will be while doing the cleaning.

How do you clean an HVAC system?

The best way to clean ducts and ventilation systems is using the Source Removal method to clean your system. You need a contractor for this job, they complete it by using a special, high power vacuum. This places negative pressure on the system. The vacuum sucks air through the system while devices are fed through the ducts to knock an debris loose from the interior surfaces. Once loose the debris runs down through the ducts until it hits the vacuum, taking it out of the system, leaving the home clean.

How do you know if the cleaning actually worked?

The best, and most obvious, way to tell if your cleaning worked is by visually checking things out before and after the job is completed. If there is any visible sign of debris or dust in the ducts after the vacuum is done then the cleaning shouldn’t be considered clean. You can check things out for yourself but any good HVAC cleaning contractor will have tools available and will help you to inspect things, and will help you in your process. They should always follow a final cleaning checklist to make sure things are thoroughly cleaned.

What should be my criteria for choosing an HVAC system cleaner?

You should bring in multiple contractors and run them all through the ringer. You should request they come to your home and check your system before you allow them to quote you a price. There are a few qualifying questions you should use when you’re narrowing down the field of potential contractors:

  • Make sure the contractor you’re looking at is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), and still in good standing with the Association.
  • Make sure the company has been around long enough to actually have experience in the field.
  • Be certain that the company is licensed and insured.
  • Check for their certification with NADCA clean HVAC systems.
  • Make sure they’re going to clean and visually inspect everything associated with your system.
  • Don’t fall for the “whole house specials” or any of the typical sales gimmicks.
  • Get references from neighbors and friends and make sure that the company has the proper equipment for the job.

What is the typical HVAC cleaning price range?

The EPA says that an HVAC system cleaning should range between $450 and $1000 based on services offered, the size of your system, how accessible the system is, your climate region, duct material and how bad the contamination is in the area.

Be careful not to fall for companies promising major health benefits based on their cleaning. You should also beware not to fall for the “blow-and-go” companies that are on the market. “Blow-and-go” companies typically do a poor job at a nominal fee, meaning you’ll miss out on most of the benefits of a clean HVAC system. These companies will try luring you into things that you don’t really need, or slip in the bill to snake more money.

(If you ever come across one of these “blow-and-go” companies, report them to your local BBB in order to have something done about them.)