Top Benefits of HVAC Cleaning
NADCA’s rule of thumb for consumers is that “if your air ducts look dirty, they probably are,” and that dirty HVAC systems should be inspected by a reputable professional. Below are some other reasons homeowners choose to have their air ducts cleaned.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is one concern that homeowners have when they decide to investigate air duct cleaning. Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system taken air in and breathes air out.
Through normal occupation in a home, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the duct work.
While dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean unhealthy air in your home, school or workplace, they may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.
"THE E.P.A. RANKS POOR INDOOR AIR QUALITY
AMONG THE TOP FIVE ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS
TO PUBLIC HEALTH."
(American Lung Association)
"THOSE WHO ARE MOST SUSCEPTIBLE TO INDOOR
AIR POLLUTION ARE CHILDREN, PREGNANT
WOMEN, AND THE ELDERLY?' (National Safety Council)
"CONTAMINATED CENTRAL AIR HANDLING
SYSTEMS CAN BECOME BREEDING GROUNDS FOR
MOLD, MILDEW, AND OTHER SOURCES OF
(Environmental Protection Agency)
"50% OF ALL ILLNESS IS AGGRAVATED OR CAUSED
BY POLLUTED INDOOR AIR."
(American College of Allergies)
"LEVELS OF AIR POLLUTION INSIDE THE HOME
CAN BE TWO TO FIVE TIMES HIGHER THAN
OUTDOOR LEVELS." (Environmental Protection Agency)
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use.
When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-effectiveness.
Will HVAC system cleaning reduce our home energy bills?
Research by the U.S. EPA has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
Are there any health benefits that come from HVAC system cleaning?
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and very small particles of dust. The removal of such contaminants from the HVAC system and home should be considered as one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality.
How often should residential HVAC systems be cleaned?
Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the home owner. Some of the things that may lead a home owner to consider more frequent cleaning include:
- Smokers in the household.
- Pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander.
- Water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system.
- Residents with allergies or asthma who might benefit from a reduction in the amount of indoor air pollutants in the home’s HVAC system.
- After home renovations or remodeling.
- Prior to occupancy of a new home.
Proper Cleaning Methods
Air duct cleaning is a misnomer. In actuality, the entire HVAC system should be cleaned. Failure to clean all components of the system can result in recontamination of the entire system, thus minimizing the benefits of cleaning.
Just as you wouldn’t clean only half of your living room floor, you also would not want to clean only part of your HVAC system. NADCA recommends cleaning the entire HVAC system, including the following components:
- blower motor and assembly
There are two key components to HVAC cleaning: Breaking Contaminants Loose and Collection of Contaminants.
Breaking Contaminants Loose
Properly cleaning HVAC systems requires removing the sources of contamination. Source removal begins with the use of one or more agitation devices designed to loosen contaminants from the surfaces within the heating and air conditioning system. Examples of agitation devices include: brushes, air whips and compressed air nozzles or “skipper balls.” Agitation can also be achieved through hand-brushing or contact vacuuming.
Collection of Contaminants
During cleaning, the entire HVAC system is placed under continuous negative pressure (a vacuum) to prevent the spread of contaminants. Continuous negative pressure allows very fine particles to be removed from the system as they become airborne, ensuring that these particles are not released into the living space when the system is turned on after cleaning. This negative pressure also serves to extract the loosened contaminants, which are collected and removed from your home.
HVAC system cleaning is not a complex process, but each job is unique. Where possible, access to duct interiors should be made through existing openings such as supply diffusers, return grills, duct end caps and existing service openings. Cleaning technicians may need to cut access holes in the duct work in order to reach inside with various cleaning tools. Creation of these service openings, and their subsequent closure, requires craftsmanship and professional skills.
There is a wide variety of equipment available to HVAC cleaning professionals. Both truck-mounted and portable vacuums can be used to stop the spread of contaminants and get the system cleaned to the NADCA Standard.
Cost and Time Estimates
How much does air duct cleaning cost?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, properly cleaning an entire system in an average-sized home may typically range in cost from $450 to $1,000. However, there are several factors that affect cost and time estimates:
- number of crew members required
How long should it take to clean a typical residential HVAC system?
The amount of time it takes to clean a residential HVAC system depends on many variables such as the size of the home, the number of systems, the extent of the contamination and the number of HVAC cleaners performing the job. Ask at least two contractors to inspect your system and give you a time estimate for your particular system. This will give you a general idea of how long the job should take as well as an idea of how thoroughly the contractor plans to do the job.