In northern climates your HVAC system may run for several hundred hours each year, drawing enormous volumes of air through your ductwork distribution system in the process. If this air were fresh there would be little cause for concern. But indoor air is far from pristine.
In most homes, the air is heavily contaminated with dirt, dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, chemical traces from cleaning products, smoke from tobacco products, fumes from adjacent garages, factories or farms . . . the list of potential pollutants goes on and on.
Theoretically, the air filters behind your intake registers should help remove these pollutants before they enter your HVAC system. But air filters won’t capture everything, especially if you’ve chosen to install cheap models that catch only the largest particles.
As your heating and cooling system circulates the filthy air throughout your home, some of the pollutants it carries will inevitably be deposited inside your air ducts. Over time this particulate matter will build up, to the point where dust, dirt, and debris are stirred up inside your ducts every time your forced-air HVAC system is in operation. Heavily contaminated air then circulates through your home and your air ducts in a continuous loop, constantly replenishing itself by mixing with even more impurities harvested in your now-hopelessly dingy air ducts.
And there’s another possible complication: moisture penetration. Dirty, neglected air ducts are more likely to develop leaks or cracks, and when this happens water can seep in and create chronically damp conditions that are perfect for mold, mildew, insect infestations, and bacterial growth. Grimy, wet air ducts are a breeding ground for unwanted biological invaders, adding yet more unsavory elements to the air you breathe indoors for 12-14 hours a day.
The picture we’ve painted here is not a pretty one. But thankfully it is only a worst-case scenario and not an unavoidable catastrophe. If you have your air ducts professionally cleaned on a semi-annual basis, you can prevent the dust and dirt demons from possessing your HVAC system and corrupting its original purpose.
Air Duct Cleaning: It’s a No-Brainer
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists indoor air contamination as one of its top five health concerns. The situation is especially dire in states like Minnesota, where windows are so often kept closed to keep the cold or hot air out.
When you hire experts to clean your air ducts, you’ll benefit in a variety of ways. Here’s what you can expect when you let the professionals restore your ductwork to a spotless state through air duct cleaning.
Air contaminated with dust, chemical traces, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, or bacteria can help to provoke asthma attacks and allergic reactions. If the original sources of the contamination are still present, duct cleaning won’t extinguish your indoor pollution problem completely, but it may help just enough to eliminate the most severe respiratory side effects.
Less stress on your furnace and air conditioner
Dirty ducts don’t allow for the smooth flow of air, which forces your heating and cooling equipment to work harder to get the job done. This extra stress and strain can lead to mechanical breakdowns and costly repairs, and it could shorten the lifespan of your furnace or air conditioner by several years.
Reduced energy costs
Furnaces and air conditioners straining to pull air through obstructed ducts will require a lot more gas and/or electricity to perform up to their normal standards. This can ramp your power and fuel bills up to unacceptable levels, but a good duct cleaning can cut your HVAC equipment’s workload down by several money-saving percentage points.
Better air filter function
Your HVAC air filter is supposed to be your last line of defense against indoor air pollution. But it won’t be able to do its job properly if the air passing through it is overly saturated with contaminants, as can easily happen when your ductwork is coated in filth. Cheap air filters won’t do much for you in any instance. But if you purchase a superior filter with a higher MERV rating, and choose the right air conditioner or furnace filter size (as there are plenty) so all air passes through the HVAC system, then after having your ducts cleaned you should notice a big change in the quality of your home’s air.
Cleaner ducts for healthier, happier living
Dirty ducts mean poor indoor air quality, which can damage your health and put the future of your HVAC system at risk.
Unless you undertake a messy remodeling project, having your air ducts cleaned every other year should be sufficient to keep them in good condition. But if you’ve never had your ducts cleaned, the time to act is now, before another day passes.