The quality of the air outdoors is influenced by many factors beyond our control. However, the air inside your home can remain clean, healthy and safe by incorporating duct cleaning, filtration, ventilation and UV protection as part of a comprehensive indoor air quality (IAQ) strategy.

Normal daily activities tend to produce a large quantity of microscopic contaminants that remain trapped inside the interior of buildings without adequate air exchange. Furnace filters quickly become loaded with hair, pollen, dander, dust, dirt and other pollutants that begin to circulate freely through the home’s air duct system. Furnaces and air conditioners lose efficiency as sticky layers of grime begin to coat vital internal components. Fungi and mold spores use these nutrients to multiply and spread. The problem has become so severe that the EPA has found the air inside a typical home is 2-5 times more polluted than the air outdoors.

The Benefits of Clean Ductwork

Most homeowners recognize the importance of having their HVAC equipment serviced regularly. Unfortunately, the air duct network is largely neglected until the performance of the entire system is affected. Annual duct cleaning provides numerous benefits including:

* Improved Indoor Air Quality: Over time, debris accumulates inside the ductwork of your HVAC system. When the blower engages, some of the particulate matter is recycled through the air handler and eventually distributed into the various rooms of your home. The duct cleaning process removes the vast majority of the contaminants from the duct system, so the living area remains free of pollutants and other irritants.

* Reduced Utility Costs: When the evaporator coil and heat exchanger become clogged with dirt and debris, the thermal energy transfer process is compromised. The equipment must work harder and longer to meet the indoor load, which results in higher utility bills.

* Lower HVAC Repair Costs: Most cooling and heating failures are caused by excessive cycling and improper maintenance. Ductwork restrictions and dirty components can increase friction loss and reduce airflow by as much as 50 percent. Longer run cycles place critical moving parts under extreme stress, which can result in excessive wear and untimely breakdowns.

* Odor Elimination: Mold and fungi produce unpleasant odors as the colonies eat, grow and multiply. These smells are pushed through the ductwork and ultimately into the living area. Perspiration and food odors can also become trapped inside tight homes and subsequently embedded in the dust clusters scattered throughout the duct system. Regular duct cleaning removes the material these odors cling to, and operators can introduce a deodorizer into the duct system at the homeowner’s request.

Understanding the Duct Cleaning Process

Duct cleaning professionals use a variety of different tools to service the air distribution system and critical equipment components, including the air handler, heat exchanger, evaporator coil, housings and plenum.

The entire duct network is cleaned and sanitized to enhance system performance and eliminate the chance for future mold and fungi growth. Professional duct cleaning contractors develop a strategic plan for every job that includes the following steps:

* The return and supply sides of the HVAC system are isolated for more effective cleaning.

* A specially designed camera or mirrors are inserted into the register openings at various intervals to assess the interior of the ductwork and locate areas with a large accumulation of contaminants.

* Access holes are cut into the supply and return ducts respectively, and an industrial strength vacuum hose is attached to an installed sheet metal collar for an airtight seal.

* When the vacuum is engaged, the ductwork is placed under a severe negative pressure. The technician will start at the farthest return grille and use a compressed air whip or mechanical brushes to loosen material that is adhered to the interior surface of the ductwork. When all the debris has been removed and deposited into a sealed container, the process is repeated on the supply side of the system. Each supply branch is cleaned individually, starting at the farthest run and working back toward the vacuum.

* After the vacuum is unfastened from the collars, the technician will inspect the ductwork again to verify the interior is clean and all the debris has been removed. Critical equipment components including the evaporator and blower are cleaned and air washed to improve performance. At the homeowner’s request, the technician can spray an environmentally-friendly biocide into the ductwork to prevent future mold growth.

* When the entire process is finished, the collars are removed from the ductwork, and the access holes are patched and sealed. These same holes can be used again the next time the ductwork is serviced.

Clean Ductwork Means Better IAQ

Duct cleaning machinery and tools are designed to work on sheet metal, flexible duct and duct board without damaging the underlying material. When combined with air exchange, filtration and UV eradication, duct cleaning will help keep the air inside your home or office healthy, safe and smelling fresh.