Miami Beach is an official U. S. government website that provides important information on air duct cleaning. While knowledge about this topic is still in its early stages, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you read this document in its entirety.
It's important to note that dirty air ducts are just one of the many possible sources of particulate matter present in homes. Contaminants from outdoor and indoor activities, such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or simply moving around, can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Before ducting is cleaned, modernized, or replaced, the cause or causes must be corrected, or else the problem is likely to recur. Some research suggests that cleaning the components of heating and cooling systems (e.g., cooling coils, fans, and heat exchangers) can improve system efficiency. However, there is little evidence that cleaning only the ducts improves system efficiency. As long as the cleaning is done correctly, there is no evidence to suggest that such cleaning is harmful.
The EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned routinely, but only when necessary. However, the EPA recommends that if you have a furnace, stove, or fireplace that burns fuel, it be inspected for proper functioning and maintained before each heating season to protect it against carbon monoxide poisoning. Whether or not you decide to clean your home's air ducts, preventing water and dirt from entering the system is the most effective way to prevent contamination. If you decide to clean your heating and cooling system, it's important to ensure that the service provider is committed to cleaning all components of the system and is qualified to do so. In addition, the service provider can propose the application of chemical biocides designed to remove microbiological contaminants to the inside of the ducts and other components of the system. Some service providers may also suggest applying chemical treatments (sealants or other encapsulants) to encapsulate or cover the inner surfaces of air ducts and equipment housings because they believe they will control mold growth or prevent the release of dirt particles or fibers from the ducts.
These practices have not yet been thoroughly researched and you must be fully informed before deciding to allow the use of biocides or chemical treatments in your air ducts. They should only be applied after the system has been properly cleaned of all visible dust or dirt. On the other hand, if family members have unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think could be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. The EPA has published several publications as guidance on identifying potential indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or solve them. You can consider cleaning the air ducts simply because it seems logical that they will become dirty over time and need to be cleaned from time to time. While there is still debate over the value of regular duct cleaning, there is no evidence to suggest that such cleaning is harmful when done correctly. On the other hand, if a service provider doesn't follow proper duct cleaning procedures, it can cause problems with indoor air.
For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if it had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or your heating and cooling system, which could increase your heating and air conditioning costs or force you to make difficult and costly repairs or replacements. In conclusion, while knowledge about air duct cleaning is still in its early stages and there is no evidence that a small amount of household dust or other particles in air ducts poses a health risk, it's important to take precautions when deciding whether or not to clean your home's air ducts. The EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned except when necessary because of continuing uncertainty about their benefits in most cases. However, if you have a furnace, stove, or fireplace that burns fuel, it should be inspected for proper functioning and maintained before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. If you think that cleaning your air ducts might be a good idea for your home but you're not sure what steps to take next, talk to a professional.
The company that services your heating and cooling system can be a good source for advice on this matter.