Another aspect of duct system maintenance is duct cleaning. Duct cleaning is a tedious but necessary process to maintain air quality. Duct sealing prevents air leaks, which can occur anywhere between the oven and the living room. A lack of sealant can result in increased energy bills due to uncontrolled airflow, as well as indoor air pollution from dust and pet dander that has been trapped in the air conditioning system.
All of the components of your air conditioner are equally important to efficiently cool your home. Even though they're out of sight, air ducts are an important part of your HVAC system. Because you don't see the ducts day to day, you may not think about whether or not you're in good condition. However, if the sealing of the ducts begins to fail, you can let cold air into the attic instead of entering the rooms of the house.
You may not notice the dust, but many homeowners experience an increase in allergy symptoms. This is because dust and mold enter your home through the ducts, even though your air conditioning unit works to filter out these allergens. If you feel like you're getting sick more often than usual, a leak in the ducts may be the cause. Sealing air conditioning vents can protect your health by blocking dust and mold.
Your air conditioning unit has the goal of keeping your home at a reasonable temperature. This is for your convenience, but it's also for your safety. Refrigerating your home and controlling humidity helps prevent mold and mildew. If you see mold or mildew around your home, spores may be entering through the ducts.
By sealing damaged areas, you can prevent mold and mildew. When the maximum amount of air conditioning doesn't reach its intended destination, you'll notice that the system works longer and doesn't solve overheated or cold rooms. The influx of contaminants and odors from the air and even the safety risks derived from reverse circulation are some of the consequences. Having your ductwork professionally sealed is essential for home comfort, health, and efficiency.
An official United States government website Using official websites. Government A. The.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States. Knowledge about cleaning air ducts is in its early stages, so a general recommendation cannot be offered as to whether you should clean the air ducts in your home.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges you to read this document in its entirety, as it provides important information on the subject. Duct cleaning has never been proven to actually prevent health problems. Nor do studies conclusively demonstrate that the particle (p. e.g.
This is because much of the dirt in the air ducts adheres to the duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It's important to note that dirty air ducts are just one of the many possible sources of particulate matter that are present in homes. Contaminants that enter the home through both outdoor and indoor activities, such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or simply moving around, can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. In addition, there is no evidence that a small amount of household dust or other particles in air ducts poses a health risk.
If any of the conditions identified above exist, it usually suggests one or more underlying causes. 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. However, there is little evidence that cleaning only the ducts improves system efficiency.
You can consider cleaning the air ducts simply because it seems logical that the air ducts will become dirty over time and need to be cleaned from time to time. 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.
If you decide to clean your air ducts, take the same consumer precautions you would normally take when evaluating the competence and reliability of the service provider. 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 (see How to Prevent Duct 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 to 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, if any, after the system has been properly cleaned of all visible dust or dirt. Knowledge about the potential benefits and potential problems of cleaning air ducts is limited.
Since the conditions in every home are different, it's impossible to generalize about whether cleaning the air ducts in your home would be beneficial or not. 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 the following publications as guidance on identifying potential indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or solve them. While the debate over the value of regular duct cleaning continues, there is no evidence to suggest that such cleaning is harmful, provided it is done correctly.
On the other hand, if a service provider doesn't follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning 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. This is because much of the dirt that can accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space.
The EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned except when necessary because of continuing uncertainty about the benefits of duct cleaning in most cases. 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 against carbon monoxide poisoning. Some research also suggests that cleaning dirty cooling coils, fans, and heat exchangers can improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. However, there is little evidence to indicate that simply cleaning the duct system will increase the efficiency of the system.
If you think that cleaning the ducts might be a good idea for your home, but you're not sure, talk to a professional. The company that services your heating and cooling system can be a good source of advice. You can also contact professional duct cleaning service providers and ask them about the services they offer. Remember that they are trying to sell you a service, so ask questions and insist on getting complete and well-informed answers.
A thorough visual inspection is the best way to verify the cleanliness of your heating and cooling system. Some service providers use remote photography to document conditions inside ductwork. All parts of the system must be visibly clean; you must not be able to detect any residue with the naked eye. Show the consumer checklist after cleaning to the service provider before work begins.
After completing the work, ask the service provider to show you each component of their system to verify that the work was done successfully. Whether or not you decide to clean your home's air ducts, it's essential to commit to a good preventive maintenance program to minimize duct contamination. Moisture must not be present in the ducts. Controlling humidity is the most effective way to prevent biological growth in air ducts.
You may be familiar with air ducts that are constructed of sheet metal. However, many modern residential air duct systems are constructed of fiberglass ducts or sheet metal ducts that are lined on the inside with a fiberglass duct lining. Since the early 1970s, there has been a significant increase in the use of flexible ducts, which are generally lined internally with plastic or some other type of material. Experts agree that moisture should not be present in the ducts and, if there is moisture and dirt, there is a chance that biological contaminants will grow and be distributed throughout the house.
Controlling humidity is the most effective way to prevent biological growth in all types of air ducts. Air duct cleaning service providers can tell you that they need to apply a chemical biocide to the inside of the ducts to kill bacteria (germs) and fungi (mold) and prevent future biological growth. Some duct cleaning service providers may propose to introduce ozone to remove biological contaminants. Ozone is a highly reactive gas that is regulated in outdoor air as a lung irritant.
However, there remains considerable controversy over the need and appropriateness of introducing chemical biocides or ozone into pipelines. While some low-toxic products can be legally applied while the occupants of the home are present, you may want to consider leaving the premises while the biocide is being applied as an additional precautionary measure. Manufacturers of products marketed to coat and encapsulate duct surfaces claim that these sealants prevent dust and dirt particles from inside air ducts from being released into the air. As with biocides, a sealant is often applied by spraying it into the operating duct system.
Laboratory tests indicate that materials introduced in this way tend not to completely cover the duct surface. The application of sealants can also affect the acoustic (noise) and fireproof characteristics of ducts lined or constructed with fiberglass and may void the manufacturer's warranty. Most organizations that deal with duct cleaning, including the EPA, NADCA, NAIMA, and the National Association of Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors (SMACNA), do not currently recommend the routine use of sealants to encapsulate contaminants in any type of duct. Cases in which the use of sealants to encapsulate duct surfaces may be appropriate include repairing damaged fiberglass insulation or combating fire damage within ducts.
Sealants should never be used on the wet lining of ducts, to cover actively growing mold, or to cover dirt in ducts, and should only be applied after cleaning in accordance with NADCA or other appropriate guidelines or regulations. Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, Indoor Environments Division (6609J) 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N, W. Poor air quality is one of the main problems created with unsealed ducts, as unsealed ducts expose your home to air contaminants. And if you only repair leaks from the supply duct, even more unconditioned air may enter the system.
Supply leaks can still be a problem, as the air conditioner will not be evenly distributed throughout the house. Return duct leaks are difficult to detect because larger return ducts operate at lower air pressure and air enters the system. Air enters the heating and cooling system through supply lines to be heated or cooled, and then the air is sent throughout the building to provide comfort. Air leaks in the ducts damage the integrity of the metal coil, causing cracks to form along its length or at curves.
Research suggests that condensation (which occurs when the surface temperature is lower than the dew point temperature of the surrounding air) on or near the cooling coils of air conditioning units is a major factor in moisture contamination of the system. If your house has a mechanical cabinet, it must also be properly sealed to prevent negative air leaks from the return side. Putty: a thick paste that provides a permanent seal at the joints and connections of air ducts; sometimes used in conjunction with fiberglass mesh tape. While many of these products can be legally used inside unlined ducts if all instructions on the label are followed, some of the instructions on the label may be inappropriate for use in ducts.