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Should You have Your Ducts Cleaned?

Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?

You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

  • There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:
    • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
    • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
    • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
  • If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.
  • Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects); or
  • Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

If any of the conditions identified above exists, it usually suggests one or more underlying causes. Prior to any cleaning, retrofitting, or replacing of your ducts, the cause or causes must be corrected or else the problem will likely recur.

Some research suggests that cleaning heating and cooling system components (e.g., cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers) may improve the efficiency of your system, resulting in a longer operating life, as well as some energy and maintenance cost savings. However, little evidence exists that cleaning only the ducts will improve the efficiency of the system.

You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should be occasionally cleaned. Provided that the cleaning is done properly, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental. EPA does not recommend that the air ducts be cleaned routinely, but only as needed. EPA does, however, recommend that if you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove or fireplace, they be inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you do decide to have your air ducts cleaned, take the same consumer precautions you normally would in assessing the service provider’s competence and reliability.

Air duct cleaning service providers may tell you that they need to apply chemical biocide to the inside of your ducts as a means to kill bacteria (germs) and fungi (mold) and prevent future biological growth. They may also propose the application of a “sealant” to prevent dust and dirt particles from being released into the air or to seal air leaks. You should fully understand the pros and cons of permitting the application of chemical biocides or sealants. While the targeted use of chemical biocides and sealants may be appropriate under specific circumstances, research has not demonstrated their effectiveness in duct cleaning or their potential adverse health effects. No chemical biocides are currently registered by EPA for use in internally-insulated air duct systems (see Should chemical biocides be applied to the inside of air ducts?).

Whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, preventing water and dirt from entering the system is the most effective way to prevent contamination.

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Crowther's HVAC did a total install for an older house for me 14 years ago. They are very good at what they do and are also the epitome of customer service. Any problems that I have had they took care of immediately at very reasonable prices. Add in that they are all really good people and you have the formula for a very successful business. Rereccomend them highly."

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I selected Crowther to replace both of my HVAC systems and they did a great job. They went the extra mile to correct duct work, and add a vent in order to bring my homes HVAC systems up to the best performance.

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We had a total duel system heat pump replacement. It was a pleasure working with CHAC. From the sales rep to the technicians responsible for the install. Very professional in their craftsmanship and ensuring everything was installed and working correctly. Very courteous and respectful of our property. We are new to the area and am glad we chose CHAC for our HVAC needs.

Steve Casey

For 25 years, Crowther has provided excellent customer service and support for our Carrier zoned heat pump. They are responsive, helpful and great to work with! We love their seasonal maintenance program and have had them complete some system redesign for our home renovation. All around a great team!

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