It’s easy to take excellent care of a home heating and cooling unit but forget all about the air ducts. As long as the forced air continues to emerge from the vents, there seems to be no point in thinking about the duct system. In fact, you do need to pay some attention to the air ducts.
It’s not only about making sure the integrity of the duct system remains high. You also want to think about what has collected inside the ducts. From time to time, it pays to have a professional inspect and possibly clean them. Why does this matter? Here are a few facts about the ducts, air quality, and what can happen if you choose to not get those ducts cleaned from time to time.
What Sort of Contaminants Can Get into the Air Ducts?
Quite a few different contaminants can collect in residential air ducts. Dust is among the most common. Everything from carpeting to upholstery can generate dust that ends up in the duct system and can remain there for long periods of time. Even if you dust and vacuum often, there’s still some chance of dust collecting in the system.
Dirt can also get into the ducts. When dirt is tracked in from outside or enters the home through an open window, the odds are that some of it will end up in the ducts. It can also remain in the system for a while before being forced through the vents and back into each of the rooms.
Pet dander is another example. If you have pets who are inside most of the time, you likely have some pet dander in the duct system. This is true even if you change the filters regularly.
Don’t forget that different types of vermin and other pests may end up in the duct work. That includes carcasses of mice, roaches, and other household pests. Until the ducts are cleaned, they remain in the system and add to the contaminants that eventually get into the air in each of your rooms.
How Do I Know if My Air Ducts Need to be Cleaned?
There are several common signs that it’s time to have the ducts cleaned. One of the most common has to do with your air filters. If they need replacing more often than usual and nothing else has changed, that could indicate a buildup of residue in the duct system.
Dirt, grime, or mold around the vents is also a sign that you need to clean the system. That’s because those contaminants are being forced toward the vents and collecting around the openings. While you could clean the area around the vents, that does nothing to address the underlying issue.
An increase in utility costs could indicate that the system is having to work harder to force air through the ducts and out of the vents. If there appears to be no other reason for the increase, do have a professional inspect the ducts and see if they need cleaning.
What Can Dirty Air Ducts Mean For My Health?
Can dirty air ducts make you sick? There is no doubt that lower air quality will have a detrimental impact on your health. While that’s true for everyone, it’s especially relevant to people who have chronic issues related to their respiratory systems.
At best, the contaminants that emerge with the forced air will cause you to cough and sneeze more often. You may also notice an increase in sinus headaches. There’s also a chance that your nose may run more often.
Some of the lesser-known signs of health issues related to dirty air ducts include the development of skin conditions. Did you know that hives, rashes, and dry skin could be caused by exposure to airborne contaminants?
You may also find that you feel generally unwell, although you can’t pinpoint the problem. A lack of energy or trouble sleeping may have more to do with what’s in the air ducts and less with other factors.
People with asthma and other forms of respiratory ailments are likely to find that it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe. If you’re noticing this, do consult with a physician at once. You also want to call a professional and find out if the ducts need cleaning.
Do Dirty Air Ducts Caused Problems With My HVAC System?
Along with the impact on your health, dirty air ducts can also create issues with the heating and cooling unit. It’s not unusual for the unit to run more often and for longer periods because of the additional strain associated with moving air through those dirty ducts. The increased amount of usage will cause more moving parts to wear out faster. As a result, you end up having to call for repairs more often.
Overall, the additional stress shortens the life of the heating and cooling unit. Even with prompt repairs, you may find that the unit will not last as many years. From this perspective, choosing to have the air ducts cleaned every two or three years can be seen as a way to keep the same unit for a longer period of time.
Should I Attempt to Clean the Air Ducts Myself?
Can you clean the air ducts myself? There’s a good chance that you could collect all the resources needed and do the job yourself. While it would take time and a desire to learn how to do the job right, this is an option that some people choose.
Even so, it pays to ask another question: is it wise for you to clean the air ducts yourself? Many people would say no, and with good reasons.
Apart from the time and expense associated with a DIY cleaning, there’s the matter of knowing how to manage the task properly. Professionals are trained in what to look for, how to manage the cleaning professionally and without damage to the vents or the areas around them, and what it takes to inspect a duct system once the cleaning is done. In addition, a professional knows how to dispose of the contaminants in an environmentally safe manner.
What Should I Expect to Pay for a Complete Air Duct Cleaning?
How much should duct cleaning cost? It will vary based on several factors. Many professionals base the price on a set rate per vent that’s connected to the system. That means if you have a smaller dwelling with four or five rooms, you can expect to pay less. People who own homes with multiple stories and more vents will pay a higher price.
You may see some offers for air duct cleaning beginning at rates like $99.00 per home. Look closely at the fine print. That advertised price may include only so many vents. You might find that each vent over that limit will trigger an additional fee.
Homes that are considered average in size will usually have enough vents to warrant a charge of somewhere between $300.00 to $500.00. The only way to know for sure is to contact a HVAC service and have a professional check the home. Doing so will ensure you get an accurate quote.
If it’s been a long time since the ducts were cleaned, now is the time to make that call. Once the job is finished, you’ll be surprised at how fresh the air inside smells. There’s also a good chance that you’ll feel a little better too.