Does it make sense to have your home's air duct system cleaned professionally? Is there any benefits to have ducts cleaned under normal situations, or is this just a waste of money. You might be surprised at the answer. Even though your air ducts may be home to dust and debris, removing it may have little effect upon the efficacy of the air duct system, little effect upon improved air quality within the home.
Air Duct Cleaning: Unnecessary to Professionally Clean Home Ductwork?
While duct-cleaning services exist, it is generally deemed to be necessary in most cases. According the the EPA, cleaning of ductwork does not result in any significant benefits to the home air quality or result in any notable improved efficiency of the furnace or air-handling system
Respiratory Diseases Sufferers, Dustborne Allergens and Air Duct Cleaning
Arguably it is people and their family that have legitimate health problems with breathing and home air quality that might consider duct cleaning as a viable and necessary service. Cited are concerns about mold, mildew, dust mites and the nebulous mention of 'improved airflow efficiency.'
- Improved Air Quality
- Reduction of mold, Mildew, Spores and Air-borne Allergens
- Getting rid of Household Dust Accumulation
- Improved Airflow
- Reduction of Energy Costs
Not that removing dust, debris, pet hair, children's toys, coins and all manner of other debris trapped in the return vents of ductwork isn't satisfying, removing these professionally or even DIY has negligible effect upon improving home air quality or air flow efficiencies.
Most home owners that have had duct cleaning done are probably less than impressed with the results other than their own peace of mind.
Air Duct Cleaning Studied by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
A study done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the 1990s tested house and duct performance before and after cleaning and reported that there was no significant differences in airborne particles in the home or ductwork.
Changing the filter (and using the highest quality filter available) on your furnace has a much greater impact upon air quality and furnace performance.
While ductwork return passages tend to be where most of the household dust enters the system, it is this dust that is captured by your standard furnace filter. Unless you have water or extremely high humidity (e.g., condensation from central humidifier, etc.) issues present in the ductwork or have recently suffered from flood or other water damage in the home, mold and mildew just don't grow there. It is too dry.
Use of Biocides to Spray Air Ducts in the Home
-Just say "no." Spraying or fogging of biocides or use of ozone gases to rid the duct of mold or bacteria after a cleaning is generally not required unless there was a genuine incidence of mold and mildew to begin with (e.g., after a flood, water-compromised duct work, etc.)
Many newer homes also use ductwork that is not entirely traditional galvanized steel sheet metal but are comprised of fiberglass and fiberboard materials and should not be subjected to biocide use.
From the EPA web site publication "Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?" (1) :
- No products are currently registered by EPA as biocides for use on fiberglass duct board or fiberglass lined ducts so it is important to determine if sections of your system contain these materials before permitting the application of any biocide.
At any rate, you should avoid biocide chemicals circulating through your home via the furnace and ductwork if at all possible.
Duct-cleaning makes sense after a major home renovation. The purpose would be to vacuum-up any drywall dust, sawdust or fiberglass insulation debris that contractors may have inadvertently swept into the vents.
In an older home with serious ductwork airflow issues, visually inspecting the ductwork may reveal obstructions such as a collapsed duct. Torn, severely dented or physical obstructions in the ducts (a Coke can, cleaning cloth, etc.) can cause major air flow problems and needs to be removed or repaired.
It is not as if humans are 'dust free' in any environment. Tens of thousands of dead skin cells slough-off our bodies daily and leave an almost invisible dust cloud in our wake.
Have you even seen those myriad clouds of dust-particles floating around in a sunbeam in the home? Those are very probably almost entirely comprised of human skin cells! Tens of thousands, millions of them! So, -are you still worried about lint-balls and a few paperclips in your ductwork? Probably not.
HEPA Air Filtration Unit and Home Air Quality
If you are still concerned about dust-borne particles and allergens in the home, consider getting a HEPA filtration system instead. A multiphase filtering system with a HEPA rating that uses several filters of increasingly smaller porosity is best.
For a better air quality in the home, furnace duct-cleaning is not really considered to be a priority defense at best and at worse, a benign waste of money.
- cite: US EPA http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html#Does