Your HVAC system relies on ductwork to collect untreated air and deliver climate controlled air throughout your home. When your ducts become dirty or obstructed, the ductwork condition can affect the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems, as well as the quality of indoor air.

The problems caused by neglected ductwork can range from unpleasant odors to serious fire hazards, depending on exactly what is in the ducts. Luckily, an HVAC professional can clear away both the inconveniences and safety risks in your ducts during a cleaning.

Duct cleaning is an important form of routine HVAC maintenance that keeps your system running smoothly and safely, but if you've never scheduled a cleaning, you may not know what to expect. In this blog, we guide you through the general cleaning process.

Visual Assessment

Before any cleaning begins, your contractor must determine the extent and type of the buildup. If your ducts have a moisture problem, for example, a different cleaning method may be needed than if the technician was removing simple dust.

This assessment is also used to determine if there are any conditions that need to be dealt with before the cleaning. For example, if you have a current rodent infestation in the ducts, extermination services must occur first.

During the assessment, your technician will check all the ports, vents and air registers. The contractor may use a mirror or video tool to be able to see deeper into the ducts.

In preparation for this evaluation, please ensure that all openings to your HVAC system are easily accessible and not blocked by any furnishings.

System Seal Off                                                                       

Your assessment and cleaning may take place on the same day or your technician may return with the proper tools for a second appointment after the inspection is complete. When the technician is ready to complete the cleaning, they will seal off the duct system.

In addition to covering all the system openings, some duct cleaners also pressurize the ducts to minimize dust contamination during the cleaning.

During the cleaning process, you will most likely want to place coverings over your furniture to reduce the amount of residual particles that stay on them. Some contractors provide drop cloths and do the covering as part of the service, while others do no. Ask about your chosen company's policies beforehand so you're prepared.

Component Cleaning

Duct cleaning is an intensive process wherein the majority of individual HVAC components that are part of or connected to the duct system are cleaned. These components include the ducts themselves, vents and registers. Additionally, the technician may clean the following:

  • Air handler
  • Coils for heating and cooling
  • Drain pan
  • Fan blades, housing and motor
  • Heat exchanger

To ensure that you're getting a thorough enough cleaning, you may want to ask about your chosen company's specific cleaning checklist.

You may also want to ask about the company's cleaning methods and policies. For example, some companies prefer to dismantle portions of the ducts for better access, but this step could lead to duct damage.

To ensure that you're protected in the case of cleaning-related damage, choose a reputable HVAC company and discuss any policies that you're curious or concerned about in advance.

Organic Growth Treatments

If your ductwork has a lot of moisture or unwanted organic growth, like mold, your technician may suggest treating these issues as well. During this treatment, the growth is removed completely and the area where it was is cleaned thoroughly. Then an antimicrobial sealant may be applied.

Before having a sealant applied, you may want to discuss the situation with a mold expert as well as your technician. Any residue left in the ductwork afterward would obviously come into your home so you want to ensure that you're choosing the right treatment for anything growing in your ducts.

System Recommendations

Once the cleaning itself is complete, your technician may provide you with a written or verbal list of ways that you can prolong the health of your duct system. These tips help keep your HVAC system in good condition and your air quality higher. Suggestions may include:

  • Better quality filters
  • Regular air filter changes
  • Routine maintenance

If your system has a chronic moisture, dust or vermin problem, your technician may recommend making a change to the HVAC system to reduce the risk of similar problems in the future. For example, changing the location of the outdoor intakes can reduce the unwanted substances and animals in the system.

If you have questions about your home's duct cleaning specifically, consult with your chosen HVAC expert. Use the information above as well as any information you receive from your HVAC company's representative to ensure that you're prepared for your duct cleaning and other maintenance steps.

For professional routine and emergency HVAC services, contact the experienced team at Doctor Fix-It.