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5 signs the duct work needs cleaning

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May 13, 2011

As long as the heating and cooling unit runs smoothly, many homeowners never give a second thought to the ductwork that runs through their home. But things can go wrong long before there is any indication of an issue, so it is important to check those ducts regularly.

Not sure if your ducts need to be cleaned? This checklist can help you decide if it is time to call a professional in for service.

Air duct inspection checklist

  1. Clean all the registers. Carefully remove the registers and clean them inside and out with a damp cloth. Vacuum any dust that has collected around the corners of the register holes. Do a visual inspection of each section of the duct before you put the register back on.
  2. If there are any signs of insects or vermin inside your air ducts, it is time to have a professional cleaning done. Signs might include small scratches on the inside of the duct, droppings along the sides, or the shells and husks of insects that were once in the ducts.
  3. Any sign of mold should be immediately checked out by a professional heating and cooling contractor. Mold in the air ducts can cause serious breathing problems for anyone inside the home, especially if it is allowed to flourish unchecked. Mold can also indicate moisture issues that need to be resolved immediately in order to prevent further problems.
  4. If your ducts are filled with dust and debris, especially if they are blowing particles of it out into your home every time the system is turned on, cleaning the ducts might dramatically increase airflow.
  5. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that ducts be cleaned only on an as-needed basis. There is still some debate as to whether cleaning ducts actually puts more pollutants into the air of your home than simply leaving them alone. However, if you aren't sure whether your ducts need to be cleaned, ask a professional to help you decide.

When you do hire someone to clean the ducts for you, take care to ensure that they clean the entire system, not just the ductwork you can see. Ask to see the chemicals they use, if any, and make sure their vacuums are venting outside of your home. If they can't do that, the duct cleaning company should be using the appropriate filters to keep the dust particles out of your house.

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