Your HVAC system is just like the human circulatory system. Only instead of blood, it circulates air. Your ducts are like veins and arteries. They transport air to the rest of your home from the furnace and then return that air. Much like human arteries, you want to keep your ducts clear of buildup and debris. To keep your HVAC system working you might be wondering "How often do I need an air duct cleaning?"
The difference here is that instead of cholesterol, these blockages are usually dirt, dust, and mold. Having buildup could mean that your HVAC system is circulating air that contains pollutants and allergens. In extreme cases, a blockage may develop that restricts airflow.
The answer is - it depends.
Why The Old Advice No Longer Applies
The old advice was to clean out your ductwork every 3 to 5 years. While that certainly couldn’t hurt (in most cases), it could be unnecessary. At Advantage, that used to be the advice we gave consumers, but we have recently stopped giving that guidance and have removed that statement from our materials.
We’ve found that no particular time frame applies to every customer. Instead, we recommend you consider why you would want to clean your ducts rather than how often.
What Are Reasons To Get An Air Duct Cleaning?
There are several different reasons you may want to have a professional clean your ducts. These are some of the most common incidents that can affect how often you might want an air duct cleaning.
1. You Just Moved
If you just moved into a new house, you might want to consider getting your ducts cleaned. Not only are you getting the previous owners' house, but also the environment they lived in. If they had a lot of pets or had a messy lifestyle, there could be buildup in the ducts that you might not be comfortable with or unacclimated to.
2. Your Allergies Are Flaring Up
Another reason to consider a duct cleaning is if you are noticing an unseasonable increase in your allergies while you are inside. This might mean that your filter is not catching all the allergens in the air that get circulated in your home. Pollen, dust, and animal dander can all get stuck inside your ductwork.
Normally, a HEPA filter is recommended to stop those allergens from circulating. If your system does not have the required airflow to use a HEPA filter, a duct cleaning is an option to ease those allergies.
3. Undetected Issues
Not to make you paranoid, but it’s possible that there’s something wrong with your HVAC system or something nasty in your crawlspaces and you don’t know it. Often when performing a duct cleaning, the professionals can discover and diagnose issues that would affect your HVAC system and your home.
Is It Absolutely Necessary To Get An Air Duct Cleaning?
Short answer - no. While the machines in your HVAC system could have a recommended regular maintenance schedule, the same cannot be said for your ducts. Those machines have moving components that can wear and breakdown or use sensors that need to stay calibrated.
Your ductwork does not suffer the same strain from use. While It can become unsealed, or develop a buildup of pollutants, these problems are less frequent in modern systems.
Modern HVAC systems use air filters capable of capturing a high percentage of allergens and pollutants, especially if that system uses a HEPA filter or a filter with a MERV rating of 13 or higher. Extreme build-up or blockage is a rare case for modern HVAC systems. In most cases, increases in airborne dust or allergens are slight and can usually be alleviated with more frequent cleaning.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) does not recommend frequent duct cleaning. They warn that improper duct cleaning may even damage your ductwork.
Will A Cleaning Damage My Ducts?
This depends on who is cleaning your ducts and how. If you try to clean your ducts or the company you hire does not have the best-trained professionals, it is possible to damage your ductwork.
Not all ductwork is built the same because not every house has the same needs. Not all ductwork is even made from the same material. Some companies are not trained to work with different ductwork or do not have standard safety and cleanliness procedures.
In the first case, this could damage your ducts and reduce the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. In the second case, their carelessness could cause you having more dirt and pollutants in your HVAC system than before, possibly overburdening your air filter.
Who Should I Hire For An Air Duct Cleaning?
Ideally, a company that is focused on the overall performance of your HVAC system.
A Performance-Based company is going to look at what kind of treatment your ducts need and service them in a way that only has a beneficial impact on your HVAC system. They will also offer solutions to problems that might affect airflow, efficiency, or energy use.
Benefits of A Performance-Based Company
A good HVAC technician will know how often an air duct cleaning is really required and will let you know when it is or is not necessary. This type of company will try to foster a long-term relationship with you to ensure you get the best possible output from your HVAC system without incurring damage.
While this kind of service might cost more than a company that just swabs your ducts and leaves. The Performance-Based company will have better training, so you can have peace of mind that they know how to clean your ductwork without damaging it. The additional solutions they provide will also reduce energy usage and prevent the need for repairs or replacements.
You might also look for the certifications of the company you’re thinking of hiring. There are actually certifications that show whether someone is knowledgeable about HVAC systems. Companies that are members of NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) have to employ so many NADCA-certified technicians.
Another certification to ask your technicians about is the EPA 608 Technician Certification. The EPA requires that any professionals that work with a system that contains refrigerant be certified. Even if your ducts are clean, you may have buildup or a mechanical error in your Air Conditioning.
A technician that is certified to service and diagnose problems with your AC could save you a lot of headaches and money.
Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?
We’re your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope this article gave you the information you need to figure out how often you need an air duct cleaning. If you have questions about HVAC systems, please check out our other blog posts. If you want to know who we are and how we can help, visit our website and check us out on Social Media. We’ll be here when you need us.