The best air duct cleaning method is the one that fits the condition of your specific ductwork and realistically addresses interior air quality issues. While duct cleaning isn’t recommended for every home, it is one valuable tool in an overall strategy to safeguard the air your family breathes.

The entire air volume of your house circulates through your HVAC ductwork more than five times every day. Airborne particulates and other contaminants are continuously deposited in ducts and then recirculated into living spaces. Over a span of years, the accumulation of dust, dirt and microorganisms like mold and bacteria can reach levels that impact interior air quality and may cause irritation and allergic responses in susceptible people — not to mention an ongoing housekeeping headache with never-ending dusting.

Because much of the duct network inside a home is not accessible to the average do-it-yourselfer, a homeowner can normally perform only limited duct cleaning. However, some benefits may result from taking these simple steps:

  • Turn off the A/C or furnace at the thermostat.
  • Vacuum the HVAC vents in each room with a crevice tool. 
  • Unscrew the vent covers and wash them to remove all dust and dirt. 
  • While the vent covers dry, install the crevice tool on the longest available extension. Insert the tool as far as possible into the ductwork and vacuum the interior of the ducts.
  • Reinstall the vent covers.

The best air duct cleaning method usually begins with a thorough inspection by a qualified duct cleaning professional. The preferred candidate for the job is usually an established local HVAC provider — the contractor that installed your A/C and furnace is a good starting point for getting a competent inspection and honest evaluation of your system. A comprehensive procedure will include visual inspection of all spans of ductwork, including those that are inaccessible to the average homeowner, such as in the attic or in the crawl space under the house. A trained inspector will be alert to red flags such as:

  • Layers of dust and dirt adhering to interior duct surfaces
  • Evidence of mold growth in the ducts
  • Signs of water contamination or moisture damage from condensation.
  • Insect infestation
  • Signs of wear and tear on HVAC components caused by dust infiltration
  • Dirty filters and other maintenance issues, such as air leaks in the ducts, that admit contaminated air

After a thorough inspection, a professional duct cleaner will provide a written report and a recommendation of the duct cleaning procedures required to remedy any problems. A reputable contractor will not present duct cleaning as a cure-all for all illnesses nor promise any specific medical benefits from a cleaning procedure.

Four phases make up the best air duct cleaning method:

Access: The contractor will gain access to the interior of the ducts by removing access plates or duct components such as end caps and air diffusers.  Where no access points exist to insert cleaning tools, technicians will cut access holes in the ductwork. After the procedure is finished, these holes will be professionally closed and sealed.

Contaminant loosening: Layers of dust, mold and other residue may have been accumulating for years inside ductwork. An effective cleaning procedure begins with agitation with powered soft-bristle brushes, high-pressure air nozzles and other technology — including simple hand brushing — to break loose the accumulation inside the ducts.  HVAC equipment installed in the airstream such as the A/C coil and blower fan will also be cleaned.

Negative pressurization: Before the dust, dirt and loosened residue of contaminants can be removed from the ductwork, precautions must be taken to prevent re-infiltration of these contaminants into the interior environment of the home. A professional duct cleaning contractor will utilize a powerful vacuum, often mounted on a truck, to induce negative air pressure in the ducts and contain dust and dirt as it is removed.

Removal: After the vacuum is connected to the ductwork and energized, contaminants are removed from various access points in the ductwork. All air removed from the ducts by the vacuum is exhausted through medical-grade HEPA filters. Removed contaminants are sealed in bags and disposed of by the contractor.

Following the procedure, the contractor will reinstall all removed components. New air filters will be installed and the system will be restarted. All vents in the house will be checked for proper airflow.

Serving metro New Orleans since 1982, Bryans United Air Conditioning is the homeowner’s preferred heating and cooling contractor. Ask us for more advice on the best air duct cleaning method to safeguard the air in your home.

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