I am asked by clients and Realtors all the time - "Is duct cleaning really worth it?" I had an email contact just yesterday about this very subject. So I thought a post would be worth while and instructive.
Well, you tell me! Dust accumulates anywhere it can land. As it accumulates many things can happen:
1. It can restrict air flow, making your system's ability to move air less efficient, costing you more money.
2. It is composed of more than just dust. I say to my clients that it is full of "living organisms." You should believe that too.
The little fellow to the right has a life cycle of one to three months. During that time the female will lay 40-80 eggs. Adults are very prolific in creating more dust mites!
Is your return duct a dust mite factory? Um, YES! Just as your furniture, carpets, pillows and mattresses are!
How big are they? The picture on the right is one sitting on something much smaller than the head of a pin, which is 2 millimeters in diameter. That dust mite is 250 - 300 microns in size. A micron is one-millionth of a meter. So this mite to the right is one-quarter or so of a millimeter, and about twenty four times larger than a human red blood cell.
3. Its accumulation is conducive to the amplification of molds and fungi, which are in your air. This amplification will continue and eventually infest your HVAC mechanism, and that is a real problem!
All this organism blows around your house.
I see three kinds of return ducts in houses - wood, metal and flexible. All three can accumulate dust.
These can all be cleaned. You want a couple of things in a duct-cleaning company - how they do it and their good reputation. The reputation is best acquired by reading customer comments on line. There are many sites to do this. Research carefully.
But how do they do it? You want a company that both brushes and vacuums. The material needs to be dislodged and acquired. Their use of HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Accumulation) filters are very, very important. What kind of filters does the company use?
And, can they introduce a fungicide into the ducts after cleaning? And, if so, can they introduce it also into the beginnings of the HVAC system? Molds can accumulate there also, slightly beyond the return duct.
All of this costs more for sure. But if you and yours suffer from allergies, asthma or other pulmonary circumstances, I highly recommend that you do this.
THE NEXT POST - how to prevent, or at least forestall, dust accumulation in your ducts. And air filtration! Be there, or be parallelogram...
My recommendation: Information is everything. Ask questions of your local home inspector (or cute thermographer). They will be happy to help!
(I couldn't resist the "cute" comment - that has a lot of people rattled! Just another service I offer...)
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560