Ask The Expert

Robert,

I have lived a full and complete and long life without ever having heard of air-duct cleaning. However, in past five years I’ve been inundated with ads from companies wanting to clean my air ducts. If my ducts were OK before, why now are they a raging cesspool of allergens and infections? Is this a pseudo-scam, or a service that truly needs to be done occasionally – like chimney sweeping? Since I do have allergies, would you comment on the current thinking regarding air duct cleaning?

Also, how do we find a reputable air-duct cleaner, since I cannot imagine that there is a separate license for this specialty? Thank you very much.

Carol M.
Hi Carol,

Personally, I’ve lived in my current home for 18 years and I have never had the ducts cleaned. As long as you’re continuously changing your filters, that minimizes the amount of dust in your ducts. How often you should change the filters depends on several factors including whether you have pets that live in the home, if you leave the windows open, as well as the type of equipment you have. But at $2.00 a piece, change the filters regularly. I replace mine every six to eight weeks.

Dirty filters will allow dust, dirt and lint to build up around the A-coil, resulting in decreased efficiency. Dirty A-coils are expensive because they are hard to get to and difficult to clean. Also, they cool much slower so the equipment runs longer, creating more wear and tear and using more electricity. The bottom line: Replace your filters.

If you’ve had leaks and suspect there is mold, or have allergies and feel like it is a good choice for you, then absolutely. Let me know if you detect any air quality change within your home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.”

To find a reputable duct cleaning service, I would ask someone you know that has used this service in the past and check the BBB. Depending on the size of your home, rates can range anywhere from $400 – $1,000. There’s nothing wrong with meeting with different companies and having them explain what they are going to do, for how much and how will it benefit you.

There is an organization that provides training programs and certifications for air duct cleaners. One is the NADCA, The National Air Duct Cleaners Association, whose mission is “to promote source removal as the only acceptable method of cleaning and to establish industry standards for the association.” NADCA offers several training programs including the Air Systems Cleaning Specialist (ASCS); Ventilation System Mold Remediator (VSMR) and the Certified Ventilation Inspector (CVI).

Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made. Submit your questions to: robert@imsconstruction.com.

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