Duct cleaning is a good way to remove irritants from the air inside your home and can help your HVAC system function better for longer. But if you've ever had your ducts cleaned and wondered just what you paid for, you may be hesitant to go through the process again.
"Unfortunately, it's easy to find bait-and-switch offers by individuals or groups purporting to be experienced duct cleaners," says Aaron Marshbanks, board member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). "If someone comes to your home, sticks a big vacuum hose in a duct, turns it on for a few minutes, and then hands you a hefty bill, you didn't get a proper duct cleaning. A proper cleaning involves not just the ductwork but all the components of your home's HVAC system as well."
It's not always easy to know when you're getting your money's worth out of a professional service, especially when it involves an area of the home that you don't normally see -- or know that much about. NADCA offers some advice to help you evaluate whether a duct cleaner is doing the job right, or sucking money from your wallet for a shoddy job.
First, know the "why" behind the service
HVAC systems not only provide warm air in winter and cool air in summer, they are also supposed to keep air moving and fresh throughout your home. Dust, debris and allergens naturally build up in the system as it carries air through the ducts and filters out irritants.
To determine if your system needs cleaning, use a screwdriver to remove a floor or wall register. Use a small mirror and a flashlight to look inside the duct. Or, use a digital camera, held inside the duct, to take a picture of the interior. If you can actually see any dust, dirt or debris, it's time to have the system cleaned.
Next, know the "what"
"It's actually a misnomer to call what NADCA certified professionals do simply 'air duct cleaning,'" says Marshbanks. "Actually, the entire HVAC system should be cleaned, including the air ducts, coils, drain pan, registers, grills, air plenum, blower motor and assembly, heat exchanger, air filter and air cleaner."
Not cleaning all components of the system can lead to recontamination of the entire system, thereby minimizing the benefits of any cleaning. "Just as you wouldn't only clean half your living room floor, you would also not want to clean only part of your HVAC system," Marshbanks says.
A proper cleaning should not only involve the big hose stuck in the ductwork, but actual cleaning of the HVAC components as well. NADCA suggests homeowners run down a checklist with the duct cleaner of just what he or she will be doing as part of their service. You can find a checklist on the association's website, www.nadca.com.
Find a qualified professional
As with any contractor you hire, make sure you check an air duct cleaner's credentials and references before you give him the job. One way to find qualified HVAC technicians near you is to log on to NADCA's home page, where a search function allows you to find a NADCA-certified professional by ZIP code. Members of the nonprofit organization must meet stringent educational and performance standards.
Courtesy of ARAcontent