Fire Hazards | EPA Consumer Checklist | Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions
- Are there any health benefits that come from HVAC system cleaning?
- Will HVAC system cleaning reduce our home energy bills?
- How should a residential HVAC system be cleaned?
- How often should residential HVAC systems be cleaned?
- What is the normal price range for the air duct cleaning service?
- What criteria should I use in selecting an HVAC system cleaner?
- How long should it take to clean a typical residential HVAC system?
- How can we determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective?
Are there any health benefits that come from HVAC system cleaning?
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and very small particles of dust. The removal of such contaminants from the HVAC system and home should be considered as one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality.
Will HVAC system cleaning reduce our home energy bills?
Research by the U.S. EPA has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
How should a residential HVAC system be cleaned?
The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ Source Removal methods of cleaning. This requires a contractor to place the system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum. While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces. The debris can then travel down the ducts to the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home.
How often should residential HVAC systems be cleaned?
Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the home owner. Some of the things that may lead a home owner to consider more frequent cleaning include:
- Smokers in the household.
- Pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander.
- Water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system.
- Residents with allergies or asthma who might benefit from a reduction in the amount of indoor air pollutants in the home's HVAC system.
- After home renovations or remodeling.
- Prior to occupancy of a new home.
What is the normal price range for the air duct cleaning service?
The Environmental Protection Agency says that "duct cleaning services typically - but not always - range in cost from $450 to $1000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climactic region, and level of contamination" and type of duct material.
Consumers should beware of air duct cleaning companies that making sweeping claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning - such claims are unsubstantiated. Consumers should also beware of "blow-and-go" air duct cleaning companies. These companies often charge a nominal fee and do a poor job of cleaning the heating and cooling system. These companies may also persuade the consumer into unneeded services with and/or without their permission.
(If you have knowledge of a practicing "blow-and-go" air duct cleaner, contact your local Better Business Bureau to report the company, and your local, federal, and state elected officials to demand legislation.)
What criteria should I use in selecting an HVAC system cleaner?
Interview as many local contractors as you can. Ask them to come to your home and perform a system inspection and give you a quotation. To narrow down your pool of potential contractors, use the following pre-qualifications:
- Make sure the company complies with NADCA's (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) duct cleaning standards.
- See if the company has been in business long enough to have adequate experience.
- Enquire whether the company is in good standing with your local Better Business Bureau.
- Get proof that the company is properly licensed and adequately insured.
- Make sure that the company is going to clean and visually inspect all of the air ducts and related system components.
- Avoid advertisements for "$99 whole house specials" and other sales gimmicks.
- Ask if the company has the right equipment to effectively perform cleaning, and if the company has done work in homes similar to your? Get references from neighbors if possible.
How long should it take to clean a typical residential HVAC system?
There are a variety of factors that could affect the time needed to clean a residential HVAC system, including the type of home, accessibility of the ductwork, and the number of workers on the project. A typical three or four bedroom home will require 3 to 4 hours for cleaning using Lamunyon's state of the art source removal techniques.
How can we determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective?
The best way to determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective is to perform a visual inspection of the system before and after cleaning. If any dust or debris can be seen during the visual inspection, the system should not be considered cleaned. While you can perform your own visual inspection using a flash light and mirror, a professional cleaning contractor should be able to allow you better access to system components and perhaps the use of specialized inspection tools. In addition, following this post-cleaning check list can help to ensure a top quality job.