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The (honest) Cold Hard Facts About Air Duct Cleaning

Air duct cleaning services are marketed as an essential way to improve indoor air quality, respiratory health, and the performance of your HVAC system. However, despite some claims, there is little scientific evidence to support the purported benefits of air duct cleaning. Moreover, it may have negative consequences.

Does cleaning air ducts really make a difference?

Providing a clear answer to this question is not straightforward and requires a more nuanced explanation. While air duct cleaning can have some benefits, it is only sometimes necessary and may even do more harm than good.

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When determining whether or not to pursue air duct cleaning, there are several factors to take into account:

  1. What is the current state of your air ducts? What is their current state? If your air ducts are visibly dirty, clogged with debris, or have a musty odor, it may be time to have them cleaned. However, if your air ducts look relatively clean and are not causing any problems, cleaning them may not be necessary.
  2. How often do you replace your air filters? Regularly replacing your air filters is one of the best ways to keep your air ducts clean and maintain good indoor air quality. If you replace your air filters every three months, as experts recommend, there may be little need to clean your air ducts. On the other hand, if you rarely or never replace your air filters, your air ducts are likely to accumulate more dirt and debris, making cleaning them more necessary.
  3. Do you have a mold problem? If you have a mold problem in your air ducts, it is important to address the root cause of the problem and replace the infected ducts rather than simply cleaning them. Cleaning your air ducts may only loosen the mold and spread it throughout your living space, worsening the problem.
  4. Do you have respiratory issues or allergies? Suppose you or someone in your household has respiratory problems or allergies. In that case, it is essential to maintain good indoor air quality. However, there may be better solutions than air duct cleaning. Instead, consider using high-efficiency air filters, maintaining proper humidity levels, and keeping your living space clean and free of dust and debris.
  5. When looking for a duct cleaning service, it’s important to prioritize companies that are licensed, insured, and have received favorable feedback from previous customers. Avoid companies that use scare tactics or make false claims about the benefits of air duct cleaning.

The EPA discourages duct cleaning because it can cause more problems than it solves, such as stirring up dust and debris and leaving antimicrobial residue that may trigger respiratory reactions.

Moreover, if you have a mold problem, duct cleaning will not solve it. A moisture problem causes mold, and cleaning the duct will only loosen the mold, contaminating the air that flows throughout your living space. Instead, the root cause of the moisture problem needs to be addressed, and the infected duct should be replaced with a new one.

Additionally, some companies use duct sealant to conclude the cleaning process, claiming it strengthens the duct. However, sealant is not necessary and is made of flammable material, which can be dangerous.

Instead of air duct cleaning, experts recommend replacing your filters every three months to maintain indoor air quality. This will ensure that your HVAC system is running efficiently and effectively. If you discover a mold problem, replace the infected duct with a new one.

In conclusion, air duct cleaning is unnecessary and may do more harm than good. Don’t be fooled by marketing tactics and false claims. Keep your indoor air quality in check by replacing filters and addressing the root cause of any mold problems.


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