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(off topic) Air Duct Cleaning?

Discussion in 'Random Discussion' started by Sooky 47, Apr 26, 2004.

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  1. Sooky 47

    Sooky 47 Gone and dearly missed Thread Starter

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    Air Duct Cleaning?
    I have my furnace/Air conditioning ...... maintained yearly .
    But - should I also have the Air Ducts Cleaned for health issues?
    Pro & Cons:

    Any info appreciated.
    LU
     
  2. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts

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    82,163
    Hi Lu: I've never had that done since I saw a story about it on tv and how it's more often NOT necessary than really needed and how the duct cleaning companies rip people off or scare them into getting the cleaning done. I'm sure there are legitimate companies out there! Anyways...with your health problems I'd worry about the cleaning stirring up more dust and particles in your home. Don't want you sicker!! Take care. angel

    Here's what I found for you from an article on duct cleaning.

    Deciding Whether or Not to Have
    Your Air Ducts Cleaned

    Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.

    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.

    On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published Indoor Air Quality: An Introduction for Health Professionals that can be obtained free of charge by contacting IAQ INFO at the number listed in this guide. You may obtain another free EPA booklet from IAQ INFO entitled The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.

    You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.

    On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt, and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.

    You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

    There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

    Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.

    You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.

    If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.

    If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.

    Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects); or

    Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

    Other Important Considerations...

    Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning. This is because much of the dirt that may accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to health.

    EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned except on an as-needed basis because of the continuing uncertainty about the benefits of duct cleaning under most circumstances. If a service provider or advertiser asserts that EPA recommends routine duct cleaning or makes claims about its health benefits, you should notify EPA by writing to the address listed at the end of this guidance. EPA does, however, recommend that if you have a fuel burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, they be inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Some research also suggests that cleaning dirty cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers can improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. However, little evidence exists to indicate that simply cleaning the duct system will increase your system's efficiency.

    If you think duct cleaning might be a good idea for your home, but you are not sure, talk to a professional. The company that services your heating and cooling system may be a good source of advice. You may also want to contact professional duct cleaning service providers and ask them about the services they provide. Remember, they are trying to sell you a service, so ask questions and insist on complete and knowledgeable answers.
     
  3. valley

    valley

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    Nov 16, 2002
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    Hi Lu. My husband is an HVAC (Heating/Venting/Air Conditioning) mechanic so he knows all about furnaces and ductwork and all of that kind of stuff. I asked him what he thought about having your duct cleaned for preventative health issues and he says that it couldnt hurt. Dust collects in the duct, as do bugs and other fibers and as soon as your furnace kicks on, it blows all of that out into the air and you will breathe it in when you stir it up in your daily activities. It isnt really a problem for people without any illness in their lungs but for people who do, it could be an important issue!

    He said that if you want, you can open your furnace door and get the number off of the filter (thats the big screen like thing in the cover of the furnace itself...you cant miss it. Its big. It reminds me of the material they use to make those green scrubbies that you scrub your dishes with, lol). He says that you could buy a few of them (they are only a couple of dollars) and change your filter regularly. Keeping the filter fresh will cut down on the amount of dust that gets through it. Regular maintenance demand sthat you change the filter once a year but he says that 3 or 4 times is better..or if you really want to get the very best results possible do it once a month. And if you arent comfortable with changing your own filter, then you can just take the filter out and give it a good shake outside on a breezy day and vacuum it then put it back in.

    Of course you can add to the protection by getting the ductwork cleaned first and then following these procedures afterwards to make sure it stays clean for a long time.

    Also...Jake and I both have Asthma. I line all of my registers with several layers of cheesecloth. I change them twice a year...its amazing the amount of crud it prevents from going into the air.

    One last thing..I use those Pledge Grabits to dust with...it really grabs the dust and holds it in the cloth. Everything else I use only makes the dust fly up in my face.

    and take this with a grain of salt, Lu. I'm no expert thats for sure. This is just my and hubby's opinion.

    Hope this helps :)
     
  4. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts

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    Val: :eek: The report I saw on TV was strictly for the companies who only do one thing...clean air ducts...not HVAC companies like your hubby's! So no offense intended to him! :) Take care! Mar
     
  5. hewee

    hewee

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    Even if you have a washable green type of filter Lu you don't have to use it. You can buy other filters that will clean better and trap more junk. But keep a clean filter in the system. It will keep your air cleaner and saves you money because I clean filter lets the air tru better so your AC/heating system hve to work less.
    Watch the sales on filters and buy them by the case.

    Now if your system is getting a lot of junk in the ducks it is because you have not keep the filters clean or someplace along the line the ducks are not sealed. If this is your own home you can have it looked at and also get a foam spray that they coat all around the ducts to seal them. It also helps out cooling and heat lost.
     
  6. valley

    valley

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    oh goodness Mar....dont worry..I'm sure there are plenty of companies out there that are shady like the article says! And it never even entered my mind that you might be pointing a finger at Carl so dont worry. :)
     
  7. angelize56

    angelize56 Always remembered in our hearts

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    Phew! ;) Thanks Val! :)
     
  8. eggplant43

    eggplant43 A True Heart and Soul - Gone But Never Forgotten

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    This is one of my areas of expertise. Like anything else, there are pros and cons. There are many things in the indoor environment than can effect your health adversely. Removing visible dirt (dust) can have an immediate result. First I'd inventory your situation. look at all vertical surfaces such as floors, shelves, the base and and back of your refrigerator, as well as the top, tops of doors, windows. If all of these are dirty, I'd see to it that they get cleaned first being very thorough looking under things, above things, behind things, p[laces you don't normal think about. Then I'd institute regular cleaning to maintain your newly cleaned environment.

    Then I'd think about pets, cats being the worse. If you are away from the home for several days, do you become symptom free? If so, this is pretty diagnostic that the problem is in your home.

    Lastly, I'd look at the heating vents, if you have forced air, and look for symptoms of contamination, which would be dirty vents, dirt around the vent on the walls, carpet that is darkened around the vents. These are called filtration lines, and are symptomatic of a dirty system. Then you can make a physical inspection of the vents by removing the grills, and inspecting with a flashlight. If the ducting has never been cleaned, I think cleaning it is a good idea, at least once every ten years. You can recover the cost within years in the savings you will recover from making the heating system more efficient in it's operation, and you'll also extend it's useful life by allowing it to work less.

    When I had my fathers ducts cleaned, he said he could tell the difference immediately by the fact that the furnace was turning on once every two hours, instead of once every 20 minutes.

    I'll have more to say later, gotta run now.
     
  9. eggplant43

    eggplant43 A True Heart and Soul - Gone But Never Forgotten

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    In selecting a service provider, look for a professional that is certified, and proudly displays his/her Professional Association. In the US it is NADCA:


    http://www.nadca.com/

    Best source for a referral is a satisfied customer, check Real Estate Offices, doctors office that specializes in cardio/pulmonary, allergies, environmental specialties, Lung Association.

    Lastly, go with your gut. If it feels right, do it. A professional will be sensitive to your needs, challenges, and sensitivities, and should be able to propose a reasonable, and specific plan that will address your concerns. If someone is clearly not "connecting", run, don't walk away. When you hire someone, let them know you are consulting with a professional (me), and that you won't hesitate to fire them if they are not producing what they promised, and that you will sing their praises to the heavens WHEN they deliver.

    It is important for you to look at the whole picture, not just the duct cleaning. If you burn scented candles all the time, use carpet freshener, use a lot of potpourri, wear lots of perfume etc, you may be your own worst enemy.

    Hope this helps. If you have specific questions, please post them. Others may need this info more than you do.
     
  10. Sooky 47

    Sooky 47 Gone and dearly missed Thread Starter

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    Thanks to all who replied,
    Lots to look at for sure ..... I do change furnace filters 2x a yr. but I will increase this, thanks!
    and it it almost 10 years since I did have the ducts done last.
    I don't burn scented candles etc. but we all know what it lookds like behind the fridge :D even 2x a yr. Thanks again ....
    angelize56, valley, hewee, eggplant43 (welcome back eggy!)
     
  11. eggplant43

    eggplant43 A True Heart and Soul - Gone But Never Forgotten

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    Standard fiberglass filters are very inefficient, only stop about 11% of the particles, even when changed frequently. During heating season, monthly is recommended. You can improve their performance marginally by spraying them with a product like "dustoff". There are more efficient filters that come to mind like the ones made by 3M that cost quite a bit more than the fiberglass filters. This is the least that I'd use. I recommend a permanent, manufactured metal filter that is custom built, and cleanable by the user by simply rinsing it in the shower, or if small enough, a dishwasher once a month.
     
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