need your ductwork cleaned, but still have questions?
Basic Air Duct Cleaning FAQs
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.
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 illnesses or sickness, many physicians are now recommending cleaning your air ducts, which may provide relief, especially if they are suffering from allergies or asthma.
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’s 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 left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained serviced 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 air ducts cleaned if:
- Ducts are infested with vermin (rodents, insects, etc.)
- Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
- Ducts or other heating/cooling system components have substantial visible mold growth on the inside hard surface of sheet metal.
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.
Some contaminants typically found in air ducts are mold, bacteria, dead human skin cells, dust mites, pollen, pet dander, insects, rodents and their droppings, sheetrock, wood and concrete dust, sawdust and even coffee cups and soda cans. This duct cleaning question is asked most often.
Yes, by removing the allergens from the ductwork. Every time your heat or air conditioning system turns on, it further aggravates allergies and asthma by forcing those allergens into the living space of the home and into the air you breathe. Actually, many customers tell us that their doctors are recommending air duct cleaning for that exact reason.
Cleaning the air ducts can save you money by increasing the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system. A cleaner system does not have to work as hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Research done by the EPA shows that a buildup of even .042 inches of dirt can result in a decrease of furnace efficiency up to 21%. The dust that stays in your system will accumulate on the fan blades of the blower motor, the coil and the inside of your ductwork, which can reduce air flow up to 40%. This translates into higher energy costs for you.
Dust on furniture, the top of range hoods and ceiling fans will be reduced! Dust is made up of dirt, pollen, fibers, mold spores, hair and other allergy causing particles. About 95% of these are so microscopic, they will pass through your furnace filter and back into your home. Cleaning the ductwork means removing these contaminants from your home.
Our technicians will remove the vent covers as long as doing so will not cause damage to the covers or the walls. Some homeowners’ have their vents heavily painted or wallpapered over or they have silicone sealed around the edges. We will not do anything that will cause damage in your home.
No dirt will blow throughout the home during the duct cleaning. The power vacuum trucks we use are so strong, that any dust or dirt we are removing from the ducts will be pulled out directly to our truck. There is a constant negative pressure (vacuum) maintained throughout the entire cleaning process.
We are licensed by the State of New Jersey as a Licensed Home Improvement Contractor. We are certified by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) and have been for many years. Our cleaning method strictly follows all NADCA specifications and guidelines.
We are fully insured carrying both Liability and Workers Compensation policies in the amount of at least $1,000,000.
The access panel for the vacuum hose will be sealed with a specially made sheet metal patch which will be attached to the ducts with sheet metal screws. There will be a bead of silicone sealant run around the patch to ensure no air loss. The high pressure dislodger access holes will be plugged with a rigid plastic cap, specifically manufactured for such use. They will be airtight.
The sanitizers are totally safe, we use them in hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Envirocon and Oxine are chlorine based products manufactured specifically for ventilation system usage. They are EPA registered products and will kill mold, dust mites and many types of bacteria. They leave no lasting residue and break down to simple table salt. Envirocon is indicated for use in homes where people are present. Oxine usage recommends that the customer leave the home for 1 hour after it is applied. Click here for more information regarding the products we use.
We stand behind our work unconditionally. We have been in business since 1965 and have many satisfied customers!
An average size home with one heating system takes approximately 1.5 -2 hrs to clean. The time varies according to how many air handlers are in the home, and the location of the air handlers, ie. crawl spaces, attics, etc.
The National Air Duct Cleaning Association recommends that homes be cleaned every 3-5 years unless you have experienced a problem, such as a fire, flood, mold or had construction done in the home. Also allergy and asthma sufferers should clean their air ducts more often.
No, we do not use brushes. Brushes are round and most ductwork is rectangle shaped, so the brushes cannot reach both sides of the inside of the ductwork. Brushes cannot bend around or reach into corners, so as soon as they hit a turn in the ductwork, they go no further. Also brush systems are powered by very weak systems and the vacuum cannot possibly remove all dust, dirt and debris inside your ductwork. We utilize a high pressure compressed air and power vacuum truck system. The power vacuum truck is capable of moving 15, 855 cubic feet of air per minute. The high pressure compressed air-patented Viper Whip system has 220lbs of pressure and 200 cubic feet of air per minute. Our system can easily remove the most stubborn stuck-on debris inside the ductwork, especially in the corners.
1. Power Vacuum Truck- Our cleaning starts with the most powerful system available in the duct cleaning industry. This is the most important factor as the entire cleaning process is based around having enough vacuum power to remove all particulates from your ductwork.
2. Experienced Technicians- The second most important part of your cleaning is our team of fully trained, uniformed technicians. We have over 117 years of combined experience. Our technicians undergo frequent in-house training in order to stay current with the latest procedures and newest equipment on the market.
3. Negative Air Pressure- To begin, we run an 8” vacuum hose from the truck to the supply line of your system. All dust, dirt and debris is pulled directly back to the truck. No dirt will enter your home.
4. Register cleaning- The technician will remove and hand wash vent covers and stack heads with an EPA approved cleanser and sanitizer.
5. High-pressure Compressed Air– Each supply vent will be cleaned out using 200psi of air pressure to assure total removal of contaminants.
6. Scrubbing the System– While the system is under continuous vacuum, which creates a negative pressure in the duct system, we insert our patented scrubber through the trunk lines removing all traces of dirt, dust and debris.
7. Cold Air Return System-The entire air duct cleaning procedure is then duplicated on the cold air return side of the system.
8. Trunks and Plenums-All trunk lines, supplies and returns, and all plenums are cleaned using our patented scrubber system. All access points will be plugged using air tight caps.
9. Sanitization-All ductwork will be sprayed with an EPA approved, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial wash for thorough sanitization.
10. Sealing up– 20 gauge galvanized access panels will be installed over the holes and any access points required for proper cleaning procedures. A bead of silicone will be run around the opening and then the patch is screwed in place, assuring no loss of air will occur.
11. Completed job- As you can see, all the dust, dirt and debris has been completely removed from the inside of ducts, leaving a cleaner, much more sanitary system. The air inside your home will create a fresher and healthier environment for you and your family.
what is air duct cleaning all about?
Most people are now aware that indoor air pollution is an issue of growing concern and increased visibility. Many companies are marketing products and services intended to improve the quality of your indoor air. You have probably seen an advertisement, received a coupon in the mail, or been approached directly by a company offering to clean your air ducts as a means of improving your home’s indoor air quality. These services typically—but not always—range in cost from $450 to $1,000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climatic region, and level of contamination.
If not properly installed, maintained, and operated these components may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. If moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased and spores from such growth may be released into the home’s living space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people If they are exposed to them. If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, it is important to make sure the service provider agrees to clean all components of the system and is qualified to do so. Failure to clean a component of a contaminated system can result in re-contamination of the entire system, thus negating any potential benefits. Methods of duct cleaning vary, although standards have been established by industry associations concerned with air duct cleaning. Typically, a service provider will use specialized tools to dislodge dirt and other debris in ducts then vacuum them out with a high powered vacuum cleaner.
In addition, the service provider may propose applying chemical biocides, designed to kill microbiological contaminants, to the inside of the duct work and to other system components. Some other service providers may also suggest applying chemical treatments (sealants or other encapsulants) to encapsulate or cover the inside surfaces of the air ducts and equipment housings because they believe it will control mold growth or prevent the release of dirt particles or fibers from ducts. These practices have yet to be fully researched and you should be fully informed before deciding to permit the use of biocides or chemical treatments in your air ducts. They should only be applied, if at all, after the system has been properly cleaned of all visible dust and debris.
Note: Use of sealants to encapsulate the inside surfaces of ducts is a different practice than sealing duct air leaks. Sealing duct air leaks can help save energy on heating an cooling bills.
To find companies that provide duct cleaning services, check your Yellow Pages under “duct cleaning” or contact the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) at the address and phone number in the information section located at the end of this guidance. Do not assume that all duct cleaning service providers are equally knowledgeable and responsible. Talk to at least three different service providers and get written estimates before deciding whether to have your ducts cleaned.
Contact your county or city office of consumer affairs or local Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints have been lodged against any of the companies you are considering.
Interview potential service providers to ensure:
- They are experienced in duct cleaning and have worked on systems like yours;
- They will use procedures to protect you, your pets, and your home from contamination; and
- They comply with NADCA’s air duct cleaning standards and, if your ducts are constructed of fiber glass duct board or insulated internally with fiberglass, they use equipment that will not damage any internal duct linings.
If you choose to have your ducts cleaned, the service provider should:
- Open access ports or doors to allow the entire system to be cleaned and inspected.
- Inspect the system before cleaning to be sure that there are no asbestos-containing materials (e.g., insulation, register boots, etc.) in the heating and cooling system. Asbestos-containing materials require specialized procedures and should not be disturbed or removed expect by specially trained and equipped contractors.
- Use vacuum equipment that exhausts particles outside of the home or use only high efficiency particle air (HEPA) vacuuming equipment if the vacuum exhausts inside the home.
- Protect carpet during cleaning in inclement weather.
- Take care to protect the duct work, including sealing and re-insulating any access holes the service provider may have made or used so they are airtight.
- Follow NADCA’s standards for air duct cleaning and NADCA’s recommended practice for ducts containing fiber glass lining or constructed of fiber glass duct board.
A thorough visual inspection is the best way to verify the cleanliness of your heating and cooling system. All portions of the system should be visibly clean; you should not be able to detect any debris with the naked eye.
questions to ask in choosing a qualified provider
Many companies advertise duct cleaning-included in their long list of services, ie. carpet and upholstery cleaning, pressure washing, grout and tile cleaning and heating and cooling, for example. But no one can specialize in everything!
This is very important some companies have been in business for many years but only just recently began cleaning ducts. Their advertising implies they have been cleaning ducts for many years, but this is a falsehood.
Remember the oldest members have the most experience! And many companies state they use NADCA standards, but they are not truly certified by NADCA.
Many companies (especially big department stores) subcontract the work to independent contractors, so you have no idea who is coming into your home.
At a minimum, they should be trained to NADCA & OSHA standards. The technician should be experienced with HVAC systems and the different types of ductwork.
Many companies will say they have power vacuum trucks, when in reality, they have a portable machine mounted to the back of a van or pick up truck. There is no way you can compare a 4,000 cfm (cubic feet per minute) with 40HP portable machine to a 16,000 cfm, 350HP, power vacuum truck.
Be sure to get your final price up front! Be cautious, a disreputable company will not tell you what the final cost to you will be until after they enter your home. This places undue pressure on you, and puts you in the uncomfortable position of asking them to leave if the price is too high.
This may seem excessive, but what if a neighbor’s child was injured by the contractor’s equipment on your property?
In New Jersey, a contractor must be a licensed NJ Home Improvement Contractor.
This is important because mold is such a major health issue. An unqualified technician will just exacerbate the problem by spreading the mold throughout the entire home, causing further harm to you and your family.
A reputable company will send out fully uniformed technicians with proper company identification.