Dirty ductwork is a top culprit in indoor air quality issues, allergy flare-ups and the colonization of indoor pests. Build-up in the ducts may permit mold growth, and allows allergen-filled air to circulate around your home. Here are six ways that you can work on preventing dirty ductwork to keep indoor air clean and healthy.
The easiest way to prevent dirty ductwork is to reduce the available dust and debris that could be pulled into the system. Not many people like to dust, but it’s an important chore with potentially severe consequences if it’s not done right. Clean and dust regularly, and do a deep clean at least once per month.
Pay particular attention to the baseboards, tight corners and spaces under furniture. Wipe down all vent covers and air registers. These places are hard to reach and easy to forget, so they’re prime dust traps. Every bit of dust in your home has the potential to make its way into your ducts, encouraging the proliferation of dust mites.
Get Regular HVAC Maintenance
Have your entire HVAC system serviced at least once per year to keep it running its best. Regular servicing helps keep trapped particles out of your furnace or A/C unit, and also ensures that the blower motor is running at peak efficiency to maintain proper airflow through the ducts.
Check the filter at least once a month, especially during high-use months for the system, and change it as needed. In general, high MERV rating filters capture more particles and have a more positive impact on indoor air quality, but they must be replaced more often than low-rated filters.
Seal the Ductwork
Ideally, air gets pulled into the ducts through air supply registers. In many newer systems, these registers will have their own filter to keep dust and debris out of the ducts. In reality, most ducts have air leaks that also allow unfiltered air to be pulled in through the sides along the length of the duct. Sealing your ducts eliminates these air leaks to effectively prevent dirty ductwork.
In terms of keeping your ducts clean, it’s most important to seal the ducts before any home renovation projects that throw extra dust, sawdust and potentially toxic chemicals into the air. From an energy efficiency perspective, ducts should be sealed anyway to prevent the loss of conditioned air in spaces like attics and basements. Sealing right after a duct cleaning can help keep the ducts clean longer.
Clean Any New Duct Additions
Pieces of ductwork are typically oiled to prevent damage during shipping and handling. Dust and debris sticks to the oil as the piece works its way to its final destination, and can be quite filthy by the time it reaches your home. Take a little extra time to thoroughly clean new ductwork before installation, or check with your professional HVAC contractor to ensure that all pieces are clean.
Maintain Healthy Air Intakes
The air intakes may pull air from inside your home, or they may be placed outside to draw fresh air into the system. These intakes are typically the single biggest source of ductwork contamination. Check outdoor supply intakes regularly, clearing any debris from the protective cage around the supply vent. If it has a filter, check it at least once a month and after high wind.
Indoor air intakes need to be dusted regularly, but usually take little additional maintenance. However, some intakes are placed in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms or other high-moisture areas. These are a huge source of potential trouble. The potential for mold and mildew growth in the ductwork skyrockets as the system draws moist warm air into the ducts.
Sometimes the solution is as simple as running exhaust fans during showers or a load of laundry, plus wiping down the registers with rubbing alcohol during normal housecleaning. If moisture problems persist, don’t ignore them. Worst-case scenario, the ductwork has to be re-routed to a new air intake in a different part of your home.
Get a Ductwork Inspection
It’s hard to know what, if anything, is wrong with your ducts from an outside perspective. Ductwork is a closed system, and you may not recognize the true nature of poor indoor air quality symptoms. Get a professional ductwork inspection to check for mold, mildew, moisture buildup, airflow issues and other common duct problems.
For more information on how to prevent dirty ductwork, contact our experts at ACS Absolute Comfort. We serve Houston, Bellaire, Cinco Ranch and the surrounding areas.
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