Have you noticed those small pieces of lint that whirl from an air duct every time you start up your heating, ventilating or air-conditioning (HVAC) systems? Have you seen dust or even (animal) hairs on an air valve or air vent? If dust is covering the extraction vent in your bathroom or toilet, this may be a sign that your air duct network requires a thorough clean. Within your ventilation system, particulates deposit themselves on the internal surfaces of air ducts, on vents, fans, air handling units and condensers. In turn, flakes of dead skin, hair and other organic contaminants settle on the dust inside the ventilation system and, within just a short amount of time, form an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, dust mites and allergens. Air filters remove most of these pathogens from the airflow, but these are not removed from all parts of the ventilation system. Therefore, check your air ducts regularly for the accumulation of dirt.
Top 5 indicators of dirty air ducts
- Open an air vent and take a look inside the air duct. Check for the accumulation of dirt, debris or microbiological contamination.
- Check the return vents for the accumulation of debris in general, but pay particular attention to thick, fluffy deposits of dust.
- Remove the air filter from the air handling unit. If the filter is full of dust, this will impede air flow. In turn, this impediment will result in additional dust accumulating in the return ducts, because of the lower air speeds in these ducts (in terms of air, ducts in front of the filter)
- Open the air handling unit or ventilation unit. Examine the fan, motor and electrical circuit for dust accumulation. The more dust you can see, the worse the problem.
- Take a look at the condenser. If the condenser is dusty or if dust is hanging from the edges of the casing, the air filter hasn’t worked properly.
Each of the aforementioned indicators is a sign that your HVAC system and air duct network are experiencing the negative consequences of too much dust and dirt.
Top 5 consequences of dirty air ducts
What is actually the problem with a bit of dust and dirt? There are a number of problems that are caused by dirty air ducts, ranging from increased energy consumption and associated costs, to health problems.
- Dirt and dust impede the heating or cooling function of your ventilation system. In the winter, dirty condensers don’t heat efficiently. In the summer, dirty condensers will not be capable of cooling the air adequately. In both cases, the ventilation system will need more time to do its job, as a result of which ultimately it will use more energy to heat or cool the indoor environment.
- Dirt and dust impede smooth airflow. Suppose that your ventilation system has a good heating or cooling function. But if the fan is restricted by increased resistance caused by an accumulation of dust or dirt in or on the fan, or even further along the ventilation system, the system is unable to circulate the heated or cooled air efficiently throughout the building. It will therefore increasingly need more time to do what it has to do and, as a consequence of this, will use more energy.
- The longer that an HVAC system in in operation, the more wear and tear it will be subject to, as is the case with every system with moving components. This especially applies to water pumps, burners and motor bearings. The effect of the aforementioned points 1 and 2, in addition to increased energy consumption, is therefore also faster wear and tear of the ventilation system.
- Dust not only consists of fine particles, but also flakes of dead skin, particles from pets, micro-organisms, pollen, fungal spores and even rodent excrement. When this type of dust contaminates the system, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria, mites and other pests.
- Dirt and dust spread faster in homes with dirty air ducts. It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you dust and clean your home; fine dust particles, including hazardous allergens, will flow quickly from room to room and will cover tables, smartphones and toys.
Top 5 advantages of air duct cleaning
An annual visit by a professional air duct cleaner to inspect your ventilation system – and the associated actions if it is found that cleaning is required – can avoid many technical issues and health-related problems. In terms of heating and cooling, there are the following advantages:
- Improved and reliable performance of your HVAC system.
- Less expensive maintenance costs caused by wear and tear and a generally longer lifetime of your ventilation system.
- Increased energy efficiency, resulting in a lower energy bill.
- Lower incidence of respiratory problems or allergic reactions.
- Less dust, resulting in less cleaning being required in your living areas.
Ultimately, the cleaning of your ventilation ducts is definitely not a do-it-yourself project. And it definitely isn’t a job for an inexperienced person using unsuitable equipment. A thorough clean would mean that at least 95% of the ventilation system has to be cleaned. This is only possible with industrial cleaning appliances and the contribution of technological tools. That is why you should only entrust your cleaning project to a company that can offer these guarantees.