A common and understandable question among homeowners is “How often should I be cleaning the air ducts in my house?” After all, everyone likes the idea of having clean air flowing through their home. But the question often comes up – just how often does an HVAC system need to be cleaned in order to ensure top quality air?
The short answer is, “It depends.”
Fact is, not all homes are created equal, and not all living situations are the same. However, there are six factors that play a strong role in whether or not you will need to clean out your HVAC system on a regular basis.
1. Smokers in the Household
As if you didn’t need more reasons to avoid smoking, here is another one. Whether it’s cigarettes, cigars, or whatever else, smoking introduces a great amount of contaminants into your HVAC system. Those fragile puffs of formless matter that rise through the air from the tip of your cigarette will continue to rise and spread long after they have seemingly disappeared. They enter your HVAC system through the ducts and end up forming a thick coating of contaminants within the duct ways.
Another direct effect from smoking is the smoke dust. The byproducts of smoking a tobacco cigarette are smoke and ash, but there are many different chemicals within the smoke. Some of them, such as the tar and paraldehyde, are believed to attach onto dust indoors, causing the dust to become sticky. The result is that dust more easily gets lodged into your HVAC system.
2. Pets that Release Hair and Dander
When it comes to shedding, not all pets are created equal. Some hardly ever make a mess, but others require a lot of maintenance, and these are the breeds that create problems for your ventilation. Pomeranians, chows, malamutes, collies and golden retrievers are dog breeds that have a tendency to shed more. Cat breeds that are high-shed include Himalayans, Norwegian forests, Maine Coons and Ragdolls. So unless you are able to closely track every hair that falls from their bodies, you can bet that that dander and hair is getting into your air ducts.
3. Water Contamination or Damage to HVAC System
Moisture naturally ends up in HVAC systems, particularly when your air conditioning unit is run regularly. Moisture gathers within the dark confines of the air ducts and causes mold and mildew to grow. While that usually isn’t much reason to panic, large amounts of water can create large amounts of mold which will quickly turn into a serious issue that can affect your family’s health.
4. Recent Renovations or Remodeling
The act of breaking down walls, stripping paint, tearing up carpet, or any other indoor home renovations will undoubtedly stir up an excessive amount of dust, even if the work is completed in a relatively short amount of time. Prolonged renovations become even more problematic as it relates to air quality. This is why it’s important to consider having your air ducts cleaned after any home remodeling or renovations take place.
People with allergies are naturally more sensitive than non-allergy sufferers to contaminants in the air, so air ducts in homes where people with allergies live will need extra attention and more frequent cleaning.
6. Prior Occupancy of a New Home
You’ve just purchased a new home and you’re proud of your investment. You bought the home from a nice couple who decided to move elsewhere. You don’t know much about them, but they seemed nice and clean. No need to worry about your place, right? Actually, you should consider getting your ducts cleaned as a precautionary measure. Much like all other previously owned items, you can never tell if the previous owners really were clean, so it’s best to just be safe.
It’s impossible to give a cut-and-dried answer to the general question of how often people need to clean the air ducts in their home without knowing the specifics of your situation. The best move is to simply consult with a professional and let them help you decide if it is something you need or not.
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