Spring Cleaning? Don’t forget your ductwork!
Paying a cleaning company upwards of $500 to do a whole house deep clean can be a waste if dust and debris in your ductwork is kicked back into the house as soon as the fan kicks on.
We had a booth at the Everett Spring Home Show in the Comcast Center last month, and one of the other booths nearby was a maid-service. Leslie Chapman, our Home Comfort Consultant, had one of their salespeople come by to put together a proposal for a home deep cleaning and was offered a 4 hour deep-cleaning for $450. That inspired us to do a blog on home cleanliness in an area that we have some expertise on, HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) ductwork. After all, what’s the point in deep cleaning your homes surfaces if the dirt and dust in your ductwork will just be pushed back into the home on your next fan cycle?
The challenge with ‘selling’ clean ducts is that most folks care little about parts of their home they cannot see until an issue becomes critical (e.g. rats in the crawlspace, sinking foundation, major allergies or hay fever, etc.)
There are two ways to improve your duct cleanliness (and also heating system performance), one of which we can help with (filtration) and one which we cannot (duct cleaning). When it comes to duct cleaning we recommend our partner company, Duct Vac Northwest, who can be reached at 360-572-0484 (please note that the ownership of Evergreen has no financial relationship with Duct Vac, as they are separate firms). Either route you take it is good to have a professional check out your ductwork to make sure it is sealed properly, unsealed ducts make great ‘homes’ for pests and vermin to get into your crawlspace or basement.
Depending on the type of heating system, duct cleaning can be performed every 3-10 years. Shortest if oil heat is used, longer if electric forced air or heat pump, with propane / natural gas being in the middle. It is always a good idea to do a thorough duct cleaning when replacing your system. If you have pets, children who play outdoor sports, do woodworking, or have family members with severe allergies, it is always better to increase frequency of duct cleaning. There are always those who say that this service is a rip-off, and obviously doing this every year or by shady service providers can be a bad deal; but with a reputable firm like Duct Vac Northwest, performed in moderation this can yield very positive benefits. You can read all kinds of horror stories online about folks who fell for the $99 coupon scenario where a duct cleaning company arrived on site with a vacuum and cleaned out the register areas and then showed you a $700 bill if you want the “whole” duct system cleaned. That was your $99 special. Sometimes they’ll even do the work without telling you and then shove a bill in your face and point to some fine print that states it costs more money to do the whole house and the $99 was for 1 supply run. Be careful to choose a reputable company.
If your ducts are clean it is still important to make sure your filters are also. A dirty filter can add up to $200/year in added electrical costs due to a blower having to work extra hard to push air through it. Above is a picture of a filter one of our technicians found at a local bank that did not have a regular maintenance program. Paper/media filters should be replaced every 3-6 months; and electronic air cleaners also cleaned every 3 months (every 1 month if there are severe allergies or pets in the home). We at Evergreen sell 4” thick filters used for Honeywell F100 systems, call us on pricing for either single or bulk. We also install and replace electronic air cleaners (EACs), both individually and with HVAC equipment replacement. Our EACs of choice are Honeywell F300 (basic) and Trane Clean Effects (premium), again call us for pricing on these as applications vary greatly. There are additional products out there that can help with a more proactive approach on cleaning your air (like those used in hospitals) so ask us about that as well.
It should be noted that an eighth inch of dust (1/8”) in the blower housing can triple the energy required for a typical blower wheel in either an electronic air handler or gas/oil/propane furnace. Similarly, clogged ductwork greatly reduces system energy efficiency. Both of these can create health hazards if not addressed in a timely fashion.
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Rick J. of Lake Stevens, WA