Spring and fall cleaning of a home can include many things, and not the least among them is the cleaning of the HVAC ducts. Damp air that is prevalent during the humid months of summer and the condensation that occurs during the winter season can spawn harmful mold growth. Some dust inside air ducts is normal though, and is not always an indication that the ductwork is in need of cleaning. It is important to note however, that although a substance may appear to be mold, a laboratory analysis may be necessary to determine if it is.
Insulation on air ducts that is wet or moldy cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced. If the conditions that created the mold are not corrected, the mold growth will likely recur. Ductwork may also need to be cleaned if there is evidence of rodents or insects have infested the air ducts, or if the ductwork has an excessive amount of dust.
Following a good preventive maintenance program will minimize air duct contamination. One of the easiest methods is to use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of the heating, cooling, and ventilation system installed in the home. Filters should be changed regularly, probably more often than recommended on the filter.
If the home HVAC system is equipped with an in-duct humidification unit, be certain to operate it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications. The presence of condensation on or near cooling coils can be also be a factor in the moisture contamination of the home’s ductwork system and at the least, is an indication of the potential for mold growth.
Cleaning the air ducts of the home may beyond the scope of the homeowner, and if so, companies that provide duct cleaning can be found by checking the Yellow Pages under “duct cleaning”, for your specific area. Talk to at least three contractors and always get a written estimate of the work to be performed. Be sure to have them show the evidence of contamination that would justify having the ductwork cleaned.
If the decision is made to have the home ductwork cleaned, familiarize yourself with duct cleaning methods and ask questions of potential duct cleaning professionals. For more information on home air duct cleaning, check out the National Air Duct Cleaners Association website at http://www.nadca.com, or the U.S. EPA indoor air quality website at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/.
Remember, always work safely.