It’s important that, when you find it necessary to have indoor air systems cleaned, the service provider you hire follows the proper duct cleaning procedures. An inexperienced or untrained provider can actually make any existing air quality problems worse by releasing more dust or contaminants into the environment than were there in the first place.
The EPA recommends that qualified air duct cleaning professionals should comply with the National Air Duct Cleaners Association’s (NADCA) air cleaning standards, and should agree to clean all components of the heating and cooling system – including supply and return air ducts, heating and cooling coils, heat exchangers, drain pans, fans and air handlers.
When should you have your HVAC and air duct systems cleaned?
“People often ask, ‘when should I have the ducts cleaned? How often should we have them done?’ I say, it all depends,” says Tom Peter, a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Vice President of Insurance Restoration Systems, Inc. “It depends on how old the building is and whether the ducts have ever been cleaned, how clean the building is, and what type of activities in the building generate dust. A clean building or home will have clean ductwork in most cases. People with pets have more dust and require more frequent cleaning. Facilities that generate a lot of dust require more frequent cleaning.”
“On average,” Peter continues, “a home should have the ducts cleaned around every 5 years. In commercial or industrial settings, the ventilation system should be inspected at least once a year to determine a cleaning schedule. NADCA recommends that commercial systems and medical facilities have the air handlers inspected once a year by a NADCA Certified Ventilation System Inspector.”
There’s no hard and fast rule, but certain conditions do warrant professional cleaning:
- When there is visible mold growth inside of ducts, on registers, grilles or diffusers or other components
- When air ducts are infested with any manner of rodents or insects
- When there has been a fire or smoke event that may have contaminated the HVAC systems
- When ducts or other components are clogged with enough dust and debris to be carried out into the building
- After construction and renovations to remove construction dust that can impact HVAC systems
What services will a NADCA-certified air duct cleaning professional provide?
- Before cleaning, inspect the system for mold in the HVAC system, using cameras to examine otherwise inaccessible areas. Identify if there are any materials that may contain asbestos such as insulation, depending on the age of the components. If asbestos is suspected, the material should not be disturbed without specially trained and equipped contractors.
- Protect all furnishings, carpeting, and equipment during cleaning.
- Use appropriate vacuum equipment such as high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) vacuums and filters that will ensure that no contaminants are released to the interior of the building
- Carefully combine brushing and vacuuming to dislodge buildup throughout the HVAC system and safely contain it for removal.
- Seal or repair any leaking or damaged ductwork that may allow allergens or other contaminants to enter air ventilation systems.
- Review HVAC maintenance and operating procedures for conditions that could negatively impact air quality
Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc. (IRS) is a premier provider of disaster recovery mitigation, environmental remediation, biohazard emergency response and HVAC inspection and cleaning in the New Jersey-Philadelphia-New York City area. IRS is certified by NADCA and have Certified Air Systems Cleaning Technicians and a Certified Ventilation System Inspector on staff. For businesses and property managers, an IRS Emergency Response Plan ensures having a pre-qualified contractor with a master services agreement, pricing and insurance in place before a disaster occurs.
It’s good to know that an air duct should be cleaned every 5 years. My wife has been sneezing a lot ever since we moved into our new home, and we are starting to worry that the previous owner had a cat. It may be best for us to hire a professional to regularly clean our ducts to remove any allergens that have accumulated.
Love how you mention about the time schedule for commercial duct cleaning. Many companies do not think about how important it is to do this. Thank you for mentioning the asbestos and how dangerous it can be. Crazy to think there is still so much in use where we are in California. Thank you for this post! I really enjoyed it
I recently inspected a home’s HVAC and found a few unwanted mice! Needless to say, that client wasn’t very happy at the end of the day. Who knows how long those mice were in there and how much of their stench got into that house… like you said, it’s good to have your HVAC inspected! Thanks, good article.