With many of us spending more time at home over the past couple of years, there’s a renewed interest in maintaining a comfortable living environment. This may be increased by the fact that many are now using the home as a primary or secondary workplace.
Especially in Florida, most would agree that a key aspect of a pleasant home environment is an optimized HVAC system, one that’s moving air well, with minimal accumulated debris in the ductwork and around vents.
Since it is natural — unavoidable, in fact — for dust and dirt to accumulate in the system over time, having a professional duct cleaning can help.
First, what is an air conditioning duct? Ducts are the channels or passages used to move air in an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. The duct system connects to vents that deliver the air to each room in your home.
The two most common duct types in Florida are flex, which is flexible, bendable material and is present in about 80% of Florida homes, and duct board, which is a 1.5-inch fiberglass board. Metal duct is a third style, but isn’t common in Florida, and is comprised of thin, hard metal sheets.
Over time, the vents will accumulate dust and dirt. Debris will build up inside the ductwork as well. This is caused by factors such as not changing the HVAC filters regularly (monthly is the general recommendation) and from small holes or openings that can appear over time in the ductwork.
Additional problems can appear if any debris inside the duct system attracts moisture, says Alan Wilson, Millian Aire’s Vice President of Technology and Training.
The duct cleaning process begins with the removal of the vent grills so they can be cleaned, and to gain access to the ductwork. A rotating brush is inserted into the ductwork to loosen and remove debris. A vacuum, which is attached to the back of the brush, is used to thoroughly remove the debris. Millian Aire’s duct cleaning service also employs an “Air Scrubber,” a large filter that’s run during the process to capture additional debris.
Wilson adds that the process has improved in recent years with the advent of softer brushes that are more flexible than earlier versions and rotate gently, making them less likely to damage or disturb ductwork.
Duct cleaning typically takes about a half day and can be done while residents are in the home, although the air conditioning will be turned off during the process.
After duct cleaning is complete, the recommended next step is to have any holes in the ductwork patched using a duct and air sealing technology called Aeroseal, adds Michael Stein, Millian Aire’s Director of Marketing & Analytics. This prolongs the value of a duct cleaning by closing off holes into which debris can enter the ductwork, elevating the system’s efficiency and extending the time until the next duct cleaning is needed.
- Less dust and other particulates in the air
- Less irritants for those with allergies
- Less odors and aromas
- Eliminates any rodents or insects that have found their way into the ductwork
- Better-looking, cleaner vents
The optimal time for duct cleaning will vary, depending on factors including how regularly the filters are changed and if the ductwork develops any holes or creases over time. But Wilson identifies a typical timeframe of every 7-10 years for most homes.
How will you know it’s time? Watch for these signs:
- Dust buildup at the vents, or seeing dust coming out of them
- Elevated allergies and sneezing when at home
- Abundant dust, dirt, and debris on the air filters when you change them