Maintaining Your Heating and Air Conditioning Units
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Maintaining Your Heating and Air Conditioning Units

Hello. My name is Max. My wife and I have five children who all live at with us in our large two-story house. My wife and two of our kids suffer from severe allergies which means keeping our home as dust-free as possible. I have learned that it’s crucial to keep our heating and air conditioning units properly maintained at all times. We have a fantastic HVAC company that comes out two times a year to perform routine maintenance on our system. They have taught me what I can do on a monthly basis in order to not only help with my family’s health but also keep our system running efficiently. I would like to share some of the tips I’ve been given. I hope you find this to be useful!

Maintaining Your Heating and Air Conditioning Units

Why Should Duct Cleaning Be Performed by Professionals?

Kristin Pierce

There are a few functions that the average homeowner can perform to keep their duct system clean, but the bulk of the activities should be performed by HVAC contractors or professional duct-cleaning services. There are too many hazards that an amateur with a shop vac and a long hose may encounter.

Duct work may have various contaminants and allergens that are already polluting the air inside the home, and if they are disturbed but not fully removed, they can cause serious health risks, especially to family members with compromised immune systems, severe allergies, or lung disorders. There are also various dangers from physical injuries that one faces when accessing the inside of a duct line.

What are the dangers lurking inside your duct work?

Physical dangers

Duct lines may be filled with various screws and pop rivets which have been used to connect various components together. Since these connections are made from the outside of the duct work, the sharp pointed ends protrude along the inner walls of the duct line. 

This is especially true at the end of the duct line, where your floor or wall registers are located. Reaching your hand into the dark recesses of the duct line to feed a vacuum hose into the duct work can expose a homeowner to serious injury as a hand or arm slides along the sharp edge of a screw or pop rivet.

Contaminants and allergens

Animal hair and dander can be a major health issue for allergy sufferers. Although you may be able to vacuum hair and dander from the registers with little problem, it could be collected deep within the duct system, especially if the HVAC system isn't used during moderate seasons such as spring and fall.

Rodent and insect infestation could also be an issue. Mice and insects can build nests or other obstructions, which can cause contaminants to collect in the duct work. Feces from the pests can also accumulate, dry out, and become airborne.

Mold can also be a serious problem if it grows along the inner walls of a duct and becomes airborne. Babies, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems can suffer serious consequences from exposure to mold spores that have become airborne.

What can a professional do about these problems?

Duct cleaning performed by contractors with specialized equipment can remove the problem contaminants from deep inside the duct line. They can also replace sections of duct that are filled with mold and cannot be saved by mold remediation.

Infestations of insects and other pests may require the services of a professional exterminator. Many duct-cleaning professionals will give a referral for a exterminating company with whom they have previously worked and received good results.

What can you do to keep your ducts clean?

Vacuum animal hair from the intake registers in your home on a regular basis, and keep your furnace filter changed according to the recommendations on the package.

If you want to help prevent mold as well as save energy, use a water-based duct sealant around any exposed connections in the duct line that you can access (check your basement). Apply it with a caulk gun and smooth it with a duct seal brush.

When the sealant is completely dry, wrap the connections with silver foil tape, not traditional duct tape, which doesn't work as well. You will keep moisture out while keeping warm or cool air inside your duct work. You may save enough money in doing this to pay for your next duct cleaning.

Contact a duct-cleaning service such as Capital Heating & Cooling for more information.