The ducts are the respiratory system of your home. They deliver air to the furnace or air conditioner, filter impurities from it and then redistribute that warm or cool air throughout the house so that you can live in comfort. Air ducts and electricity are what separate the modern home from the log cabin. And keeping those air ducts clean is one of the most important aspects of proper home maintenance. But we’ve noticed lately that quite a number of homeowners seem to be confusing air duct cleaning with air duct sealing. So we thought we’d take this opportunity to clear the air, so to speak, and go over the difference between cleaning and sealing air ducts.
Air Duct Cleaning v Air Duct Sealing
Since many of today's homes are virtually sealed against the outdoors, it's more important than ever that you keep your air ducts as clean as possible. Since virtually all the air you breathe when you're home will come from those ducts. But cleaning the air ducts is not the same as sealing them. And here are the key differences.
Air Duct Cleaning
Regardless of whether your ducts are sealed or not they're going to get dirty. As such, they'll need to be cleaned from time to time to prevent them from becoming super-highways for bacteria, mold and other allergens. The EPA states that most everyday allergies can actually be traced to a source in the home, and dirty air ducts will just make a bad situation worse.
Here are some signs that indicate you need to have your air ducts cleaned:
- You haven’t had it done in the past 2 years.
- You see dirt accumulating on the registers.
- The air emanating from the ducts smells foul or musty.
- You hear strange sounds coming from the ducts indicating you have visitors.
There are also specific circumstances that call for the air ducts to be cleaned. These include:
- After any type of home remodeling or restoration - The amount of dirt and debris that gets sucked into the ducts during renovation work can be considerable and will have to be removed.
- When you move into a new home - There is no telling how long it’s been since the previous owner had the ducts cleaned. If they ever did.
- After a natural disaster - Floods, tornados, dust storms and more cause huge amounts of dirt and debris to be released into the air. A lot of it winds up in our ductwork. During extreme weather events, water can wind up in the ducts too, spurring the growth of mold and mildew.
Keeping the air ducts clean is common sense home maintenance that can pay enormous dividends in both the short and long run. Now let’s look at air duct sealing and see how that differs from air duct cleaning or even vent cleaning.
Air Duct Sealing
Any HVAC technician or duct cleaner can tell you that a lot of the air that moves through the ducts in the average home winds up escaping. In fact, up to 20% or more of that air you pay dearly to heat or cool actually winds up just leaking out of the ducts and being wasted. So you can see why sealing up leaks in your air ducts might be a good idea. But it's not the same as cleaning the air ducts.
There are a lot of reasons why air ducts become leaky. Here are some of the most common ones.
- Time - Over the years, the air ducts expand and contract thousands and thousands of times due to being heated and cooled. This causes joints between the various sections of ductwork to loosen and air to leak out.
- Clogged ducts and filter - If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned and the air filter changed recently it could spell trouble for your ductwork. A clogged filter causes pressure in the ducts to build up. And this can cause leaks to open in the joints of the ductwork.
- Renovation or remodeling work - Although they don’t mean to workers moving things around inside the walls during a renovation can create leaks in the ductwork. Maybe they hit the duct with a hammer or their elbow and jarred something loose. Or maybe they had to take a section out to move it and didn’t put it back properly.
In any of those instances, someone will need to go in and reseal the ducts. Once that's done you should then call Steve's and have us come to clean out the newly sealed ductwork.
A Note About Vent Cleaning
We mentioned vent cleaning a bit earlier, and that's another aspect of home maintenance that must be attended to in order to reduce the odds of a destructive or deadly fire. Talk to the pros at Steve's about having your dryer vent cleaned at the same time you have your air ducts cleaned.
The Bottom Line
The benefits of air duct cleaning are many and significant. But cleaning and sealing are not the same thing. If you haven't had your ducts cleaned in the past 2 years, it's time to call Steve's and set things right. Also, keep in mind that perhaps the most important piece of ductwork in your home is the dryer vent. Since a clogged dryer vent can and often does lead to a house fire. So make sure you ask our technician to clean it at the same time they're cleaning the ductwork.