cleaning air ducts?


Hello, do you get your air ducts cleaned every few years? We are in a house for the last 3.5 years and haven't cleaned them. There is some dust and a few people are catching colds quite frequently.
Is it worth it? We have a gas furnace. Also, the family is quite sensitive to chemicals and I'm not sure if air duct cleaning would cause more problems.
Thanks for any advice!
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I've never had it done, maybe I'm too cranky to do this. I think this is like putting nitrogen in your tires, one more way to get into your wallet.
A humidifier would help with colds and general comfort, if you don't already have one.
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I'm pondering it for my 15 year old home. I doubt it's ever been done.
Evidently accumulated dust can actually impact the airflow in addition to the dust issue. And hell we vacuum our carpets, it stands to reason that cleaning the supply vents for the air we breathe would be a good idea.
If you have folks in your house allergist to dust and/or dust mites, it'd be well worth it. It's pretty inexpensive.
Places around here offer clean and clean/sanitize options. If you're worried about chemicals, just get the clean option.
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Todd H.
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There is quite a controversy over it.
I used to work for a gas utility. When air duct cleaning started they did NOT recommend it saying it was a waste of money. Then they got into the business themselves and then started saying it was needed.
The only time I have heard that it was good to do was when the house was brand new. The duct cleaners would clean out all the mud, sawdust, drywall dust, beer cans, leftover lunches and other disgusting things. At that time you would benefit. Also if you buy a house, you may want to clean out the ducts, particularly if there have been smokers in the building.
I once removed some ducts in my house that had been in place for 20 years. The inside had no dust, there was a minor coating of dirt on the inside of the duct that took soap and water with steel wool to remove. No duct cleaner would ever get that off the metal. Sometimes lint will build up in wood surrounded cold air return lines. These would probably be the only lines that need cleaning in most cases.

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As I understand it:
1) Air duct cleaning can be worth it if your ducts have never been cleaned (ie. from original construction). Lots of dust will settle after construction and it can be worth while having them cleaned at least once.
2) I don't believe they use any chemicals. Generally they will plug each of your vents and then use a tumbler to knock dust off the interior of your duct work while using a vacuum to suck out the dust. Note this will disturb the dust that's been, up till then, caked on the interior of your duct work.
3) humidifiers can cause more problems than they may assist with. Generally humidifiers are turned off during summer months, and generally the moisture that was injected helps promote mould growth.
regards, JW
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http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html
Bob
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ap wrote:

The only times I would consider it would be a very very old home, a very new home that had not had construction materials cleaned out or in a situation where you can not keep the humidity down to a reasonable level and mold may become a problem. I might add that in a few cases where allergies are a special problem. Note I have allergies and get regular treatment for them, but cleaning ducts is not going to help me or most fellow sufferers.
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How does people catching colds fit into this? It's about as related as if you had said "and my car battery is low quite often".

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I've had it done once in a new home after I lived there awhile. There was still two new phases being built and we have a lot of dust in the desert. I guess my wife felt better about it and maybe I did a little bit. I was not impressed with the crew; a bunch of knot-heads...vents scratched, not mounted right..screws ...yada yada. They spray some "smell goody" in the vents and want two arms and a leg. -- Oren
"Well, it doesn't happen all the time, but when it happens, it happens constantly."
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ap wrote:

No
No.
Example: My house is early 20th century, maybe late 19th century. After a lot of carping from youknowwho, I got into the ancient duct work and removed old Crayolas, TinkerToy parts, pencil stubs and typical flotsam left by growing tots. The whole lot filled maybe one small sauce pan. The less accessible cold air returns were almost pristine. I think I'll leave a note for the next occupant to check the ducts in the year 2090. YMMV
Joe
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ap wrote:

I would tape a piece of tissue paper over one of your room supply ducts for a few hours . Then peel itoff and have a look. If it filetered a lot of dust then get someone in for a look. If it looks clean I wouldnt bother .
Colds may be more frquesnt if you are not bringing in enough fresh air.
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