Cleaning ducts

Hi everyone,
I was wondering if anyone could suggest the easiest way to clean out ducts. For the most part they run straight from the basement up to the various floors except for one duct that has a turn.
Thanks very much,
Carl
www.carlbernardi.connect.to www.geocities.com/billbobbarama
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<< I was wondering if anyone could suggest the easiest way to clean out ducts.

Duct cleaning is a totally useless chore. It is virtually never routinely done in public buildings for a very good reason: filtered air in the system deposits practically nothing in the ducts. Save your energy for washing windows, painting the living room, whatever. Any HVAC tech can attest to having seen 40 year old ducts that are still serviceably clean. There are exceptions of course, like if a major dust storm blew through the house, or a herd of rodents died in the ducts. HTH
Joe
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041119 2024 - Joe Bobst posted:

I am recalling, years back when I was an electrical apprentice, I was working on a University General Library. They had added on a section to the building for added book stacks, and the air circulation system needed upgrading. The building was built around 1908, and up in the fan room there was a huge squirrel cage fan with a large flat pulley, and on the floor was an electric motor, 5 horsepower, with a wooden pulley wheel on it. This worked a leather strap belt around the fan pulley, and the starter for the motor was a hand operated star starting and delta run motor starter. We upgraded the motor to 10 horsepower and changed the belts to four V belts and pulleys to match, along with a new motor starter down in the lower service room. The air flow would be much greater with the new system. The electrical foreman had warned the General Superintendent of the General Contractor that with the increased air flow, dust that had settled into the ducts since 1908 might start moving through the system and out into the rooms. The General scoffed at this and paid little attention.
When the installation was completed, we tested the motor for rotation and then turned it off. The foreman instructed that when it was ready to turn on for operation, I was to just turn on the power switch, and not start the motor with the push button starter. Let the General Superintendent do that. The day arrived, and the General Superintendent came to the electrical foreman and told him to start the new fan system. The electrical foreman motioned for me to turn on the power switch. I did that and then backed away from the starter and motioned to the General Superintendent to go ahead and push the green button on the starter, that he could have the honors. He advanced toward the starter and pushed the green button. The starter banged into position. We couldn't hear the motor start, or the fan running because they were way up in the fan room. But soon we heard women screaming down the hall in the offices. I went out into the hall and down the hall about a hundred feet to the main office. There was a large window glass in the corridor wall to the office. I looked into the large room, with a high ceiling, and it was like looking into a fog. The women in there were struggling to cover their typewriters and paperwork, and then running out of there into the corridor. Similar occurrences were happening throughout the building. The General Superintendent came out into the corridor and saw what was happening and, in a panic, asked how to turn it off. I told him to go back to the starter and push the red button. He ran back into the service room and pushed the red stop button and slowly the devastation began to cease.
The air ducts were large enough to crawl through, and the University got a crew to get into these old ducts and, as thoroughly as possible, clean them.
Those visions are as clear to me today as though they had just happened yesterday.
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carlbernardi wrote:

Are you sure you want to clean them? I know a lot of people make money cleaning them, but why? Most don't need it. If you are truly in need of getting them cleaned due to mold or Allergy ;problems, you will likely want professionals to do the work right, as opposed to a householders approach. By professional, I don't mean the We will clean your ducts for $140 whole house guys. I mean the guys who really do the job.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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All the information was great, but I would like to get back to my original question. How do you go about cleaning ducts?
Thanks
Carl

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carlbernardi wrote:

There are lots of ways. with what you have available at home for do it yourself, you have two choices as I see it.
1. Do it right, dissembling all the ductwork possible, using brushes made for the job brush them out and then where possible do a wet cleaning and then sanitize them with a surface disinfectant. Re-assemble.
2. Well, there is no 2.
Complexity and added problems like handling flex duct and ducts are are not assessable add to the problem.
Professionally they have two general classes of cleaning.
1. The basic blow it out and maybe a little brushing cleaning, that does almost nothing in reality, but comprises 95% of all the cleaning people buy.
2. The real job which involves a far more complex and complete version of the first #1 using equipment and materials and knowledge that is not going to be available to the individual and will cost you a lot more than #1, but will do the job. Note, that each job is custom and what is done will depend on the reason it is being done. For example it may require special coatings inside the ducts to prevent things like mold from becoming a problem.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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I had my ducts cleaned by a pro with a 10000$ vacumme machine, I was sick afterwards for days , all the hard residue, mold pollen etc was released, Ive heard this is not uncommon.
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carlbernardi wrote:

Did it here a couple years ago. 40 yr house with all galv rect ducts. The returns were encrusted with a 1" thick layer of dust, animal fur, lint...you name it. The supply ducts weren't near as bad but were dirty.
I cut access openings where needed (made panels to screw on later) and used a big ShopVac with long hoses to get the worst out. Then ran a snake the length of the duct and attached huge wads of (dampened) rags to the end. Pulled thru several times. On the last pull we added a bit of bleach to the damp rag. Left the ducts open for a day or so and they dried out very promptly.
Did it all make a big difference? Not much:-( The effect on indoor air quality doesn't seem to be much, though the HEPA filters I'm using now at the furnace don't clog up nearly as fast.
There will be disagreement over this final step: Dust and animal fur are a big problem here. So I placed very coarse filters behind the return air grilles. Change them every few months. Amazing the amount of debris they have caught *before* it gets into the return ductwork. Since the material is so coarse, the effect on blower volume has been minimal.
Jim
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That's the point. The filter catches the garbage before it hits the supplies...
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carlbernardi wrote:

CMHC(Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp) did a research on duct cleaning. The result? No noticeable benefits. Tony
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Its your money, but give ya a hint...90% of that is a scam...
We dont offer it, and never have.
Never seen ducts that needed cleaning that bad either...and thats after thousands of inspections and installations..

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Duct cleaning. The only ducts I've seen that actually needed cleaning are the return ducts where the equipment filters are located downstream at the equipment from the return inlet.
indago related a great story as the older HVAC system used low level velocity to do the job, and as a result, dust does accumulate in the older supply branches. [I've personally experience something similar.]
Take the outlet register [grilles] off the wall, and do an inspection. If it looks generally clean, then it is unlikely you need them [ducts] cleaned. Some homeowner neglect to clean / replace filters, and sometimes the evaporator coils get clogged and need aggressive cleaning. The best way to find out is to look yourself.
--
Zyp
"Steve@carolinabreezehvac" < snipped-for-privacy@removethis.carolinabreezehvac.com> wrote
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wrote:

I popped for duct cleaning w/ my new furnace. I've had birds in the house for a while, and construction, and the old furnace smells like the first day of heat, every time it kicks on.
Seems like a good idea to me, but I've a special situation. Ever had an supply air duct fill up with bird seed and debris? <G> Not to mention an cold air return that was at floor level, which would pull in debris when sweeping or cleaning. I've moved the intake to above baseboard level to help with that problem.
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On 19 Nov 2004 17:04:02 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com (carlbernardi) wrote:

Once a year I put the shop vac hose down the register to clean out dirt, insects, x-mas tree needles, etc. --that's it. Anything more is a waste.
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Phisherman wrote:

Never had a grease fire in the kitchen while deep-fat frying fish, resulting in burnt-fish-oil soot deposited throughout the system, eh?
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So after all of that the best way to clean my ducts out is with a shopvac. As for the duct that is plugged, any suggestions.
Carl
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replacement
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Just throw a couple of cats in the duct work. They will chase each other all through the system and knock the dust loose. Then fire up the system and clean all the rooms again. You wife will love you for this wonderful solution. ;-0
carlbernardi wrote:

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