Heating Duct Cleaning

I know nothing about this subject, so no contribution is too small. My wife suggests cleaning out the ducts in our home heating system. She thinks it must be done professionally. I will spring for that, of course, but is it possible to achieve reasonable results using a shop vac--mine's a good one but doubt it could deal with encrusted stuff, if that is an issue. Best thanks in advance.
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LDR wrote:

The shop vac is not likely to help much, even if it needs cleaning.
The real question is why does your wife believe it needs cleaning? The industry has done a good job of selling duct cleaning without really telling anyone why it is needed. I strongly suspect that most duct cleaning done is not needed and does little or no good.
The same can't be said about furnace cleaning. I suspect far too few people check or clean their furnace. It should be inspected on a regular bases and you should expect to clean it from time to time. The lack of a furnace filter is a sure way to need a cleaning and the lack of changing a filter that needs it can do more damage.
So why does you wife believe it needs cleaning?
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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I did some research into this subject not too long ago, for my employer. It turns out there is a lot more to this industry than I ever imagined. Here is what I reported to him.
First, some useful links on the subject:
http://healthandenergy.com/air_duct_cleaning.htm " - two very useful articles about the history and effectiveness of duct cleaning
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html - the official consumer article from the EPA, referenced and paraphrased in many articles on the subject
http://www.cmhc.ca/en/burema/gesein/abhose/abhose_ce29.cfm - information from Canada's housing agency
http://www.nadca.com - home page of the National Air Duct Cleaning Association, containing consumer information and a listing of certified contractors
Based on these and other sites, here is a summary of the information I've found:
-Air duct cleaning on a yearly basis is not required or recommended. The EPA recommends at most that it be done on an "as needed" basis, and even the NADCA recommends it only every 5-7 years.
-Whether air duct cleaning actually provides any health benefits or improves indoor air quality is still under debate. Improvements in indoor air quality may best be achieved by removing shoes on entry, not allowing pets indoors, frequent vacuuming (with central vacuums being particularly good for this), and replacing filters on HVAC equipment.
-Despite the claims of some cleaners, dust mites do not breed in air ducts. They breed in carpets, beds, and upholstery, and are thus best removed with a vacuum cleaner.
-The duct cleaning industry is full of fraudulent practitioners, making broad claims and offering very low prices (often supplemented with add-on fees). The EPA and NADCA caution consumers against these unlicensed, "blow and go" cleaners, warning that an improper job can actually worsen indoor air quality. The EPA estimates that a proper duct cleaning job costs about $450-$1000 and takes about 4-8 hours; any contractor claiming less should be suspect. The EPA provides the following checklist for choosing a cleaner: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html#consumer%20checklist.
-A proper duct cleaning job should include all items on the following checklist: http://www.nadca.com/consumer_info/post_clean_checklist.asp .
-The use of spray sealants and chemical biocides is of questionable value, and may actually pose health risks. None of these chemicals have yet been tested or approved by the EPA.
I hope this information is helpful.
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net says...

The folks at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation looked at whether duct cleaning was worthwhile. The information is at the following link:
http://www.cmhc.ca/en/burema/gesein/abhose/abhose_ce29.cfm
A shop vac will do well for easily-accessible areas like the cold air returns, but it won't reach far enough to clean all of the ductwork.
Bear in mind that professional duct cleaning doesn't really do much to improve indoor air quality, and if anything tends to stir up a lot of dust during and immediately after the cleaning is completed.
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I replaced my a/c this year so when the "boys" were tearing stuff off the roof I was spraying the ducts with Clorox and orange clean. I used a rag mop to pick up the residue.
My ducts were sheet metal and straight as an arrow. Also short enough for me to reach every thing from the vents. The return was pretty bad and I got it from below and above when the old unit came off. Evap coil was almost completely covered with dirt. Previous owner must have either ran the unit with out a filter or used the 0.99 cent varity.
If your using something better than the 0.99 cent filters your ducting might not be all that bad. Have you looked?
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net says...

You guys are great and I thank you all for the information, and of course the best part is I don't have to do anything. I did think cleaning furnace filters, which is where I will start and stop. Thanks again. Larry R
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LDR Wrote:

Ive never been asked to clear out any warm air unit ducts.....i would recommend that you do it yourself as you are not affecting the operation of the unit....however remember to replace all registars exactly as you found them so that you do not affect the way in which the system is balanced......the odds are that you do not need to clean any of your ducts..id bet heavily on that
recommend a new radiator system
--
gastec


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