Preventing Dirty Ductwork: 6 Tips for Nacogdoches Homeowners

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iStock_000012354020Medium compressedEven though the ductwork is hidden behind the walls, floor and ceiling, don’t let it be a case of "out of sight, out of mind." The ducts serve as the delivery system for heated and cooled air. Just as you want to keep the veins and arteries in your body clear, it’s important to do the same for your home’s circulatory system. Here are six tips for preventing dirty ductwork in your Nacogdoches home.

Schedule Preventative Maintenance

The first way to keep the ducts clean is to maintain the heating and cooling equipment. Schedule maintenance in the fall for the furnace and in the spring for the air conditioner. During a tune-up, a technician clears away dirt, dust, mold and other contaminants. Removing this debris prevents it from making its way into the ductwork.

Regular inspections also include cleaning the coils, checking the refrigerant level, lubricating moving parts and changing the air filter. These tasks help the HVAC system perform at its peak while minimizing debris deposited inside the ductwork.

Have the Ductwork Inspected

Periodic inspections are important for identifying hidden sources of pollution. The ducts could be contributing to poor indoor air quality if:

  • They've built up a thick layer of dust and debris.
  • There are gaps in ductwork joints, which allow dust, insulation particles and chemicals to enter the indoor air.
  • Rodents or birds have set up nests in the ducts.
  • Mold colonies have formed on the ductwork walls.

You know you should have your home's ductwork inspected if:

  • You've been suffering from explained respiratory symptoms.
  • Airflow seems oddly restricted from some registers.
  • You thought you heard rodents scurrying around inside the ducts.
  • The house is dustier than usual.
  • You spot mold growing on parts of the heating and cooling equipment.

Seal the Ducts During Construction

The next time you take on a home renovation project, be sure the contractor covers return and supply registers with plastic. Then, try to keep the furnace or air conditioner off for the duration of the project. These steps keep construction debris from falling into the ductwork and potentially damaging the HVAC equipment.

Clean New Ducts Thoroughly

New ductwork is often contaminated with oil or debris from the manufacturing process. If you’re having ducts installed, make sure the technician cleans them thoroughly before securing them in place. If the HVAC system runs before the ducts are cleaned, oil and dirt could get into the equipment and circulate around your home.

Maintain a Clean House

Dirty ducts often contribute to a dustier home. Likewise, a dirty home causes the ducts to pick up debris when air circulates through them. To stop this snowball effect, create a weekly cleaning routine that includes dusting, vacuuming and cleaning mold growth from routinely wet surfaces.

Mold spores are particularly damaging if they enter the ductwork, since moist duct walls are the perfect place to grow. If mold colonies develop in the ducts, the spores circulate throughout the home, irritating the lungs of sensitive individuals. That’s why maintaining a clean home is so vital for preventing dirty ductwork and mold contamination.

Keep Return Registers Out of Certain Rooms

You want a steady flow of air around your home, which is why supply registers should be located in every room. Dispersed return registers are also important to help the entire home maintain an equal pressure.

However, never install return registers in the kitchen or bathroom. These rooms are high moisture production areas, which could lead to mold problems in the ducts if air is drawn from these locations. The kitchen and bathroom are also sources of chemicals, grease and odors you don’t want to spread around the house.

Benefits of Preventing Dirty Ductwork

By taking the time and making the effort to keep your ductwork clean, you benefit in a few different ways:

  • Preventative measures save you time and money. Duct cleaning services are available if you need them, but it’s best if you can avoid the hassle altogether by preventing dirty ductwork in the first place.
  • Cleaner indoor air improves your quality of life. Fewer contaminants floating around means you have fewer allergy symptoms and asthma attacks.
  • Increased HVAC efficiency lowers energy bills. By keeping obstructions from blocking airflow, you stay comfortable without paying more on utility bills.

Preventing dirty ductwork with a little time, effort and money upfront is clearly worthwhile. For more air quality tips, or to schedule services, please contact McWilliams & Son Heating & Air. We've proudly served Nacogdoches and Lufkin residents for over 30 years.