Author Topic: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?  (Read 3796 times)

Mom to 5

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Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:01:34 AM »
Should this be done?

We are changing the filters almost monthly when using heat or air con. However, they get rather dirty. My energy provider sent an email suggesting people can save up to $149/yr on electric if the vents are cleaned. We have never had it done before. House is eleven years old. What do you think?
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 10:26:25 AM by Mom to 5 »

RetiredAt63

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2014, 10:11:09 AM »
What do you mean when you say you are changing the vents monthly?  Aren't vents rather permanent?  Are we using different terminologies?

I change my furnace air filter monthly - I use the cheap ones because the expensive ones clog up just as fast with the dog hair, so they don't last the three months they are supposed to.  I imagine my vents are cleanish but not superclean, and even if I got them cleaned they would get dirty again pretty fast.  I have also seen filters that go in the air outlets, but I don't use them because I think they would impede air flow.

Anyone with more HVAC knowledge out there?

Should this be done?

We are changing the vents almost monthly when using heat or air con. However, they get rather dirty. My energy provider sent an email suggesting people can save up to $149/yr on electric if the vents are cleaned. We have never had it done before. House is eleven years old. What do you think?

GuitarStv

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2014, 10:19:07 AM »
No.  If you have normal metal forced air ducting there are few reasons to ever have your ducts cleaned (pretty much limited to large patches of visible mold, rodent infestation, construction debris from when your house was built).  It is a popular fad way to waste some money.  It will not save you electricity.


http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html



Chuck

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2014, 03:53:07 PM »
Cleanings are fairly cheap but, as mentioned, fairly useless unless you have visible debris or some other major problem.

However, have your ducts sealed can save you a shit ton of money, although now we're talking about a much higher cost. I have a 600 c/f system, and I was losing just over 200 c/f due to the fact that energy was cheap when my house was built and sealing joints wasn't a priority. Now I only lose 30 c/f, and I am observing savings each month (I can't conclusively say how much until I observe a similar 6 month period this fall.)

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2014, 04:06:59 PM »
What kind of filters are you using?

I have one of the thicker filter boxes (16x25x4) and we get a good 6-9 months even in a very old, previously quite dusty house.

I have mild indoor allergies, so I find it worthwhile to get the expensive high allergen count filters.

Cleaning the air ducts to save $ sounds silly. Not sure why that would be the case.

frugalmom

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2014, 11:09:46 PM »
Friend owns an HVAC company.  I recently asked him about this.

He advised that any of the vacuum truck mounted systems were basically a scam.  No way to seal every vent and create enough positive suction to clean your duct work.  Those guys are big on disinfecting upsells.  Lots of Groupon deals here for duct cleaning.

The only "real" duct cleaning is when you send basically a robot through all the duct work.  His cost for me so imagine a small mark up, as we trade skills was $500.  He said it was an all day job and the rental of the equipment was $375.  This is typically done in fire restoration situations. I decided to skip it.

Instead I vacuumed the heck out of every vent including taking the dryer lint brush and taping it to the flexible house of our vacuum and feeding into all the openings.  I got some stuff so I felt like I accomplished something. 

sleepyguy

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2014, 06:16:16 AM »
SCAM, it's actually MORE harmful because they could disturb the current dust/mold that was otherwise immobile before being disturbed.


Eric

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 06:45:07 PM »
I've worked for a small company that did this on the side. (carpet cleaning was the main $$)

Here's what happened.  We cut a hole in your duct just above your furnace guts and attach a large vacuum.  We cover every register.  Then we turn on the vacuum and one by one open each register cover and blow compressed air down the duct.  So I think it's very possible to clean out your air ducts in this method and it can result in a fair amount of dirt and animal hair being removed.  But the only reason I can think of to do it is if you're an animal hoarder or have bad allergies.  Otherwise, I think it's probably a waste of money.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 10:27:33 AM by Eric »

Greg

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2014, 10:14:13 AM »
I had this done in a rental I lived in.  I approached the owner and he agreed to it, it wasn't very expensive and the ducts were a lot cleaner afterward.  Mostly I wanted it done to get rid of the dirt and hair in the ducts that collected and encouraged more dirt and potentially mold, for my allergies. 

If the ductwork is really caked up with lint like crud, it can affect the efficiency of the heat system just by slowing down the airflow.

Usually the filter is at the intake so if your intake air is filtered, you shouldn't need this done.  In my case the furnace was used for years without proper filter maintenance, since they were difficult to change.

FIreDrill

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Re: Getting HVAC ducts cleaned?
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2014, 10:26:06 AM »
We are actually getting the ducts cleaned on a house we are about to buy but not for efficiency reasons.  The previous owners apparently did not change the furnace filters and the home Inspector checked the ducts and found a lot of dirt, pet hair, and other stuff.  However, we will be doing some additional things to increase the efficiency of the forced air system.  For example, it appears that none of the duct work was properly sealed and taped up so there are ton of spots for hot air to escape.  On top of that the current owners have filters at EVERY outlet!  This is making the furnace work harder and is also creating a back pressure through the system allowing even more hot air to escape though all those cracks and crevasses.  The only reason I would clean a duct system is if there was a large amount of dirt or pet hair in it which you or a resident is allergic to.  For me, I'm allergic to cats, so that is why we are getting it done.