How to Inspect Your Furnace or Air Conditioning Ducts

Do you have uneven heating or cooling in your home? If you have central air and heat with a duct system, you may have a blockage in your duct system. Many items can find their way into the ducts and cause a blockage. This can cut off air to one or more rooms in your home, causing uneven temperatures. It can also cost you more on your energy bill and put extra stress on your HVAC system. Here are some tips on how to inspect your ducts to find blockages.

  • Check air flow. Turn on your heat or air and check all the vents in your home for air flow. If any do not have air coming out, there may be a blockage in that duct. If low air is coming from all ducts, check your air filter – it could be clogged and need replacement.
  • Remove vents. If there are vents with low to no air, remove the vent cover. This is often where debris gets caught, pushed up against the vent cover. Clean away any debris and check the duct for any blockages as far as you can see using a flashlight.
  • Make sure valves are open. If the vent and filter are clean, but there still is no air going to certain rooms, make sure the valves for the duct are open. Most systems have valves in the ducts to close air flow to certain rooms.

If after your inspection, you are still having air flow issues, call your local HVAC service team for a system efficiency analysis. There is possibly a blockage in your ducts that may need to be cleared by a professional.

Posted on behalf of:
Western Aire Heating & Cooling
Marietta, GA 30066
(770) 505-7426

How Often Should You Clean Your Air Ducts?

Do you know what is inside your air ducts? You should. The air you breathe is affected by the ducts that transport the air throughout your home. If there is mold, dust or other harmful debris in your ducts, it can affect the air quality in your home. Cleaning out your ducts helps protect the air quality and the health of your family. The question is, how often should you have your air ducts cleaned?

The answer is not as simple as it may seem. Depending on your HVAC system and where you live, this can vary. A well-sealed duct system in a mild climate may stay clean easily. A wet climate can be more likely to grow mold in the duct system, while a dusty area may be more difficult to keep ducts clean. However, all ducts should be cleaned and maintained.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends homeowners get their air ducts cleaned every three to five years. This is an average; your home may need it more often, like once every year or two. Or, you may not need them cleaned for six or seven years. The best way to know for sure is to have your air ducts inspected. Many HVAC service companies can inspect the interior of your air ducts using digital video cameras. This can be done as part of your annual service, giving you an inside view of what is hiding in your air ducts.

Out of sight should not mean out-of-mind when it comes to your air ducts. Make sure your ducts are kept clean with regularly professional cleanings by your local HVAC service.

Posted on behalf of:
Western Aire Heating & Cooling
264 Buchanan Highway
Dallas, GA 30157
(770) 505-7426

Sealing Your HVAC Ducts

Your central heating and cooling system uses a network of ducts to distribute heated or cooled air throughout your home.  The EPA estimates that on average, about 20 percent of the air moving through these ducts leaks out before reaching your vents.  All this lost conditioned air means that your HVAC system must work that much harder to keep your home comfortable.

In addition, if your ducts run through areas that get cold or hot like a basement or attic, insulating the ducts can improve the performance of your HVAC system.  Insulating and sealing your ducts can help with uneven heating and cooling problems.  The rooms farthest from your air handler are usually the most affected by this problem.

Some ducts are inaccessible because they are concealed behind walls or in ceilings or floors, but if your ducts are accessible in your crawlspace, basement or attic, sealing them properly can save you money on your heating and cooling bills and keep your home more comfortable.

If you choose to tackle the project yourself, use mastic or metal tape to seal any leaking joints in the duct system.  Be sure to check around where the ducts connect to the vents and make sure these connections are well sealed.  Insulate any ducts you have access to.

A better alternative is to let a reputable local HVAC contractor with experience in air duct fabrication handle the job.  They will do a professional job of sealing and insulating your ducts and can identify any other problems with your ductwork such as improper installation and design.

Pros and Cons of Duct Cleaning

If the air ducts in your home are dirty, having them cleaned can lead to improved air quality and may also maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.  Air ducts that are clogged with dirt, dust and debris can cause your HVAC system to work harder.  Very dirty air ducts reduce the air flow through your ducts and can lead to uneven heating and cooling.  Removing all that dirt, dust and debris allows air to flow through your ducts as the system was initially designed.  Your HVAC system works more efficiently and your home is heated and cooled more evenly.

In addition, mold and mildew can grow in your ducts, especially if the ducts are dirty.  Every time your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump kicks on, airborne mold and mildew spores are blown into your home where they can aggravate allergies and increase the incidence of asthma attacks.

If you are considering having air duct service, there are a few precautions you should take.  First, make sure your ducts are actually the source of the problem.  You can check the condition of your ducts by removing an air register and inspecting the inside of the duct with a flashlight and mirror.  If the duct looks clean, you may not need duct cleaning. Your HVAC contractor can also inspect your ducts for you and let you know if cleaning is needed.

When choosing a duct cleaning service provider, be sure to use a reputable duct cleaning service or better yet, find a reputable local HVAC contractor who also offers duct cleaning.  They will be able to identify any other issue with your ducts.  For example, your ducts may need to be sealed.

After your ducts are cleaned, use a pleated high efficiency air filter and change it often.  This will keep your ducts clean for years, protect your HVAC system, and improve indoor air quality.

Duct Cleaning

Many homeowners have their air ducts cleaned in an effort to improve their home’s indoor air quality.  The effectiveness of air duct cleaning is the subject of some debate, largely due to duct cleaning companies who make inflated claims about the dangers of dirty ducts and the improvement you can expect from clean air ducts.

Before you spend money on duct cleaning, you should know that not every home needs duct cleaning and most homes don’t need routine duct cleaning.  However, duct cleaning can improve the air quality in many homes and for some homes, air duct cleaning can lead to improved health, especially for asthma and allergy sufferers.

Anyone who has changed their furnace filter knows that a lot of dust, dirt, pet hair, and other airborne debris circulates through your heating and air conditioning ducts.  In many systems, all this dust, dirt and debris can accumulate on the inside of your ductwork.  If you use a high efficiency pleated filter and change it regularly, you may not have much accumulation in your ducts.

On the other hand, if your HVAC system is equipped with a standard flat filter and you often wait a little too long between filter changes, there may be buildup of dust and dirt in your ductwork.  Duct cleaning can remove this buildup and lower the amount of dust, dirt, pet dander, and other airborne contaminants that are re-circulated through your home via the HVAC system.

If moisture accumulates on this mat of material, it can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.  Mold and mildew spores are then distributed throughout your home every time your air conditioner, heat  pump, or furnace turns on.  If you or a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, duct cleaning under these circumstances may offer improved air quality and reduce allergic reactions.