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Spring 2013

Have You Cleaned Your Ducts Lately?

Because the ductwork inside your home distributes the cool air throughout your various living spaces, your central air conditioning system depends on the ductwork in your home. The air ducts help deliver air from supply and return vents, and they also affect indoor air quality if they are dirty. Cleaning your ducts should be part of every homeowner’s checklist, especially as the cooling season begins. If you notice that the filtered air of your home is no longer as fresh as it once was, or if you smell or see mold or vermin, please schedule a comprehensive duct cleaning today. The air you breathe in your home every day can be affected by the cleanliness of your ductwork.

Ducts are traditionally made out of sheet metal, which is installed and then later insulated, although there are also sheet metal panels that are self–insulating, with phenolic or foam panels inside the metal wraps. More recently, there have been advances in fabric and flexible ducts, but it really depends upon the specific application and your budget.

The following checklist may help you understanding more about the benefits to having your ductwork inspected and cleaned by a professional. If you have any of the following conditions in your home duct system, you should probably call in a pro:

  • Water damage. If you notice rust in parts of your ductwork or water staining around adjacent areas, then this may be a concern. You may have a humidity problem, resulting in excessive condensation and inadequate drainage.
  • Slime or microbial growth. Do you smell or see mold? This one should be obvious. Call a duct cleaner!
  • Debris build–up that restricts air flow. Excessive dust, dander or other debris can eventually begin to hamper your airflow, and can ultimately prevent your system from operating efficiently and effectively.
  • Dust discharged from diffusers. If you see or smell dust when your air conditioner kicks on, it’s likely that you have excessive dust in your ductwork.
  • Bad odor. If the air emerging from your ducts or in and around parts of your central air smells rank, this could indicate a problem with vermin infestation.

As with most problems in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, prevention is the key. Routine maintenance programs are an excellent way to stay on top of duct contamination problems before they start.  


The Importance of Changing Your Filters

Virtually all heating and cooling systems in your home involve some kind of filtration process. In many of your major units, such as the furnace or central AC units, it is crucial that your air filters remain free of excessive debris, dust and any other materials that may have found their way in.  Indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks. When controlling or eliminating the pollutant source and clean outdoor air are not always possible, the next step is proper air filtration.

Your filters are made of various fibrous materials, from synthetic media to poly/cotton blends; and often produced with particular surface textures, such as pleats in order to maximize their effectiveness. They may be installed in the ductwork of a forced air conditioning system to clean the air in the entire house. Mechanical air filters are the most common in residential applications: they work by capturing them on filter materials. HEPA (high–efficiency particulate air) filters are popular for homeowners, but it’s important to balance indoor air filtration with energy–efficiency. The installation of an improper filter may unnecessarily cut down on the passage of your cooled air. Understanding the right air filter for your home system can be difficult, but your local air conditioning technician can help.

In considering the importance of air filtration, you may come across something called MERV, which is an acronym for "minimum efficiency reporting value." This scale rates the effectiveness of air filters, and allows for accurate assessment of home health and comfort, reducing costs and increased energy efficiency in all aspects of heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Higher MERV ratings correspond to a larger percentage of captured particles on each pass. . For example, an air filter with a MERV rating between 1 and 4, like those often found in window AC units, should be able to capture pollen, dust mites, sanding dust, and other particles. In high–end commercial applications, air filters with MERV 9–12 can capture bacteria, lead dust and milled flour.

Air filters are often the first step to ensuring your air conditioning system’s longevity. When air filters become clogged, they can cause your AC system to overwork itself. In these cases, the filter has become not so much a screen for capturing particles as an obstruction in its own right. Routine inspection, cleaning and replacement of your air filter should be part of every homeowner’s spring tune–up. Contact your local air conditioning professional today.