AIR DUCT FAQ
AFTER THE CLEAN
Q: Will there be excessive dust in my home after the clean?
During the first 24 hours you may notice an increase in household dust since we are disturbing areas that have been untouched for years. You should plan a thorough dusting and vacuuming about 24 hours AFTER the clean. We will clean up after ourselves, but a good dust and vacuum will often still be necessary. If you have maids, it’s a good idea to have them come AFTER the clean, not before (when possible). This is a good excuse to put off your normal housework until we are done.
Q: Could air duct cleaning damage my ductwork?
Ripley Services uses systems designed specifically for the more delicate flex duct we frequently encounter. Safety clutch mechanisms, smooth components and soft brushes prevent damage. It’s virtually impossible for our system to damage duct work that is intact. There are occasions where duct work has become brittle, dry rotted, damaged from rodents, age and neglect. Generally we can see this type of damage in the debris field that is being extracted from the ducts. The clean won’t cause damage, but it may reveal hidden problems. This is extremely rare and usually an extremely old or neglected system.
Q: Will my home be less dusty after cleaning my air ducts?
That depends on the source of your dust. Often times, the HVAC system is simply recirculating contaminates entering the home through air leaks, windows and doors. An extremely neglected system with dust streaks across ceilings and buildup on vent covers should notice an immediate improvement.
Q: Will my indoor air quality (IAQ) improve after cleaning my air ducts?
Generally YES! But don’t underestimate the impact of carpet, upholstery and drapery fabrics on indoor odors and air quality. It’s important to remove trapped contaminates from all surfaces in the home. Carpet is a great air filter and that filter needs to be cleaned BEFORE it looks dirty.
Q: My vent covers still look dirty. Can these be cleaned?
The vent covers or “registers” often corrode or get dirty to the point where replacement is the best option. The registers are brushed during the clean. We don’t recommend washing metal registers due to the likelihood of future rust or paint peeling. When the registers get to this point, it’s a simple matter to replace. Most home improvement stores carry replacements for around $10-20. Just match the size and replace. Make sure to note the direction of the louvers. Ripley Services does not currently offer this service, but we are happy to install new registers if they are on-site the day of the clean. Alternatively, we can leave the old covers off for subsequent homeowner replacement if desired. The focus of air duct cleaning is to reduce airborne contaminates. While vent covers are brushed, dirty ceilings and vent covers are more of a cosmetic issue not targeted in this service.
Q: My system has a musty smell when it runs. What could cause this?
A condition called “dirty sock syndrome” can produce foul odors origination from bacteria on the evaporator coil. Properly cleaning a coil involves draining the system of Freon, removing the coil cleaning and reinstalling. When the coil is in this bad of shape, it often makes more sense to simply replace it while the old one is out. Backed up drain systems can also contribute to odors. We recommend a thorough inspection by a licensed HVAC company. If you don’t have someone you trust, give us a call and we will recommend one!
AIR DUCT MAINTENANCE
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How often should I have my duct work professionally cleaned?
Previously, the EPA recommended cleaning every 2 years. They have since updated that to an “as needed” recommendation. For most homes, every 3-5 years is sufficient. Occupants with breathing issues or allergies, dusty environments, construction in or around the home and poor filter maintenance may benefit from more frequent cleans. Additionally, homes with filters mounted in the HVAC Unit vs in the return vent could benefit from cleaning the “RETURN DUCT WORK” as often as annually, since this duct work is processing completely unfiltered air.
Q: What filter should I use in my unit to keep it clean?
Keep in mind, your HVAC system is NOT and air filtration system. The purpose of the filter is to keep the unit clean and running efficiently, not to scrub the air in your home clean. Separate air filtration systems are designed for this purpose. It is our recommendation to select a quality mid-grade filter but change it routinely regardless of the filter life rating. For 1 inch filters, we recommend changing monthly. For the large 4” filters, change every 3 months. This practice will do more to extend the time between cleans than any “high efficiency” filter. Too often, high dollar, low micron filters are substituted for proper replacement intervals, resulting in a restrictive or clogged filter. A dirty or restrictive filter will result in longer run times to heat and cool your home.
*PRO TIP – Write the date on the filter body when you install a new filter so you never have to wonder when it was last changed. Try to time filter changes with a recurring bill, like a mortgage or rent payment. Don’t pay the bill without changing the filter. We recommend a mid-priced 1” filter typically sold in 3 packs at around $15-20. The 4” filters available at Home Depot and Lowes at around $40 for a 2 pack will work for systems requiring the 4” variety.
Q: Is it ok to turn my unit off when I’m at work and back on when I get home to conserve energy?
This is a common mistake that leads to condensation and mold on vent covers and HIGHER utility bills. Extreme swings of over 8 degrees on your thermostat make it very difficult for your system to return the home to the proper temperature. In hot months, this problem is exacerbated by condensation that will inevitably form on metal vent covers when the Air Conditioner is forced to run for extended periods in a hot and humid home left closed up all day. We recommend setting thermostats back approximately 8 degrees from the normal setting while gone during the day. Programmable thermostats help and can be set to return to normal temps an hour before you get home, giving the unit time to catch up.
*PRO TIP – It’s not a good idea to turn upstairs units completely off. The first and second floors are rarely sealed off from each other, so hour heated or cooled air leaks up to the upstairs and your downstairs unit is forced to work harder to proper regulate first floor temperatures. It’s ok to set the thermostat several degrees off from the main floor, but completely turning off may be doing more harm than good. Remember, HVAC systems act as a dehumidifier as well. It’s important to remove the moisture occupants exhaust in to homes with every breath.