Air Quality Cleaning floor vent

Published on April 13th, 2013 | by Henri


Do heating ducts need cleaning?

Q.  Our house was built in June 1999. It has forced hot air heating using natural gas. We do not have air conditioning.

We have 2 cats, no smokers in the house. I use Filtrete maximum allergen filters. They are supposed to be good for 3 months but this year they do not last as long. After 1 month they are dark and dirty.

I have Vermont Gas come out every year to inspect our system and it always passes with flying colors but this year with the filters getting dirty sooner, the technician suggested getting our ducts cleaned. Does that sound like the thing to do? How often should duct work be cleaned? Anything we should consider as we look for someone to do the job?

Thank you for your time and help.

A.    There is no standard rule about when to have ducts cleaned, and yours may or may not need it. It really depends on the effectiveness of the filters you use and how often you replace them.

It certainly would not hurt to have your ducts cleaned by specialists, but it may be an expense you do not have to undertake.

Try this to see if the filters are as effective as they are touted to be: Cut pieces of gauze material and place them under the register covers. If they come out dirty, the filters are not that effective and your ducts may benefit from a professional cleaning. If the gauze remains relatively clean after several days, the filters seem to be catching most of the dust and dander floating in the air, and you may not need to go to the expense of having your ducts cleaned.

You may also be able to look inside some of the ducts with a mirror and a flashlight to see if there is a significant amount of dirt at the last joint of the duct run to which the final elbow is attached.

You may also want to consider an electronic filter, which you will need to wash as often as needed. These filters are touted to remove from 95 to 99 percent of particles that pass through them by electrically charging them. They are less restrictive than replaceable filters  and, thus, do not adversely affect the functioning or efficiency of the furnace.

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