Duct cleaning

tinanSeptember 21, 2012

We have a 2 bedroom townhouse in California, built in 1980. The original Whirlpool gas furnace was still in here when we bought the place, not in good shape at all of course (scary), and we just had a new Bryant put in.

I don't know if the ducts have ever been cleaned in this house, and I've never had to have it done before - previous homes did not have forced air. I've read so many things about it and heard so many different opinions.

It comes down to the fact that I have allergies, the house is 30 years old and at one time had popcorn ceilings (no asbestos thankfully) that were removed so some construction has gone on. When we purchased the home 2 of the bathroom exhaust fans didn't work nor did the kitchen exhaust fan - I replaced the inner blowers all myself and what was inside those fan housings was awfully disgusting. One bathroom fan in the powder room (not even exposed to moisture/no shower) looked like an alien life form growing in there.

So, what are the feelings here on having ductwork cleaned, is it worth the money? We are on a budget and of course just spent lots on replacing the furnace etc so I don't want to waste our money but if cleaning is a worthwhile practice I would prefer to do it before we start using the heat.

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saltidawg

Read down the Forum pages - lots of prior threads on this subject.

To see what the EPA says, GOTO the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: EPA On Duct Cleaning

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 12:01PM
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tinan

I have read the EPA page, however I don't consider them experts on HVAC and allergies, the EPA is there to prevent pollution of our air and water. Dust and allergens doesn't really fall under pollution and may not be life threatening or environmental issue but it is surely a quality of life issue.

I think I gave the details of our situation which qualify for the EPA's criteria of recommending cleaning - there probably are or were rodents and insects in our walls and there was definitely moldy dusty life forms growing in the bathroom exhaust fans so I am sure worse is in the HVAC ducts. As I said there has been at some point major dust due to popcorn ceiling removal.

So my question is for those people who have had it done and have allergies, do you notice a difference?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 12:27PM
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ionized_gw

The EPA does a lot of things in addition to the most stereotyped projects at superfund sites, protecting surface and ground water, protecting air,.... They are responsible for testing and registering disinfectants, for example. There are HVAC experts working there and there are consultants. Their indoor air quality projects fall obviously fall under this part of their mission statement:

"all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work"

Productin of the page cited that you read can be justified by this from their mission statement:

"all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks"

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 1:58PM
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saltidawg

I have no idea what the OP's agenda is... lol

Sounds like he knows the answer and apparently has not bothered to look at the many, many earlier threads in this forum on this subject.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:16PM
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tinan

Um, yes I did a search and read some of the threads however you may have noticed that the search function is not very specific and you end up getting 20 pages of stuff that is unrelated.

And yes I realize the EPA does lots of things - but there is a difference between being protected against things that might kill me such as radon etc and things that may cause me to sneeze and be unhappy.

My "Agenda" is to get feedback from people who actually have experience with this process. If you want to look up my past posts on other forums and search for some kind of hidden agenda, feel free to do so.

Never mind, I asked a question in this forum once several months ago and received similar completely unhelpful replies. I guess I should have learned my lesson then - I won't bother returning here.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 3:47PM
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saltidawg

Makes one wonder why he gets that reaction. lol

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 4:41PM
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ionized_gw

No need to get snarky. The point is that the EPA is expert on indoor air quality including things that make you sneeze and chronically ill. Their advice on duct cleaning is sound judging from my quick look.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 5:31PM
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tinan

First of all, I am only getting upset because you are accusing me of having ulterior motives in asking a simple question and that answering my question is not worth your time. (BTW I am not a "he" as you may guess from my login name).

Secondly, I stated several times that I HAVE read the EPA guidelines and that they seem to indicate that YES I should consider getting my ducts cleaned due to the likely presence of construction dust and debris (popcorn ceiling removal).

But before I go ahead and spend money on this, I was hoping to get feedback from anyone who has actual experience with the process as a customer and would like to provide their opinion on whether or not you felt it was worth the money, please post if you have used duct cleaning services and whether you felt there was an impact on your allergies.

If you only want to tell me again and again to use the search function or read the EPA website, please refrain.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 9:15PM
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saltidawg

"If you only want to tell me again and again to use the search function or read the EPA website, please refrain."

WTF?

You also said, "Never mind, I asked a question in this forum once several months ago and received similar completely unhelpful replies. I guess I should have learned my lesson then - I won't bother returning here."

You need to think about why you keep getting this reaction. Do you think it might involve your nastiness in your replies. You asked a question, and I gave you a polit reply suggesting this has been discussed at length here. I just did search and found lots of info.

I also pointed out the EPA's guidance... not making a recommendation myself.

Your response, "I have read the EPA page, however I don't consider them experts on HVAC and allergies..."

After saying you wouldn't, why did you renege and come back with more aggression?

lol

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:19AM
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energy_rater_la

personally I think duct cleaning is a joke.

but even if you clean ducts and don't address where
they leak to keep them clean the duct cleaning
company will have a job again.

if you have flex duct you should be very
careful as duct cleaning can distroy the inner
liner. with hard pipe ducts it can cause the
joints & 90's to disconnect.

I'm not a customer, but inspect, test & have
repaired & installed many duct systems.

if ducts, supply boxes, plenum connections,
equipment connections & return air are sealed
nothing is getting into the ducts to be cleaned.
then adding a 4" media filter completes the system.
mastics used to seal, not duct or foil tapes.

I'd never guessed you were a lady by your
user name, as I'm sure you'd never guess that
I am also, by my user name.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:15PM
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saltidawg

energy rater la,

You gave similar sound advice to a similar post in July in the first thread returned under a search of " duct cleaning "

Here is a link that might be useful: Similar Good advice

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:44PM
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brickeyee

OP can go and waster her money as she wishes.

If the normal are flowing though the ducts does not blow the stuff out, it is not going to suddenly start.

Duct cleaning is mainly a way to lighten your wallet.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 2:01PM
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energy_rater_la

saltidawg..
one of these day's I'll get smart & save
documents where I can just cut & paste..
why not to foam spray walls
ICAT not IC recessed cans
Mastic not duct tape
SHGC & Ufactor/nfrc window stickers
and why not to use pav's

I really should do that!
hate to see homeowners getting taken
for a ride, when just unbiased information
can tell them the whole picture.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 2:43PM
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saltidawg

energy rater la,

I used to exhibit and breed (English) Bulldogs. Actually was quite successful at producing healthy, well dispositioned dogs of good conformation. I had a whole file of canned responses that I could either cut and paste or re-send in response to questions asked of me.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 3:14PM
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countryboymo

Wow salti your registered? Sorry I just had to..

Duct cleaning leads to duct re-sealing cause usually they do more knocking stuff loose and causing leaks than cleaning.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:53PM
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energy_rater_la

LOL!@ countyboymo.

Saltidawg..is that where your user name comes
from? I've always wondered.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 9:04PM
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saltidawg

energy rater la,

I am a Retired Navy Submariner. My Kennel's name was "SaltiDawg" as in AKC Champion Fidelis SaltiDawg's Lil Sister ... aka LARI, my first Champion.

24 Years in the Navy... enlisted, officer, retired.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 9:31PM
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tinan

We don't have flex duct it is the usual metal ducts built in 1980. How would vacuuming them knock things loose?

"Tina N"

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:36PM
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alan_s_thefirst

If they were rough enough with the ducts, they could come loose. It's not too likely if they're reasonably careful. Ducts should be screwed and taped together, or screw + Mastic.

I got mine done, because the house was built in the mid-'80s. I figured it was time.

Our dog is technically a non-shedder, but loses hair like all of us, all the time. I put pre-filters on my returns, but they weren't well sealed (I've fixed that) and there was lots of fluff in there.

Since the ducts were cleaned, we're not getting the hot dust smell when the furnace comes on.... so I'd say yes, clean them periodically.

Mine probably had construction dust in them, too.

I'd love to go back in time, sneak onto the jobsite, and tape them with foil tape instead of the 'real' duct tape they used at the time, where the ductwork is visible, I can see the tape hanging off.

Good news is, the heat ducts aren't going to get a lot of dust in them from lack of tape, since they're pressurised, but they become less efficient.

The returns, on the other hand, are like vacuum cleaners, so you want them sealed as well as possible.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:54PM
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ionized_gw

If allergies are the problem to be solved, you should consider if what is to be removed from ducts is what you are allergic to as part of the deliberation.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 11:10AM
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energy_rater_la

hard pipe ducting is leaky by its very construction.
each long seam, each 90degree ell has joints that leak
air.
rather than duct cleaning..or after duct cleaning
if you want to spend your money on that..mastic
seal ducts.
for instance if your system is a 5 ton, then you
have 2000 cubic feet per minute of air that can be
delivered. the leaks in the ducts keeps the full
amount of air from being delivered.
depending upon where the duct leaks are located,
these leaks can also allow dirt to be drawn into
the ducts. (duct system includes return air also)

in existing homes..which I test every week for house
leakage and duct leakage, 30% duct leakage is not
uncommon. in existing homes it can be much higher.
you pay every month to condition your house, much
of that conditioned air never makes it into
the living spaces.

losing a half. three quaters or a ton of this
air due to duct leakage makes a difference in comfort
affordability & health of people in the house.

the combination of house leakage and duct leakage
contributes greatly to indoor air quality.

just a little thing like sealing supply boxes
where the penetrate into the house can make a difference.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 11:55AM
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tinan

Our air return is a kind of joke - the furnace is in a closet type thing on a raised platform (vented to roof) and the air return comes in through the bottom through what is essentially a sectioned off crawl space. It's boarded up but not airtight, and there is a bare concrete floor under there. It also looks filthy and I tried to vacuum out what I could reach with my own vacuum but I couldn't reach in there very effectively.

In California our temperature rarely get down below 40F at night in the winter, and we like to sleep cold anyway so efficiency of the heating is not a big concern for us. THat's why we only bought an 80% efficiency furnace in our climate the pay off tim for a 90% or higher furnace is over 40 years. So I don't think sealing the ducts would be worth our money since we don't heat the house to much of a temperature differential anyway - just take the chill off.

I'm allergic to a lot of stuff and have allergy triggered asthma which means any respiratory irritants/particles can potentially cause me breathing problems.

I think I will go ahead with this, read a lot of reviews on yelp and chose a company that does HVAC installs as well as cleaning, and has all 5 star reviews - and no reports of breaking anyone's ductwork.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 12:11PM
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weedmeister

T: the folks on this forum will be must less inclined to answer from a point of view of allergy reduction and much more inclined to respond from a heating/cooling efficiency improvement point of view.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 4:13PM
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energy_rater_la

one often improves the other.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 4:21PM
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saltidawg

weedmeister,

The first response provided a link to the EPA's position on duct cleaning and pointed out that there were numerous recent threads in this forum on this subject.

The OP rejected the EPA advice as the OP didn't consider them experts on HVAC and allergies. Also the OP couldn't use the search engine as it returned too much info or similar.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 7:04PM
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tinan

Since there is no allergy forum, this seemed to be the most appropriate!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 1:19PM
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energy_rater_la

there is an indoor air quality forum at
hvac-talk.com

sealing ducts & return makes a difference
in voc's entering the house.
leakage at supply boxs allows insulation
particles to enter, as does return air leakage.
if you have fiberglass then fg particles circulate
if you have cellulose then you are circulating
& breathing borate treated newspaper particles.

both effect breathing.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 4:54PM
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tinan

By the way, here is a photo of the bathroom exhaust fan in the powder room (no extra moisture/shower) that I replaced after we moved in!

This is one of the signs that made me wonder what might be lurking in the HVAC ducts.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:36AM
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saltidawg

Can you not let this go. You've decided that you are getting your ducts cleaned.

Go for it - you've received tons of advice here, yet you keep stirring the pot.

You win.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:10PM
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