Six Warning Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning or Replacement

Most people give little thought to their HVAC system’s ductwork until something has gone horribly (and expensively) wrong with it. This is a huge mistake as a little preventative air duct maintenance can go a long way toward keeping your system running efficiently and preserving the indoor air quality of your home or business.

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Let’s face it. Here in Tampa, air conditioning is something you just can’t live without. With average highs in the low-to-mid 90s in the summer and an average daily humidity of around 74 percent, life in Tampa becomes quickly unbearable without a properly functioning air conditioning unit.

Your air ducts are important infrastructure for your HVAC system. Your ducts provide a conduit for the cool or heated air produced by your HVAC system to flow into the various rooms of your home to achieve your desired temperature. When ducts are obstructed or have leaks, it can cause your system to lose efficiency, running up your energy bill and increasing wear and tear on your HVAC unit.

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Air conditioning repair experts recommend duct cleaning every few years to dislodge dirt and other debris in the ducts. If your ducts haven’t been cleaned in a while, here are a few signs that cleaning is needed immediately.

Warning Signs Your Ducts Need Cleaning

  • Unexplained spikes in your energy bills – If your bills are climbing and there’s no good explanation for the hike, such as increased usage or mechanical problems with your unit, you may have clogs or leaks in your ducts that are reducing the system’s efficiency. Air conditioning repair services can inspect your ducts to see if this is the problem and take steps to clean and seal your ducts as needed.
  • Signs of rodent or insect infestation – If you see or smell evidence that rodents or insects may be living in your ducts, it’s definitely time to have your ducts cleaned. Debris from these infestations can cause damage to your HVAC system, reducing its efficiency. Over time, the smell from droppings and other debris can also become highly unpleasant. Also, having contaminants from rodent or insect droppings and shells and husks from insects circulating through the air that you and your guests breathe can cause sickness. A rodent or insect infestation in your ducts represents a big health threat, and one you should deal with immediately.
  • Dirt and debris around your vents – If you’re noticing dirt and debris around your vents, there’s a very good chance that your ducts have developed blockages or have a high amount of contaminants circulating through the system. High levels of dirt and debris circulating through your system can exacerbate allergies and other respiratory problems, so it’s well worth your while to have your ducts cleaned.
  • Unexplained respiratory problems – If you or members of your family are having unexplained allergy, sinus, asthma, or other respiratory problems, excessive dirt and debris circulating through your ducts may be the problem. Air cycles through your home about seven times a day, and if your ducts have high levels of dirt and debris, it can have a big impact on indoor air quality. If sneezing and wheezing have become a problem in your home, and if it’s been years since your last duct cleaning, you may want to call an air conditioning maintenance company out to inspect your ducts and clean them.
  • Visible mold growth – Because of Tampa’s humid climate, mold growth is a huge problem here. Mold exposure in homes has been linked to many health issues, some of them very serious. Mold can often cause respiratory issues, eye irritation, throat irritation, and even skin irritation. People with compromised immune systems or chronic lung illnesses may develop serious infections if exposed to mold.

If you see mold growing around your vents or inside your ducts, do not hesitate to call an air conditioning repair company to perform an inspection and cleaning of your ducts. Mold is more prevalent in Florida than most parts of the country, so homeowners must be constantly vigilant against this serious health threat. Catching mold infestations early before they can spread throughout the home and become difficult to eradicate can help reduce the cost of remedying this problem.

  • Dusty air filters or air return grilles – If your recently installed air filter is covered in dust, chances are that your ducts are clogged and need cleaning. Return air grilles with thick, fuzzy coatings of dust are also indicators of a duct problem.

How Ducts Are Cleaned

Professional duct cleaning services can provide a thorough cleaning far beyond what the average homeowner can do on his or her own. Air conditioner maintenance service technicians have specialized tools and training that allow them to remove nearly all dust and contaminants from duct work, even in the most hard-to-reach places.

When duct cleaning services visit your home, they’ll often inspect the unit and ducts. Technicians will use small cameras to check the more inaccessible areas of the ducts. After inspection, technicians will use specialized brushes and tools to loosen debris within your ducts.

Next, they will use a vacuum to remove dirt and debris from the ducts. They will also likely clean the cooling coils and the blower unit. Your technician may also decontaminate your ducts with germ and odor-killing compounds. In addition to cleaning the ducts and other parts of your unit, your technician will also clean grilles and vents.

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If your technicians detect leaks in your ducts, they may offer to seal these leaks. It’s well worth your while to have leaks sealed, as the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through your home is lost through leaks in your duct work. A properly sealed duct system can reduce air loss, thus reducing the amount of work your HVAC system must do to maintain comfortable temperatures in your home.

Taking care of your ducts can reduce your power bills and increase the longevity of your HVAC system by reducing its workload. As new HVAC systems can cost thousands of dollars to install, keeping your system running efficiently for as long as possible can save you lots of money. Regular cleaning of your HVAC ducts can also greatly benefit the indoor air quality in your home or place of business.

Poor indoor air quality is being increasingly linked to a variety of illnesses, and modern home design has made maintaining good indoor air quality difficult because new homes are so tightly sealed for energy efficiency purposes. Cleaning your ducts can help keep mold and contaminants from constantly recirculating through your home and giving rise to respiratory and other illnesses.

When hiring a company to perform air duct cleaning services, make sure you hire a professional company with the tools, training, and experience to do the job correctly. Check online reviews and ask your friends and neighbors who they use for air conditioner service. Talk to prospective service providers about their professional credentials and experience. Also, don’t be afraid to ask prospective providers for references.

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Air Rescue is a Tampa-based air conditioning repair and maintenance company. In business since 1946, Air Rescue has experienced staff and a well-earned reputation for excellence. Air Rescue also is committed to staying abreast of the latest changes to the HVAC industry—the company’s technicians regularly train with the newest HVAC technologies. The company has several affordable maintenance options available to customers, including a club membership program that provides discounts on important repair and maintenance services.