Duct Cleaning And Air Filters (1 of 2)

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

I am asked by clients and Realtors all the time - "Is duct cleaning really worth it?"  I had an email contact just yesterday about this very subject.  So I thought a post would be worth while and instructive.

Well, you tell me!  Dust accumulates anywhere it can land.  As it accumulates many things can happen:

1.  It can restrict air flow, making your system's ability to move air less efficient, costing you more money.

2.  It is composed of more than just dust.  I say to my clients that it is full of "living organisms."  You should believe that too.

The little fellow to the right has a life cycle of one to three months.  During that time the female will lay 40-80 eggs.  Adults are very prolific in creating more dust mites! 

Is your return duct a dust mite factory?  Um, YES!  Just as your furniture, carpets, pillows and mattresses are!

How big are they?  The picture on the right is one sitting on something much smaller than the head of a pin, which is 2 millimeters in diameter.  That dust mite is 250 - 300 microns in size.  A micron is one-millionth of a meter.  So this mite to the right is one-quarter or so of a millimeter, and about twenty four times larger than a human red blood cell.

3.  Its accumulation is conducive to the amplification of molds and fungi, which are in your air.  This amplification will continue and eventually infest your HVAC mechanism, and that is a real problem!

All this organism blows around your house.

I see three kinds of return ducts in houses - wood, metal and flexible.  All three can accumulate dust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These can all be cleaned.  You want a couple of things in a duct-cleaning company - how they do it and their good reputation.  The reputation is best acquired by reading customer comments on line.  There are many sites to do this.  Research carefully.

But how do they do it?  You want a company that both brushes and vacuums.  The material needs to be dislodged and acquired.  Their use of HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Accumulation) filters are very, very important.  What kind of filters does the company use?

And, can they introduce a fungicide into the ducts after cleaning?  And, if so, can they introduce it also into the beginnings of the HVAC system?  Molds can accumulate there also, slightly beyond the return duct.

All of this costs more for sure.  But if you and yours suffer from allergies, asthma or other pulmonary circumstances, I highly recommend that you do this.

THE NEXT POST - how to prevent, or at least forestall, dust accumulation in your ducts.  And air filtration!  Be there, or be parallelogram...

My recommendation:  Information is everything.  Ask questions of your local home inspector (or cute thermographer).  They will be happy to help!

(I couldn't resist the "cute" comment - that has a lot of people rattled!  Just another service I offer...)

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Bloggged 15 times:

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  2. THE TRAILBLAZER TEAM - ASHEVILLE Land and Signature Mountain Homes 10/26/2010 10:06 AM
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  8. Linda Sabo 10/27/2010 10:15 AM
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  10. Steve and Jan Bachman 10/28/2010 11:35 AM
  11. Jon Quist 10/29/2010 02:09 AM
  12. Maureen McCabe 10/29/2010 06:28 AM
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dirty return ducts
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Comments 100 New Comment

Show All Comments
Rainmaker
384,765
Robert Schwabe
Orange Park Real Estate
Keller Williams- First Coast Realty

Jay - Just looking at those three ducts you have pictured there. I couldn't imagine how many dust mites there are.

October 28, 2010 10:46 PM
Rainmaker
47,967
Tony Cannon
Real Estate - Oceanside Carlsbad
Bressi Realty Carlsbad

While on the subject of cleaning, if you go into a house that smells like cigarette smoke, how far do you have to go to get rid of it? Can replacing carpet, cleaning blinds and curtains, clean or painting walls and ceilings be enough. Or could it take duct cleaning, light fixture cleaning, repainting, or ?

October 29, 2010 01:17 AM
Rainmaker
156,802
George Bennett
Inactive Principal Broker, GRI
Inactive

Great information in an educational post. I'm better informed now. Thank you.

October 29, 2010 01:54 AM
Rainmaker
318,511
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996
LONG REALTY

Great and timely post. Great photos. Now you've even got me worried about my ductwork.

October 29, 2010 02:05 AM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Robert - for sure they number in the millions.  As they do on carpets and mattresses.  Yummie.

That's a big problem Tony.  I understand it depends on the amount and length of time the people smoked inside.  It requires replacing or painting or cleaning virtually everything though.  There is a coat of nicotine on all surfaces.

You are welcome George.  That is the objective!

Jon - sorry my friend!  I guess it is a worry we can do something about though.

My legal name is Jon, spelled as you do.

October 29, 2010 07:14 AM
Rainmaker
189,378
Sonny Landau
St Louis Home Improvement and Painting Companies

You are 100% correct.  Many companies do really nothing!

What they advertise is not what they are going to do for the money that they advertise.

Thanks for bringing this subject to our attention.

 

Sonny

St Louis Painting

October 29, 2010 07:53 AM
Rainmaker
309,039
David O'Doherty
Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC
Hometowne Realty Clayton East

If I see one more dust mite or bed bug!!! I'm moving to the North Pole!!!! They don't live up there do they? I'd probably get eaten by Polar Bears.

I would definitly get our ducts cleaned!

October 29, 2010 07:54 AM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

You're welcome Sonny!  As to the companies, you have to inspect what you expect.

David - igloos are well insulated and I understand you can get the temperature inside up to 39 degrees F!

October 29, 2010 08:39 AM
Rainmaker
891,596
Michael Setunsky
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA
Michael's Commercial LLC

Jay, new home owners should also consider having their ducts clean. When we bought our home we waited a few years to have the ducts cleaned. To our surprise they pulled out everything from drywall, bread wrappers, nails plus the dust that accumulated over the years. Thanks for the reminder.

October 29, 2010 09:10 AM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

You are right Michael.  All kinds of stuff can be in there.  Even insulation.  People are not very careful during the building process.

October 29, 2010 09:13 AM
Rainmaker
161,677
Christine McInerney
The McInerney Team, Knoxville TN Homes For Sale
The McInerney Team with Realty Executives Associates

I have never had my ducts cleaned but given what I can visably see on when changing the air filters I am sure that I would benefit from a good cleaning.  I have only had 1 client actually get their ducts cleaned and they said that it made a huge difference.

October 29, 2010 10:00 AM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

C&J - that's good to hear!  Our house is 13 years old and I can look into the ducts to see that they are clean.  We haven't had it done yet.

October 29, 2010 10:03 AM
Rainmaker
52,122
Hank Spinnler
Atlanta Home Inspector
Harmony Home Inspection Services of GA

It's worth a check even if it's clean and especially if you have a wall return. I've found the drywall cut-out remaining inside the opening, blocking off the vent. I've also found drywall knives, caulk tubes, bottles, cups and trash inside them.

October 29, 2010 02:27 PM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

And more Hank!  I have found hypodermic needles, panties, condoms, wow, you name it!  And in the sump pump pit also!

October 29, 2010 07:36 PM
Rainmaker
261,430
Wayne B. Pruner
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI
Oregon First

Clean ducts are essential for a healthy indoor environment. Thanks for the tutorial.

November 06, 2010 09:40 PM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

All said they are Wayne.  And few think about it apparently, as I see such dirty duct work virtually every day.

November 07, 2010 06:59 PM
Rainer
43,028
Renée Montgomery
Northern Virginia Real Estate
Century 21 New Millennium

ewww, ewww, ewwww, I hate dust and especially dust mites! I re-blogged your part two!

December 18, 2010 06:41 PM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Wow, thank Renee.  I hate those mites too!  Vacuum a lot!

December 18, 2010 09:56 PM
Rainmaker
125,433
Matt Robinson
Pensacola Real Estate (850) 292-4000
ERA Emerald Coast Realty

Jay, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise.  I can't say that I have clients ask me about duct cleaning very often, but I was certainly interested in the information for my own house.  Thanks again!

July 20, 2011 12:28 PM
Rainmaker
1,218,326
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Wow, Matt.  An oldie but a goodie!  I look at the ducts in every house and more often than not they are really dirty!

July 20, 2011 12:55 PM
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
1,218,326

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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