One of the common questions that we get as specialists for HVAC systems in Manitoba, is how often should we get our ducts cleaned? This question is unique to each home. So many variables are at play such as where you live, how often you open your windows, do you have pets and many others.
Signs that you may be a good candidate to have your ducts cleaned:
- Some obvious signs are dust build up on or around the vents. Sometimes you will see this around your supply air vents and on the diffuser fins, but the vents that get really dirty are the return air duct and grills. The reason is that these vents are not as high pressure airflow which allows for more accumulation of dust and debris.
- Another sign which is obvious if you are diligent at replacing your furnace filter, is to pay attention to how often it needs replacing. Obviously, the better the filter you use the more often it will need to be replaced, and the cleaner the air in your home will be. But, if you’re finding it is needing attention more frequently, this is a good sign your ducts need a cleaning.
- A lot of times, dust will build up on the internal components of your furnace and can cause some serious issues if not attended to with regular maintenance. If you are experiencing smells from your HVAC system it could be a build up of dust on your evaporator coil which is your air conditioner coil which is located right above your furnace. The A/C coil gets cold and condenses dust sticks to it and, as it builds up, you can sometimes get a ‘wet dog’ smell. When the dust collects on the furnaces’ heat exchanger as well as the blower motor, this can produce a burning smell and sometimes even smoke!
- If you are experiencing a depreciation in air flow from what you’re used to for your home, this is also an indication that dust could be causing issues. When it plugs filters, plugs coils and builds up inside your ductwork, it definitely restricts air flow. But a very common issue is how it sticks to the fan blades on your furnace blower. The blower motor for your furnace sits inside a cage which spins to scoop air and push it through your vents. This cage is often referred to simply as a”squirrel cage”. Each of these blades can build up with dust, so much so, that it will inhibit the scooping of the air which has an ill effect on many other things for your HVAC system. It can now overheat. This causes undue metal fatigue with the excess contracting and expansion of the metal of your heat exchanger. This in turn lowers the longevity of your system. The dust also throws the ‘balancing’ of your squirrel cage off. Every wheel that spins fast must run true. If not, there will be a wobble which causes bearings in your motor to wear fast and premature. These add up to repairs which are a lot more expensive than regular maintenance and duct cleanings which also have you breathing cleaner air in your home. This brings us to our final indicator that a duct cleaning may be in order.
- Most people often overlook how much of an effect their homes HVAC system has on their own health. Are you coughing, sneezing, stuffing up a lot? Do your eyes or skin often get irritated while in your own home?
Your HVAC system is there to, ideally, maintain a comfortable temperature year round, but it is responsible, like it or not, for one of the most important qualities in your home which is air quality! The air you breathe is so much more important than temperature, yet we often suggest to ourselves that the quality of the air is a luxury.
A furnace comes with a filter, usually a 1” slab type, and the reason for that is to ensure no debris gets sucked into the blower wheel. Increasing the quality of that air filter is completely up to the home owner and has everything to do with the importance of air quality you desire for your home and its inhabitants.
Good filters will have a MERV rating which will identify that filters ability to stop dust and airborne contaminants at the same time not restricting the airflow to the furnace and allowing it to maintain a safe and desirable amount of air through the vents. The furnace fan blows air to every room in the home, unlike the room air purifiers some purchase which only does a small area. The fan stirs up the dust in your vents and is able to filter all of it. A good filter can take out smells with charcoal, mold spores and viruses etc with U.V lights and yes, dust and airborne contaminants with HEPA filtration.