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Air Duct Awareness

The Federal Government has declared indoor air quality the number #1 health hazard in America. As awareness of the importance of indoor air pollution grows, more and more people are looking at air duct cleaning as a way to solve indoor air quality problems.

Because this is a relatively new industry, air duct cleaning is the subject of much confusion. In fact, people have so many misconceptions about air duct cleaning and its health benefits, we decided to offer this consumer education message so when you select an air duct cleaning company, you can make an informed intelligent decision.

Below, we’ll share with you six costly misconceptions about air duct cleaning. Then, we’ll also give you seven questions you should ask an air duct cleaning company before you invite them into your home.

Misconception #1: The air inside your home is less polluted than the air outdoors.

Indoor air pollution, in homes as well as commercial buildings, is being recognized nationally as a serious health problem and has become a subject of much concern. Scientific studies have found that the air quality inside your home can be seriously worse than air pollution outside.

Worse yet, the average person spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors; therefore, the risks to your health may be greater, unless preventive measures are taken.

As a precaution, the American Lung Association (ALA) recommends regular cleaning and disinfecting of all ventilating, heating, and cooling systems. If you or your family has allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems – one major source of your problem could be the pollutants found in your heating, ventilating, or air conditioning systems.

Misconception #2: Dust is the primary allergen to be concerned about in your home’s air ducts.

The air ducts extending from heating, cooling and ventilation systems in your home can quickly become contaminated with pollen, dust, mold, fungus, spores, bacteria and other debris if not properly installed and maintained. Heating, ventilation and cooling air supply ducts are typically a sealed system. However, they can become a potential source of not only dust, but microbe contamination.

The type of duct work you have in your home, the way the ducts are sealed, the filtration system, and external contaminates can affect the air quality of your home’s duct work. A major source for indoor air pollution can be the internal, acoustical man-made insulation or duct liner that’s sometimes installed for noise control.

Dust and debris that circulates in your heating and cooling system can, over time, accumulate on the insulating duct liner. Though some feel that the accumulation of dust is inevitable problem and not that big of deal, the dust in your air ducts can quickly become a reservoir for pollution if sufficient moisture is available.

If water leaks into your duct work or a condensation of water vapor forms due to temperature changes throughout the day and evening, fungal and bacterial spores can germinate, rapidly multiply, then migrate throughout your duct work as the air supply circulates. Even if your duct work doesn’t have internal insulation, studies show that the combination of dust and moisture consistently leads to bacterial growth.

At Atlas Chimney, we can perform a thorough inspection to find out if your air ducts might be a source of indoor air pollution in your home. Then, we’ll give you a report of conditions, along with our proposed cleaning plan.

Misconception #3: One method of air duct cleaning is as good as another.

Just vacuuming alone will not get an HVAC system clean, and failure to properly clean any component of a contaminated system can result in re-contamination, negating the benefits of having your system cleaned at all.

Thorough air duct cleaning involves cleaning every single heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system component, including ducts, air terminals (supply and return), heat exchangers (heating and cooling coils), drain pans, fan motors and housings, system filters, and the air handling unit housing. In addition, specially designed tools are also needed to agitate debris adhered to the surfaces within your home’s duct work.

The most effective method to eliminate all contaminants from your duct work is called source removal. This method is a two step process:

  • First, while a commercial grade HEPA-filtered air vacuum is drawing air out of your home’s HVAC system, tools such as mechanical brushes, air whips, skipper balls, and other devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge dirt, debris and other contaminants. Once dislodged, the contaminants can then be pulled through the ducts into the powerful vacuum system.
  • Second, the entire HVAC system is sprayed with a microbial spray that kills dust mites, bacteria and other harmful microbes.

It’s important to make sure that the cleaning method suggested by your air duct cleaning company is capable of removing foreign material to the levels specified by NADCA standards.

Misconception #4: You can tell if your air ducts need cleaning just by inspecting them visually.

Not true. A visual inspection usually only lets you see the debris that’s accumulated at the register or vent, not 10 to 20 feet inside your duct work. Make sure that the company you choose performs a video inspection of your entire system. You might be shocked to see just how dirty the air that’s traveling through your ducts actually is.

After cleaning, for quality assurance, make sure that the company you choose performs another video inspection to make sure all debris is removed. At Atlas Chimney, we’ll happily provide before and after video inspections so you’ll know you got what you paid for.

Misconception #5: The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.

Not always. Avoid advertisements for “$99 whole house specials” and other sales gimmicks used by “blow-and-go” cleaning companies. Some companies charge a small fee then do a very poor cleaning job. These companies may also try to persuade you that you need other services, or even perform services without your permission then try to bill you for extra charges.

Typically, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the cost for air duct cleaning services ranges from $600 to $12,000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, climatic region, level of contamination, and type of duct material.

At Atlas, we’ll perform a thorough system inspection then give you a written quote detailing what services we’ll perform so there are no surprises.

Misconception #6: You don’t need to get your air ducts cleaned on a regular basis.

Many of the same contaminants that are found on your carpets and upholstery end up in your air ducts. If you see dirt, dust or other pollutants accumulating on your carpeting, draperies or sofa, you wouldn’t hesitate getting these items cleaned, would you? So why ignore your duct work?

Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t use good common sense, especially if anyone in your family suffer from allergies, asthma or other breathing related problems. If you’re concerned that your duct work may be contaminated, call in a professional cleaning company like Atlas Chimney. We can inspect your duct work free of charge, with no obligation. If our services are needed, we’ll then provide you with a written estimate.

The Seven Questions To Ask Your Air Duct Cleaner

Do you know how to tell the difference between a qualified air duct cleaner and a “blow and go” scam artist? Before you choose a cleaning company, be sure to ask these seven questions and listen carefully to the answers:

  1. Is your company a member in good standing of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)?
  2. Is your company certified by NADCA to perform HVAC system cleaning?
  3. How many years of experience do you have cleaning air ducts?
  4. Can you provide proof that your company is properly licensed and insured?
  5. Are you going to visually inspect all of the air ducts and related system components and use source removal to clean the systems?
  6. Do you use HEPA-filtered system vacuuming?
  7. Can you provide references?

If you have other questions or would like to schedule an inspection of your air ducts, we invite you to give us a call at 512-702-7415. Our trained customer service staff would be happy to assist you!


Get even more information on our FAQs page, another part of our commitment to consumer awareness.

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