A trending topic in home renovation/restoration is 'DIY' or Do-It-Yourself guides. Whether it is the state of the economy, or lack of resources available to find trustworthy, licensed-technicians, homeowners are looking for every opportunity to 'Do-It-Themselves'.
Before attempting DIY duct cleaning, know what your ducts are made of:
Most ductwork in homes is made up of one or more of these three materials: Duct Board, Metal Duct, and Flex Duct:
- If your home has Duct Board, then it contains fiberglass which can be damaged if cleaned with a wet sponge (as some DIY Duct Cleaning methods suggest).
- Metal ducting that is lined on the inside for insulation value allows for dust and particles to be trapped in the exposed part of the insulation. This material has restricted air flow, which ultimately increases the chances of mold or mildew growth - A wet sponge will only feed existing mold spores in ducts.
- Flex duct is easily damaged, which is why it frequently has to be replaced. Agitating flex duct with a rotary brush (such as the extension on your vacuum cleaner) could rip it beyond repair. You have to be extremely careful while working flex duct.
A common tip amongst DIY Duct Cleaning How-To's says to 'put your longest hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment on the end of it, and vacuum as much of the inner ductwork as you can reach. Follow up by scrubbing with a damp sponge.' This error can cause an expensive repair: If you have fiberglass duct board, flex duct, or insulation on the interior of the duct, this method will rip and puncture your home's ductwork. Also, by wiping the inside of ducts with a wet sponge, trapped moisture can be absorbed in your ducts. This will harvest a perfect environment for mold growth.
Guidelines from NADCA Standards:
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association has outlined a set of guidelines that Certified HVAC technicians/duct cleaning services must follow:
"All vacuum units should be attached to a collection device for safe containment prior to disposal. Any vacuum collection device which exhausts indoors must be HEPA filtered.
A vacuum collection device alone will not get an HVAC system clean. The use of methods and tools designed to agitate debris adhered to the surfaces within the system, in conjunction with the use of the vacuum collection device(s), is required to clean HVAC systems."
There are some things you should Do-Yourself to keep your ducts clean, and your HVAC running efficiently. Change your filters once each season. Buy good quality filters that keep out dust and allergens. Also, unscrew the grates on the vents and remove any dirt/build-up.
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