Ducts play a critical role in the comfort of your home as well as the quality of the air you and your family breathe. A duct system consists of a network of tubing that connects to your HVAC unit and delivers warm or cold air throughout your home. Ducts also suck the air out of the room and return it the HVAC unit for circulation. Over time, your ductwork can accumulate a wide variety of debris such as dust, pet dander, flakes of human skin, hair and insect and rodent excrement. Eventually, this can clog the ducts and reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system. Even worse, dirty ducts can promote the growth of foreign growths, mildew and other forms of bacteria that are pushed back into the rooms when the heat or air conditioning kicks on. While your unit's filtration system captures much of the debris and prevents its circulation, a significant amount will infiltrate your home and contaminate the air that you breathe. What Are the Signs that You Need Residential Duct Cleaning? If the thought of breathing germ-filled air is enough to keep you awake at night, then you recognize the importance of keeping your ductwork clean. How do you know for sure when the time has arrived? The following tips can help you determine if your ducts are due for a good cleaning: Perform a quick visual inspection: Perhaps the most obvious indicator of dirty ducts is how they look. Open one of the vent covers and see if it is coated with dust and debris. Use a flashlight so that you can see deeper into the ductwork for signs of mold or rodent excrement.Check what happens when your HVAC system turns on:Listen for the "whooshing" sound that indicates the activation of your heating and cooling unit. If your ducts are dirty, you will likely notice a cloud of dust caused by expelled air pushing it into the room.Look for a dirty filter: Many homeowners are guilty of not changing the HVAC unit's filter regularly. A dirty or clogged filter will prevent your heating and cooling system from working efficiently, which will also push the debris into your ductwork.Determine if you notice poor air flow: Does it seem that your HVAC unit isn't expelling air as forcefully as it used to? It's possible that obstructions within the ductwork are impeding the air flow.Be aware of allergy symptoms: If you or members of your household are coughing, sneezing or wheezing for no apparent reason, it could be a sign that allergens are clogging your ductwork. Check how long it has been since the last duct cleaning in your home. It is recommended that you have your home ducts cleaned every 7 years in order to keep these allergy particles at bay. When Is It Time For a Professional Ductwork Inspection? Even if you can't detect visible signs of dirty ducts or are not experiencing any ill effects, it doesn't necessarily mean that your ductwork is as clean as it should be. Debris can lurk deep within the network of tubing, and while it may not be an issue now, it's probably only a matter of time until it begins to impact your home's air quality. A thorough inspection by a professional residential duct cleaning contractor is the best way to determine the health of your duct system. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends regular assessments based on each type of system component. For example, an inspection of the air handler should occur annually, while the supply and return ductwork should undergo a biennial assessment. The inspection should also include an evaluation of the HVAC unit. Overview of the Residential Duct Cleaning Process If an inspection indicates the need for duct cleaning services, you should hire an experienced contractor for the task. While the process can vary depending on factors such as the age and layout of a home, level of cleanliness and type of equipment used by the contractor, the general steps include: Testing and cleaning of the HVAC unit: The contractor will examine the heating and cooling unit and conduct inspections on the system to ensure that it is functioning correctly. Next, the contractor will disconnect the system's power source and vacuum the interior surfaces with a professional grade HEPA filtration system. Lastly, the contractor will clean the cooling coils and blower unit.Cleaning of the supply and return grills and ducts: The contractor will remove the ducts' grills\/registers and wash them thoroughly. They will then use specialized equipment to clean the entire span of tubing.Decontamination and deodorization: Next, your contractor will use decontamination and deodorizing agents to sanitize the ductwork and remove unpleasant odors.Filter installation: The final step of the residential duct cleaning process entails the installation of electrostatic filters and additional odor control products as needed. This is a great time to upgrade your HVAC system with a higher-level filtration system in order to protect your newly cleaned ducts. The contractor will then replace the grills\/registers. How Can You Keep Your Air Ducts Clean? Implementing the following self-maintenance steps can help keep your ducts clean and provide the best possible air quality in your home: Maintain your HVAC unit: Change the filter in your HVAC system according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Regular cleaning will limit the accumulation of dirt and debris within your ductwork. In addition, monthly filter check and changes when needed are an important part of HVAC upkeep.Keep a dust-free home: Dust can build up on surfaces and eventually end up inside your ductwork. Regularly vacuuming floors and wiping down surfaces such as end tables, shelves and countertops can help keep dust under control.Avoid leaving anything for the mice: Food crumbs attract rodents, which means you'll likely have excrement inside your ductwork. Exercising appropriate pest control measures \u2014 especially keeping all food out of reach \u2014 can help keep your ducts clean.Clean the registers and grills: Although you probably don't have the right equipment to conduct a complete ductwork cleaning, you can remove the vent covers and clean them yourself.Abstain from smoking indoors: Cigarette smoke can become trapped inside your ductwork and blown back inside your house by the HVAC unit. Try to smoke outside as much as possible, and keep other debris away from the vent system in your home. Haller Duct Cleaning Can Prevent Dirty Ductwork in Your Home Haller Enterprises offers profession duct cleaning services to homeowners in Central PA and beyond. Regular Haller duct cleaning will improve the air quality in your home and enhance the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.