Dirty ducts are a problem that many homeowners are likely to overlook since their ducts are always hidden behind their walls. Unfortunately, dust and mold buildup in ductwork can decrease indoor air quality and cause respiratory problems and allergy flare-ups to occur more frequently. Here are three signs that you should consider having your air ducts cleaned.
Dust Buildup on Return Vents
Your home should have cold-air return vents in every room that circulate air back to the blower motor when your furnace or air conditioner is running. In systems that are in need of duct cleaning, the inside of the return vent registers will often be coated with a thick layer of dust. Even if you don't see any dust on the outside of the return registers, you should remove them and inspect the backs for dust.
Visible Mold and Dust Under Vent Registers
The dark and often damp interiors of your ducts create the perfect environment for mold and mildew to flourish. If you see mold beneath your vent registers it is a clear sign that you should have your ducts cleaned. Any mold or dust that is visible beneath your vents is likely to reflect the state of the rest of the ductwork throughout your house.
For more information, consider contacting companies like Custom Comfort.
Dust Inside the Furnace
When your ducts are dirty, the inside of your furnace is likely to get dirty also. Dust buildup inside a furnace can damage it by clogging up moving parts and causing overheating. Regular duct cleaning is, therefore, an essential maintenance step to increase the chances that your furnace will last for its average life expectancy of 15 years.
To determine if your furnace is collecting dust from dirty ducts, you can remove the side panel that covers the blower motor compartment. The more dust you see coating the blower motor and the walls of the furnace, the dirtier your ducts are. It is not sufficient maintenance to manually clean the dust out of the furnace, as it will simply collect again in a relatively short amount of time. Full system cleaning of both the furnace and ductwork is required to solve this problem.
Getting your ducts cleaned can both improve indoor air quality and make your furnace last longer. Fortunately, it can take years for dust and mold to reach problem levels, so duct cleaning is an infrequent maintenance step. If your home does not currently have any of these symptoms of extremely dirty ducts, having your ducts cleaned every three to five years is sufficient for clean air and a healthy HVAC system.