When it comes to indoor air quality, one question typically pops into homeowners’ minds. Are my ducts clean? Almost without exception, a common HVAC system is pumping hot or cool air into the home all year round. It’s no secret – dirty ductwork can lead to dirt, dust or allergens clinging to this forced air and create big problems when it comes to the overall air quality within the home. So, how do we fix this?
It’s easy to jump to a quick conclusion and just decide to bring in a cleaning crew to take care of dirty ducts. While having ducts cleaned is an obvious and necessary solution, it may only be a temporary fix. Ideally, ducts are completely sealed systems. Properly sealed and functioning ducts should be enough to keep dirt, dust or worse from entering your heating and cooling system. Ducts that require regular cleaning are likely in need of repair or replacement in order to create a fully sealed system.
Leaks in the ducts are a very common cause of a faulty or regularly dirty system. Leaks that occur on the return side of the duct system are probable culprits of dirt and dust entering because this side of the system creates negative pressure, pulling air in. If the leak is in a dirty area of the house, such as the attic or crawl space, the result will be dirty air getting into the system.
Another common cause of dirty ducts, which can also be the root cause of the aforementioned leaks, is improper sealing of joints and duct connections. Expansion and contraction in these joint areas, especially in poor quality ducts, can cause leaks to form over time. Especially in older homes, many heating and cooling systems’ ductwork is out of date in terms of current code. Newer (and properly installed) systems should always be up to code and prevent leaks and air quality problems permanently.