Duct cleaning?? Wtf??
June 17, 2009 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Do you have your household HVAC ducts for a forced air furnace cleaned?

As homeowner for the first time, I'm looking for advice. Should I pay $225 to have my ducts cleaned? I do think that we need to have the dryer vent cleaned because it (apparently) has a history of getting blocked. But what about the rest of the house? Do you guys have this done? How often? Did you notice any improvement?

I live in Ontario Canada so central air and heating systems use the ducts.
posted by saradarlin to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We regularly change the filters on the intake vents for our own system(s), so, no. Our schedule is quarterly, and it's marked on the caledar. Pick up 8 filters in January, and we're good for the year.

The whole HVAC cleaning deal smells sort of fishy to me, but no one here suffers from debilitating allergies or anything like that. Never had it done, and probably never will.

The dryer vent is a different story, and you can buy a little chimney-sweep-type brush to do it yourself. We thought our own dryer was starting to crap out when it started taking much longer than usual to finish a load of clothes. Turns out that the ductwork was severely clogged with years worth of lint. It was also an extra-long run with two turns in it, which isn't very efficient, so I ended up having to buy a fish tape, which I used to drag the brush through the length of the duct.

Then the ductwork came apart in ceiling, which prompted a whole 'nother adventure...
posted by jquinby at 2:34 PM on June 17, 2009

I should have asked this question a few months ago. I had it done, but in retrospect I don't think it was necessary. I won't do it again, but then again, like jquinby, nobody in the household suffers from any allergies. Our primary problem was that we hadn't changed the filter in *cough* five years. First time, lazy home owners.

If you think you have any air flow issues, be sure to check your air duct dampers. They're little handles on the ducts leading from your furnace. They should be oriented in the direction of the air flow (unless, of course, you want to restrict air flow).

A somewhat related previous post.
posted by ellenaim at 2:56 PM on June 17, 2009

Do you have a reason to think they need it? Or is someone trying to convince you that you "need" to have them do it?
posted by TruncatedTiller at 4:11 PM on June 17, 2009

I have asthma and lots of allergies (esp dust). In my previous house, I decided to try getting the ducts cleaned to see if it would help. I knew it was questionable, but was willing to see. I can report that it made no difference whatsoever, and the vent cleaning company left us some Scientology leaflets to read. So if you are worried about excess thetans in your ducts, go ahead. Otherwise, I vote not to bother, just change the filters regularly.
posted by Joh at 4:18 PM on June 17, 2009

Ducts will collect some dust in them, but probably not enough to cause any problems. Do you have a lot of dust stuck to the inside of your vents, where the air is exhausted? If not, the rest of the duct work is likely pretty clean. Just changing the intake filter is the best and easiest thing. Definitely clean the dryer vent though, since built up lint can be a fire hazard.
posted by orme at 5:37 PM on June 17, 2009

If you bought an older home from someone who had pets and you are allergic, it might make sense. Otherwise it is probably unnecessary. The ducts don't create dust and any that gets in will be blown out the first time you turn on the furnace.

What may be useful is to clean out the floor registers and ducts with a vacuum cleaner in the fall before you turn on the furnace for the first time because house dust will have settled in them from the air over the summer.
posted by JackFlash at 6:03 PM on June 17, 2009

Response by poster: A little more info: The people we bought from had two cats, the husband has allergies but after carpet cleaning etc. has not noticed a problem in the house.

I was planning on having the dryer vent cleaned because it vents through the roof (stupid design) and gets, according to the previous owners, blocked. In the year that we have lived here I've noticed that the dryer takes longer and longer to dry clothes so I am pretty sure that it's time for a cleaning. I was just wondering if spending an extra $150 while the guys were already here doing the dryer vent, if they should do the rest of the vents or not.
posted by saradarlin at 11:27 PM on June 17, 2009

You can also clean the dryer vent yourself with one of these kits.
posted by orme at 4:36 AM on June 18, 2009

I did once, after insulation got into the ducts and it kept flying around whenever the heat came on. I asked the guy who did it if it was something that should be done regularly, and his answer was more or less "don't bother."
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Had the dryer vent cleaned. Dryer works perfectly again!!! Thanks for the advise, I decided not to do the rest of our house.
posted by saradarlin at 3:09 PM on July 18, 2009

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