McCutcheon Air Conditioning and Heating Blog
If low quality AC filters are used, or if your ductwork is not adequately sealed, you may accumulate some dirt and other debris over a period of time.
There are many companies out there who will try to scare you by claiming your home is making you sick. They create advertisements that warn about cancer causing mold, dust mites, and toxic insect parts that cause asthma and allergies. One company claims they can extract up to 15 gallons of debris from your ducts and by doing so, you will save up to 30% on your electric bill.
Unfortunately, most of the information available about duct cleaning originates from people associated with the industry or from firms who market air duct cleaning services.
It seems that the air quality business is very profitable and very easy to get into.
For example, the following is from the www.air-care.com website.
"...The air duct cleaning and decontamination industry is currently experiencing unprecedented growth. ..."Gain unlimited earnings, Realize a 50 - 70% net profit, Operate with a low overhead..."
This is one of countless companies that offer equipment and training for those wanting to start a profitable residential duct cleaning business. For a low price (and 0% financing) you can get lightweight one man duct cleaning equipment that will help you rake in the big bucks.
It is very simple to get into the air duct cleaning business, anyone with the slightest bit of interest can do it, and any requirements are minimal. There are also virtually no uniform standards of professional practice, This has caused small companies to spring up that offer questionable and controversial techniques.
What methods are used to "clean" residential ducts, and do they work?
Vacuum equipment: The claim is that dirt can simply be sucked out of the ducts. This is actually very ineffective because it is impossible to vacuum debris from even a few feet of duct work. Just try vacuuming your floor by holding your duct buster 6 inches above the carpet.
Blowers: They only dislodge loose debris from the very end of the ductwork – the first couple feet that anyone can actually see. Only a very small portion of the total ductwork is cleaned..
Brushes on flexible rods and compressed air fed through the ductwork: This method removes only a very small amount of the debris and will damage ducts creating an even larger problem. Using any kind of brush or forced air will also blow all of those contaminants throughout your home. If the ducts are fiberglass – this method will damage insulation and release fiberglass fibers throughout the home.
Bottom line is that if you actually have dirt in your residential air conditioning ducts, it is almost impossible to effectively remove it by any method available without damaging your ducts and making your air quality worse.
Can you sanitize ductwork?
Companies often claim they can sanitize residential ductwork. The problem here is that the biocides needed to kill mold and bacteria will also cause a danger to the occupants of the home. Simply spraying Lysol into the ducts does nothing. And believe it or not – some companies have been known to do just that.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. will not clean residential ducts because there just is no effective way to do it.
The best way to ensure you have the best air quality is to use a good quality air filter that is changed on a regular basis, and make sure your duck work is in good condition and is not leaking. Installing Ultra Violet Lights will also kill germs, germs, bacteria, viruses, mildew, and mold spores such as stachybotrys and black mold.
If you have any questions, or need a second opinion, please call Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc.
All of us like to try and find the best deals – especially when it comes to expensive home improvements.
However, if a plumber, electrician, or air conditioning contractor has just given you a very low quote that seems too good to be true, there is a good chance they are unlicensed.
As tempting as it may be to hire an unlicensed contractor who offers a great bargain, it is against the law!
Now if you are ever in doubt you can whip out your smart phone and make sure you have the right person for the job!
Just search for the Florida DBPR Mobile App – it's free, and will let you easily search for companies and individuals to make sure they are licensed.
Besides it being illegal to hire unlicensed contractors, unlicensed contractors are subject to arrest and prosecution for working without a license.
Here are some other reasons not to use them:
Unlicensed contractors may not have the proper skills and experience. They also don't have professional or legal standards they must abide by.
Unlicensed contractors are dangerous because they expose you to significant financial harm if injury or property damage happens.
Homeowner's insurance does not cover unlicensed contractors, and by law the homeowner is held responsible for hiring an unlicensed contractor and is held accountable for any work associated with the contractor. If an unlicensed contractor's carelessness leads to injury or damage to your neighbors property, the problem is yours.
If a contractor files bankruptcy or skips out while working on your home, you are responsible for all fines and unpaid bills to suppliers. You're also responsible for the wages of employees who worked for the unlicensed contractor.
Many people prefer to have a heat pump.
With a heat pump, you do not need to have a separate AC system and a heater, the heat pump actually provides both heating and cooling capabilities.
During colder temperatures a heat pump will extract heat from the air outside and pump it inside. This means that they use much less energy than even the most energy efficient furnaces.
Unfortunately however, heat pumps work best at temperatures above 40 degrees.
When it gets very cold and the air temperature falls below 40 degrees, the unit can freeze up. When this happens the system has to defrost itself. During a defrost cycle the air conditioning has to run in order to melt the ice, and the backup electric heater will turn on so cold air is not blown into the home. So basically you have AC and heat working at the same time which isn't all that efficient.
The way to avoid this situation is to go ahead and turn the heat on before it gets that cold. On most thermostats this is listed as EM Heat (Emergency Heat) When a thermostat is set to this, only the heat will turn on when the temperature drops.
Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. advises that you test your electric heat before the temperature gets very cold. This way you know that you will have heat on those cold nights.
Most people never think to make sure the heat is working properly, and every year this results in great numbers of people calling AC repair companies for emergency service calls. There just aren't enough AC techs to handle these calls and some people go days without heat.
Another great idea is to sign up for a preventative maintenance program.
Your AC System will be completely checked every spring and fall so you will have peace of mind knowing it will heat when it needs to. Also, with a maintenance agreement, if you ever do need a repair, you will get priority as a preferred customer.
The question is "Can your A/C air ducts really be efficiently cleaned?"
Many disreputable Air Conditioning companies offer cheap duct cleaning. They run specials for $49.95 and claim to be able to clean the air in your home. They will scare you with warnings that you have filthy moldy ducts and the health of your family could be in danger.
One company even uses this line " The average single-family home will have gallons of dust collecting on the walls of air ducts..." They offer to clean your vents for $15.00 each. Funny enough - their ad looks like they are holding a vacuum up to an air vent. That must be one powerful vacuum to suck gallons of dust from hundreds of feet of ducts.
There have been horror stories about people spending thousands of dollars just to have an A/C company do nothing more than spray cans of Lysol into the vents while the AC is running and then claim the ducts have been sanitized.
Some companies use special brushes at the end of long poles and claim they can remove the dust, mold, and etc, that way.
So what is the truth about duct cleaning?
The truth is that most residential A/C Air Ducts cannot be properly cleaned.
If you have Flexible Ducts the act of stuffing a brush through them will rip the material and create holes in the ductwork. The result: Not only are your ducts not clean - but now you are losing cold air into your attic as well as letting more contaminants (and maybe a few little critters) into your home.
If your ducts are made of fiberglass board - not only can they not be properly cleaned, but the act of trying to clean them will most likely result in filling your ducts, and your home with tiny little fiberglass particles. Some fiberglass ducts have a coating that will reduce the amount of fiberglass particles created - but there will still be more than 50% of the "dust" left remaining.
Unfortunately the only type of ducts designed to be cleaned are usually for commercial applications.
Let us repeat: Very few residential duct systems can be effectively cleaned without dismantling or replacement.
So how about sanitizing ductwork?
One of the most efficient and acceptable ways to sanitize ductwork is by using a type of fog machine that will mist a chemical that can sometimes kill mold growing in ducts. Usually you will have to completely vacate the premises for up to 6 hours while this is going on. Even then, you can only expect a 40% success rate.
Bottom line - beware of duct cleaning scams. Usually the unscrupulous contractor will use this as a means to gain access to your home and intentionally mislead the homeowner into paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for additional work.
At Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating - we want you to you be informed, and we want you to know the facts. Feel free to call or email us anytime you have a question.
When you become a Priority Service Agreement Member with Sean McCutcheon's Air Conditioning and Heating, inc. you will enjoy many benefits including free maintenance when you refer customers to us.
Every time you refer a friend or family member to us and they sign up for a Priority Service Agreement, you will get your next maintenance visit free of charge. You can get a whole year free by having 2 people sign up. If 10 of your friends sign up with us you'll get 5 years of maintenance no charge.
Prevention is always better than the cure. A maintenance agreement will keep your air conditioning unit in good working condition and help you avoid expensive repair bills. A properly maintained system will also lower your energy bills. Some manufacturers warranties require annual maintenance.
What does it include?
Two thorough 38 point inspections per year.
Air filter cleaning or replacement (most models).
Wash and wax outdoor unit.
15% discount on service repairs.
Discounts on future replacements.
Indoor unit cleaning.