6 Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning
The quality and consistency of the air inside your household can affect everything from the atmosphere down to the health conditions of you and your loved ones. It kind of goes without saying that if you don’t maintain cleanliness, your home will end up being the equivalent of a biohazard zone. One of your first steps should be to clean the ducts that connect your little abode with the big blue world outside.
By their very nature, air ducts will naturally attract a lot of nasty detritus and germs, so it is often a matter of when it happens and not how. It’s beneficial if you develop a habit of spotting some very early “symptoms” of a dirty air duct.
Some signs are more evident than others, that’s for sure. And yet, the vast majority of people underestimate the severity of some indications or outright misconstrue others. That’s more or less why we’ve compiled this list – so that you don’t follow in the footsteps of newbies and tackle (on time!) the nasty fungi, dust, dirt, or living pest that’s settled in your ducts.
Your vents, ducts, and filters may all be clogged without you realizing it. People assume that if they don’t see any visible dust during the middle phases of the HVAC system’s workload (or on the surface of the cavities themselves), then everything is “all good.”
The truth is, dust puffs may appear when you least expect them – during the first moments you turn on your system, for example. Usually, there’s not supposed to be even the slightest waft of fine particles when air ducts' cooling or heating mechanisms are turned on.
In addition, if you find yourself changing the filters too often – say, monthly instead of every three or four months – then this is most likely a sign of a deeper problem with the ducts; most likely a job for professional services like YourHomeFix and the like.
Smells and ‘Stillness’
Unpleasant odors are super obvious signs, but they’re not always perceptible from far away. You may smell something odd but falsely identify the source. In other cases, the smell does not become evident until you get very close to the ducts themselves.
Besides funky smells, your other “shining neon sign” is the airflow itself – or rather, the lack of it. Your HVAC system should normally provide consistent airflow throughout the entire household. That is its job, after all. If you notice any inconsistencies in the airflow, such as a “stillness” to the air – then you know what your first job is. Freshness should always come first, folks.
Pests, critters, creepy-crawlies – whichever name you want to use, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that your air ducts are ‘not’ supposed to be makeshift ecosystems for living organisms. Assuming that you’ve recently noticed a few bugs crawling around here and there, be sure to check out the air ducts, as they’re often the source of the soon-to-be-worse infestation.
Mice and certain insects like roaches carry diseases, microbes, and various allergens – mainly due to their excrements - so don’t dilly-dally and call a professional service to get things in check!
Your unwanted guests don’t always come in the form of animals. Mold and mildew are like ticking time bombs for allergens and irritants.
While it is plain as day that you’ll have to clean the ducts if you spot mold or mildew inside or near them – these fungi fiends can be quite the tricksters sometimes. If you notice any type of fungus on your wall, regardless if it’s near the vents or not, you should immediately inspect the airflow of your HVAC system, as it may be one of the culprits, if not the source.
If you notice any spikes in air conditioning bills that go beyond minor incremental differences, then your best guess in this scenario would be to assume that your HVAC system is cooling or heating inefficiently. Regardless of the season, the bills should maintain some degree of constancy.
During such scenarios, the ductwork may be clogged at certain parts to the point of inconsistent airflow, resulting in the equipment “pushing on” bigger workloads and using more energy to do what it already did before, effectively.
This part already ties into the previously mentioned pests, but regardless – if you hear any unusual, strange, or otherwise inconsistent arhythmic sounds and noise patterns, then (at the risk of sounding like a broken record twice or thrice) inspect your air ducts immediately.
Sometimes the noises themselves might seem like they originate from different places, thus inevitably misguiding you. Don’t be fooled, though, as the air duct system provides enough of a “soundscape” for uncharacteristic noises that can be misleading at first hearing.
We hope this article has helped (and enlightened) our readers in giving a second thought to that previously ignored “symptom.” You never know what molehill can become a mountain in these scenarios, so better be safe than sorry and call a professional service to inspect that mystifying ductwork!