The spring cleaning task that can really clear the air in your home

Your spring cleaning routine will probably cover important, much-used rooms in your house, like the kitchen, baths and living room. But to really ensure your home’s air is as fresh and clean as it can be, it’s important to remember to spring clean the “hidden” room in your home – its heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, including the ducts.

Dirty ducts and clogged air filters can harbor dust, dirt, mold, mildew and a host of allergens that can all make the air quality inside your home less than clean and fresh. Think of your HVAC system and ducts as another room in your house – one that affects the comfort level in all the others – that needs to be properly cleaned for spring.

Air duct cleaning is one spring cleaning job you really can’t do yourself. It pays to involve a professional who will do the job right the first time, because doing the job wrong can actually cause problems in the system. But before you pick up the phone, make sure you know what a good cleaning will involve so you can be sure the pro you hire does the job well.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association, offers a checklist for homeowners hiring a duct cleaner. Here are some questions to ask a professional about what the cleaning will encompass. Will he:

* Inspect the system thoroughly before he begins work and alert you to any problems? NADCA requires certified members to provide this service to customers.

* Ensure the HVAC system fully functional before the cleaning begins?

* Clean return air and air supply ductwork?

* If interior ductwork is made of metal, ensure that all surfaces are free of visible debris? The cleaner should inspect ductwork at several random sites, on both return and supply sides of the system, to ensure this.

* Check fiberglass or fiber-lined ductwork to ensure it’s in good condition, free of tears and abrasions and well-adhered to the interior of the duct?

* Ensure supply registers, return air grilles and diffusers are visibly clean when the work is done. All should be properly replaced and reset.

* Check that the supply plenum (a device directly downstream of the air handling unit) is free of moisture stains and contaminants? Is the return air plenum free of visible dust and debris?

* Seal access panels according to the NADCA standard after the air duct cleaning is done?

* Clean the airstream side of the heat exchanger?

* Remove, clean and reinstall the blower motor, housing and assembly? Blower blades should be clean and free of oil and debris, and the blower compartment free of visible dust and debris.

* Clean the evaporator coil, drain and pan? Using what method – contact vacuum, brush or air wash? Coil cleaning chemicals and water?

* Check to make sure the cooling coil is clean and functioning properly? Can you see light through the coil when you shine a flashlight behind it? You should if it’s clean? Are coil fins straight and evenly spaced, as opposed to being bent and smashed?

* Replace air filters and ensure they fit properly and are the proper efficiency as recommended by the HVAC system manufacturer?

* Wash the air cleaner?

If a cleaner answers “no” to any of these questions, he might not be offering you the best cleaning possible for your system. To find qualified HVAC technicians, visit and click on “find a member near you.”


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