If you are thinking about getting your air ducts cleaned before the heating/cooling season, there are some consumer tips you should be aware of before you hire a technician to do this service; or attempt Do-it-Yourself duct cleaning.

Duct-Cleaning How-To's are not legally mandated, but there are associations that police the industry. A trained technician who understands the intricacies of an HVAC system, and is certified by NADCA is your best bet as a homeowner; but first, know what type(s) of duct material need special attention:

What Your Ducts are likely made of:

Duct Board

A fiberglass board usually covered with aluminum foil on the outside. Several boards can be assembled together to help airflow and maintain temperature. The fiberglass in a duct board serves primarily as an insulation barrier for the air passing through the duct. The metallic foil side of a duct board serves as a vapor barrier. This layer protects moisture from being trapped within the fibers. Many duct boards have their fiberglass treated to also help prevent the spread of air duct mold and fungus through its hardware.

  • Pros: Among its many benefits include its lightweight construction and durability.
  • Cons: Wetness can be harmful to the fiberglass and can lead to costly replacement.

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Metal Duct

Sheet metal duct is made from galvanized steel. Sheet metal can be insulated in 2 ways...

1. Inside: Sheet metal ducts are sometimes lined on the inside with fiberglass or other material to insulate the duct and to deaden sound.

2. Outside: Insulation can be wrapped on the outside of the duct for insulation properties while reducing restrictions on the inside of the duct and reducing places for dust and particles to be trapped.

  • Pros: It can be produced in many shapes and/or sizes to fit unusual locations, has excellent air flow properties, and resistant to water damage - unlike most other products.
  • Cons: Sheet metal ducting that is lined on the inside for insulation valueallows for dust and particles to be trapped in the exposed part of the insulation, has restricted air flow, which ultimately increases the chances of mold or mildew growth.

Flex Duct

This is made of flexible plastic over a metal wire coil to make round, flexible duct. Next, there is a layer of fiberglass insulation that covers the duct, and lastly an outside jacket of vinyl or foil layer that protects the insulation.

  • Pros: Flexible duct is excellent for reducing noise from equipment, can quickly be installed, has a good vapor barrier, and it can be easily replaced and/or repaired.

  • Cons: Requires replacement, and is easily damaged: Touching against any sharp objects could also rip it beyond repair. You have to be extremely careful while working with it.

Because most duct work in homes and residential structures are made up of these materials, you may want to refer to the EPA's Suggestions for Choosing a Duct Cleaning Service Provider:

  • Are they experienced in duct cleaning, and have worked on systems like yours?
  • Will they use procedures to protect you, your pets, and your home from contamination?
  • Do they comply with NADCA's air duct cleaning standards and,
  • If your ducts are constructed of fiber glass duct board, or are insulated internally with fiber glass duct liner, do they comply with the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association's (NAIMA) recommendations?

What are Air Ducts? Call AdvantaClean 877.800.2382 today for a certified cleaning of air ducts or inspection.

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