Between routine filter changes and scheduling annual AC and heater maintenance, you might think you have your HVAC system under control, but you might be missing one important step. it’s easy to overlook the HVAC air ducts in your San Antonio, TX home. After all, much of your ducting is likely hidden behind drywall or in other inconspicuous locations. Despite being both out of sight and out of mind, your ducting can have a significant effect on your indoor air quality (IAQ), your health, and the efficiency of your heating and cooling equipment. To help you stay on track with ongoing duct maintenance, watch for these nine signs that it’s time to have your air ducts professionally cleaned.
1. You Haven’t Scheduled Duct Cleaning in More Than Five Years
While the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) recommends scheduling professional duct cleaning every three to five years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests maintaining an as-needed duct cleaning schedule. In short, opinions on when HVAC air ducts should be cleaned vary significantly. However, what’s known for certain is that these services alleviate HVAC system stress and eliminate many common allergens and contaminants that air filters cannot or have not picked up.
If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned in more than five years, now is a good time to schedule an appointment. These systems are constantly subjected to debris that has broken away from HVAC air filters or bypassed filters entirely. HVAC ducts can also attract insects, rodents, and other critters. Even when pests don’t stick around for long, they’re virtually guaranteed to leave fur, feces, and other leavings behind. Whether following the advice of NADCA or the EPA, five years is plenty of time for a substantial amount of debris to accumulate.
2. You’ve Recently Treated a Major Pest Infestation
If you’ve recently treated a pest infestation or you’re currently battling one, having your air ducts cleaned is a great way to keep the issue from recurring. With insects, professional duct cleaning methods are powerful enough to extract remaining larvae and eggs. Duct cleaning technicians can also remove hair, fur, dander, and other leavings. Cleaning HVAC air ducts as part of your pest management plan creates a less habitable environment for unwanted guests while additionally removing the pathogens and allergens that they’ve brought in. During this service, our team can also look for viable points of ingress and seal them off, reducing the risks of recurrence.
3. Turning Your HVAC System on Causes Allergy Symptoms
Changing out your HVAC air filter is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to give your indoor air quality an immediate boost. However, if you have already replaced your filter and your home’s inhabitants are still coughing, sneezing, or wheezing when your air conditioner or heater is on, you could have a substantial build-up of allergens in your ducting.
Dirty HVAC air ducts can cause a host of unpleasant IAQ-related symptoms when heating and cooling equipment is in use. Among these are:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Stuffy nasal passages
- Throat irritation
- Low energy
Before upgrading your HVAC system with the addition of integrated accessories like air purifiers or air scrubbers, start by thoroughly cleaning it. Just as your heater and air conditioner need regular service, your HVAC air ducts require professional attention too.
4. You have to Change Your HVAC Air Filter More Often
HVAC air filters should be inspected every month. In most households, these components should be changed once every 30 to 90 days. If you’re finding that your HVAC air filter is heavily coated in a thick, lint-like material after just two to three weeks of use, this is a good sign that your HVAC air ducts are downright filthy.
5. Strange Smells Permeate Your Home Whenever Your HVAC System Is On
Dirty air ducts won’t just impact your IAQ. They can also fill your living environment with odors that make it downright unpleasant to be indoors. If your home is permeated by a damp or musty smell when you use your air conditioner, this may mean that build-ups of mildew, mold, and other particulates are impacting airflow and increasing humidity.
Although detecting a faint burnt or dusty smell when your heater is first turned on for the season is normal, this odor should abate on its own within just several minutes. If this odor persists or becomes stronger, having professionals suction out the dry particulates that are responsible for it is a good idea.
HVAC air ducts that smell putrid when your HVAC equipment is in use may be home to the decomposing carcass of a wandering animal. Common signs of active pest infestations include scratching, scuttling, and scurrying sounds, particularly during the nighttime hours, and sudden and dramatic decreases in indoor air quality. However, there is also the possibility that a single animal wandered into your ductwork and was unable to find its way back out. In this case, HVAC professionals can remove the carcass, disinfect and deodorize all affected surfaces, and extract fur, feces, and other leavings.
6. Building Renovations Were Just Completed
Certain renovation and remodeling projects can inundate HVAC ductwork with dust and other debris. If you recently replaced several sections of drywall throughout your home, refinished your attic or basement, or tore out your old flooring and put new floors in, professional duct cleaning can help improve your IAQ. It’s also a good idea to have ducts cleaned after major landscaping projects have been completed or when there’s been a major construction project nearby.
7. You’ve Been Battling a Recurring Mold Infestation
If you have recurring problems with mold in your home, your HVAC air ducts may also be contaminated. Duct cleaning will kill mold spores that have found their way into this system so that they aren’t being circulated throughout your home. In addition to scheduling professional duct cleaning, you can also look at integrated HVAC accessories for keeping future mold issues at bay. UV lights, air scrubbers, and air purifiers are all additions that provide ongoing sanitization.
8. Airflow Throughout Your HVAC System Is Unstable
Heaters and air conditioners require balanced, steady airflow to do their jobs efficiently. Increasing build-ups of debris within your air ducts will eventually obstruct the flow of air. When this happens, you’ll have higher levels of humidity both in your ducting and in your living space, and you’ll likely notice an increase in your home energy bills. When airflow is impeded, HVAC systems have to work harder. They sustain more wear, and their lifespans decrease. If the airflow in your home is unstable, you may notice the indoor air feeling, heavy, clammy, muggy, or oppressive. You might have hot and cold spots throughout the building, and rooms that never seem to reach your preferred temperature at all.
9. Your HVAC Air Vents Are Coated with Dust
Among the surest signs of dirty air ducts and compromised airflow are HVAC air registers, grilles, or vents that are heavily coated in debris. This is accumulated dirt, hair, pollen, dander, and other particulates that have detached from your air filter and accumulated within the air distribution system. Although you can certainly wipe these features down or clean them out with your vacuum cleaner’s hose and attachment, professional duct cleaning will extract the build-ups that lie beyond your reach.
We’ve been proudly serving San Antonio and the surrounding area since 1990. We offer air conditioning, heating, and indoor air quality services. We also provide VRF systems, duct cleaning, and sheet metal fabrication. To find out about our preventative maintenance plans or to schedule an appointment to have your HVAC air ducts cleaned, contact Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating today.