My 48 yr old house (mine for the last 4 yrs) has considerable dust in the return plenum (fiber duct). I’m remodeling and recently re-sealed the return plenum AND the site-fabbed transition built when the new unit was installed, 2013. The return was leaky no doubt drawing musty, dusty air from the crawl space due to the Red-Neck fab & seal job! Pitiful craftsmanship! It took me 7 hours to fix the new transition piece. Anyway, the dust in the house is the same “color” as whats in the return duct and I’m getting way too much & too often in the house. I’ve also cleaned my coils, which were not that dirty.

If you suspect a mold problem — either because of visible growth or a musty smell consistently coming from supply vents — cleaning ducts won’t do much good if it doesn’t eliminate the mold. Mold begins with a moisture problem, and the ducts themselves are unlikely to be the source. The most likely culprits are the cooling system’s evaporator coils, which your heating and air-conditioning contractor — and most duct-cleaning companies — can inspect and maintain. Leaky return ducts can also introduce moisture. Again, if you suspect a mold problem, consider having a service company inspect the duct system for leaks.
Internal insulation provides better acoustical (noise) control. Flexible duct is very low cost. These products are engineered specifically for use in ducts or as ducts themselves, and are tested in accordance with standards established by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Many insulated duct systems have operated for years without supporting significant mold growth. Keeping them reasonably clean and dry is generally adequate. However, there is substantial debate about whether porous insulation materials (e.g., fiber glass) are more prone to microbial contamination than bare sheet metal ducts. If enough dirt and moisture are permitted to enter the duct system, there may be no significant difference in the rate or extent of microbial growth in internally lined or bare sheet metal ducts. However, treatment of mold contamination on bare sheet metal is much easier. Cleaning and treatment with an EPA-registered biocide are possible. Once fiberglass duct liner is contaminated with mold, cleaning is not sufficient to prevent re-growth and there are no EPA-registered biocides for the treatment of porous duct materials. EPA, NADCA and NAIMA all recommend the replacement of wet or moldy fiber glass duct material.
Read before purchasing Groupon! The Groupon offer seems like a great deal but it only includes a maintenance cleaning and not a full cleaning. They basically vacuum the vent with a shop vac. I had to argue with the techs just to get the dryer vent cleaning that is supposed to be included. When I called the office about it they said it was up to the technician to include the dryer vent cleaning but it wasn't automatically included. When I read the fine print on Groupon to her she said Groupon has worded it wrong and won't change it. Very deceiving "deal".
I called the company and John answered. We set a time for him to come over that was convenient for us both. He came exactly on time and went right to work. He removed all of the vent covers, including some screens that were over the vents that I had no idea were there. He washed all of the vent covers with soap and water and then started to vacuum all of the ducts, doing a complete and thorough job. He was extremely friendly, professional and worked quickly and thoroughly. He even checked the dryer vent exhaust on the roof to make sure it was clear. After he finished vacuuming the ducts, he sanitized them and then reattached all of the vents.

If not properly installed, maintained and operated, these components may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. If moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased and spores from such growth may be released into the home's living space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people if they are exposed to them. If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, it is important to make sure the service provider agrees to clean all components of the system and is qualified to do so. Failure to clean a component of a contaminated system can result in re-contamination of the entire system, thus negating any potential benefits. Methods of duct cleaning vary, although standards have been established by industry associations concerned with air duct cleaning. Typically, a service provider will use specialized tools to dislodge dirt and other debris in ducts, then vacuum them out with a high-powered vacuum cleaner.
We are all getting migraines several times a month. I have asthma but not ever as bad as it has been and my 2 year olds dr just informed me she potentially has asthma too. We all get sinus infections regularly and eczema and contact dermatitis. None of us have been this way until recently in our apartment. A roof leak with mold was repaired recently mold was sealed off not removed. We also had lead paint removed from a few window trims this year. I wasn’t here to see if they covered the vents. We had mice too. I vacuum everyday we have hardwood floors no one wears shoes past the font door and I’m getting over a cup full of dirt every time I vacuum. Dust on everything daily. White dust. It’s a 4 room apartment with 1 intake. They are filthy from what I can see when I change the filters. The filters are black after a few months. I feel bad to ask the homeowner to get the system cleaned, can’t afford to move (we live in the city & it’s expensive). I am going to try the shop vac to remove what I can. Any experienced hvac people please give your opinion. Should I just get it done and pay for it myself? We have lived here for 13 years. It’s never been cleaned since ive been here. Is it something I can do with a shop vac? Can i use a wet rag to get the powder dust on the inside of the vents off. One vent has what looks like chunks of dry wall or thick paint sitting in the vent and none of the vents screw into the wall, the screws just fall out. No one ever reinforced the area so the wall just basically crumbles. Kind of useless to spend the money on filters since the air and dust just blows out around the sides of the vents and one of the vents just falls right out of the wall when the heat is turned on. I don’t know why the owner doesn’t fix it. He’s been here to replace filters and saw the condition.
If I could rate this company a zero I would in a heartbeat. I purchased the service off of Groupon and to say that the groupon was misleading is an understatement. I was at work and my girlfriend was at the house when they got there (keep in mind it took six months for them to be able to get there because they were over booked). They tried to upcharge my girlfriend $250 immediately upon getting there. I told her to put me on the phone and spoke with the guy myself. He said that he would have the manager call me and that he would just start on the service. I received a text from my girlfriend 10 minutes later that the people had left. I never received a call from the manager. They didn't do all vents in the house. All they did was the main floor. It was a pathetic attempt to say the least.
Their crew arrived promptly at 7:00 am. Carlos explained what each crew member would be doing. They increased the insulation in my attic. They also discovered that the ducts had been attached to the vents with plain duct tape. The duct tape had become gooey due to heat and had slipped off the vents in many places. This allowed out side air and dust to enter, spreading dust out of the vents. It also allowed cooled air to escape into the attic. The corrected all of the duct work connections. Jeff came to check the work upon completion. He ran tests to verify that the work had been done correctly, and he replaced all of the "regular" light bulbs with cal bulbs. All of the work was done quickly and neatly.
Pay particular attention to cooling coils, which are designed to remove water from the air and can be a major source of moisture contamination of the system that can lead to mold growth. Make sure the condensate pan drains properly. The presence of substantial standing water and/or debris indicates a problem requiring immediate attention. Check any insulation near cooling coils for wet spots.

Although much of the energy used to power heating and cooling equipment is indeed wasted, that waste is because of inefficient equipment, lousy insulation, leaks around doors and windows, and unsealed ductwork. While there’s some benefit to cleaning and maintaining HVAC equipment, that benefit is relatively small, and little energy waste is attributable to dirty ducts or equipment.
I was with you until you said avoid steaming cleaning or moisture, there is no way you can remove mold or any other type of biological without moisture. The best way to do this is in fact with a steamer using a commercial disinfectant and a non reactive odor remover so your home smells refreshed and not like a hospital . This is directly contradictory to your article.

The headache started with a Groupon purchase. Service for an air duct cleaning was purchased and scheduled. When the guy arrived he attempted to say that the purchase was only for a vacuuming of the vents and not a duct cleaning. Despite showing him the groupon he refused to do service. We then contacted Jennifer at this company and eventually got on a three way call with groupon who agreed with us that the service was for a complete air duct cleaning and not just using a hand vacuum to clean vents (something we could do any time). Jennifer has since hung up on my wife twice despite being civil and merely asking for the services we paid for. Unprofessional.

Here in Frisco, TX…just had a tech come out to clean vents. I used a 30 bucks groupon for “complete vent cleaning”. He told me I have 3 AC units and groupon covers only 1. I told him to do the unit upstairs where the kids sleep. He decided on his own to do the downstairs unit. I yelled at him why he is not doing the unit I told him to do! He said they are all connected. I will clean two for you for the price of one… Oh really?


“Ideally, the inside surface will be shiny and bright after cleaning. Duct cleaning may be justifiable to you personally for that very reason: you may not want to have your house air circulated through a duct passage that is not as clean as the rest of the house. However, duct cleaning will not usually change the quality of the air you breathe, nor will it significantly affect airflows or heating costs.”
Some research suggests that cleaning heating and cooling system components (e.g., cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers) may improve the efficiency of your system, resulting in a longer operating life, as well as some energy and maintenance cost savings. However, little evidence exists that cleaning only the ducts will improve the efficiency of the system.
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