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For those using an HVAC system to heat their home, there are a number of companies that offer professional services to clean your air ducts. Your air ducts can be likened to being the “lungs” of your house, taking in and breathing out the air in your home, along with the dust, pet dander and other particles that routinely float around in the air. Cleaning companies recommend you have your air ducts cleaned in order to reduce health issues and improve the energy efficiency of your system, but how necessary is it? As an air duct cleaning can cost anywhere from about $450 to $1,000, you want to be sure you are getting your money’s worth.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is actually no proof that having your air ducts cleaned will prevent health problems, and simply having the air ducts cleaned apart from the rest of the heating system does little to increase efficiency and energy savings.

No studies have demonstrated conclusively that dirty air ducts increase the amount of dust particles in the air, as the dust tends to stick to the surfaces of the air ducts rather than being blown out through your house. Pollution, both indoor and outdoor, and particles from things such as cleaning, cooking and smoking create far more unhealthy particulate matter in the air than that which comes from your air ducts.

However, the EPA does suggest that if there is substantial visible mold growth, if the ducts have an infestation of insects or rodents, or if the ducts are excessively clogged and are releasing particles into the home, then you may want to have your air ducts professionally cleaned.

Before having your air ducts treated for mold growth, first be sure that what you are seeing is indeed mold. There are other things that resemble mold that aren’t, so an expert should be consulted to determine whether it is mold or not. If you have any wet or moldy insulation around your air ducts, this will have to be removed and replaced, as it cannot be cleaned. Be sure to remove the source of the moisture, otherwise the mold will re-grow even after the ducts have been cleaned.

The EPA recommends that if you or members of your family are suffering from asthma or any other unexplained illnesses, it may be wise to have your HVAC system inspected and have the air ducts cleaned by a certified professional. Otherwise, they should be cleaned only as needed.

If you do choose to have your air ducts cleaned, be sure that your service provider cleans all parts of the system, because if any contaminated part is not properly cleaned it will re-contaminate the entire system. And if you have a furnace, stove or fireplace, be sure to have it inspected each year before the heating season begins to ensure it is not releasing deadly carbon monoxide fumes.

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