By Rachelle Martini, SERVPRO of Minnetonka, Coon Rapids, Central Anoka County & Northwest Ramsey County
Break out the mop, feather duster and vacuum – it’s that time of year again. Mother Nature is springing back to life, along with all of the blessings and curses that come with the season.
The pollen count will spike and the allergies will be back in full swing. Sometimes your only escape from a runny nose and congested head is to head for the great indoors. Of course, in many homes and offices, the air-conditioned refuge just doesn’t provide the break you are seeking from the itchy-watery eyes and sniffles. What in the world is going on?
It could be that your living environment (or work space) is in need of a spring cleaning. Pollutants can enter the home in several ways such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, pets and even home remodeling projects. Today our living environments are often so well built and insulated, that they are nearly air-tight. While this may help keep the warmth and air conditioning inside during the proper seasons, it can also allow contaminants – such as dust and mold particles to build up to potentially irritating, or even unhealthy levels.
Ventilation systems can often be a large culprit in poor indoor air quality. That’s right; your indoor sanctuary where you go to relieve your spring allergies might be responsible for circulating dust, odors and other contaminants throughout your property.
Consider having your air ducts cleaned if:
There is visible mold growth inside your ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system.
Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents, or insects).
Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are being released into your living or working areas from your supply registers.
How to select a reputable contractor:
Can the contractor show proof of NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) membership and certification?
How long has the contractor been in the HVAC system cleaning business?
Can the contractor provide evidence of General Liability Insurance coverage and a labor warranty?
Will the contractor conduct a thorough inspection of your system PRIOR to performing any work and alert you to any problems?
Is the contractor giving you a guaranteed price before the inspection? Finding mold in the system, damaged fiberglass insulation, cleaning or treating cooling coils could become add-on costs.
Will the contractor provide you with a means to conduct a visual inspection at any time during the cleaning? (Mirror and flashlight, camera or other remote visual systems).
Will the contractor be cleaning the complete system, including coils and fans?
How can you prevent duct contamination after a cleaning?
Whether or not you decide to have your ducts cleaned, committing to a good preventative maintenance program is essential to minimize duct contamination.
To prevent dirt from entering the system:
Use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.
Change your filters regularly (if they become clogged, change them more frequently).
Be sure you DO NOT have any missing filters and that air cannot bypass filters through gaps around the filter holder.
During construction or remodeling projects that produce dust in your environment, (if possible) seal off supply and return registers and do not operate the heating and cooling system until after cleaning up the dust.
Remove dust and vacuum regularly. Use a high efficiency vacuum (HEPA) cleaner or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum cleaner can take.
Prevent your ducts from becoming wet! Promptly and properly repair any leaks or water damage that threaten your ducts and HVAC system.
Keeping yours ducts in a row can help to:
Restore peak energy efficiency.
Eliminate offensive odors.
Reduce allergens and the potential for mold growth within your living and working environment.