As a homeowner, you already know the importance of keeping things clean. Whether you’re doing the dishes to keep them from attracting pests or disinfecting the bathtub to prevent mold from growing, cleaning up is a crucial part of protecting your home from damage and making sure you and your family have a healthy living environment. However, there’s one spot that many homeowners don’t think of when they’re tidying up the house: the ductwork. Keeping your air ducts clean and free of any dust or mold will keep your HVAC system running at full efficiency and prevent hazardous contaminants from entering your air supply.
Unlike most parts of your house, the ducts aren’t really something you can clean by yourself. The ducts themselves are cramped and very delicate, and cleaning them requires some disassembly. Luckily, most HVAC maintenance companies will also offer duct cleaning services, Valley Comfort included. Keeping up with regular professional ductwork cleaning will allow your HVAC system to run smoothly and protect you from dust, mold, dust mites, and anything else that might make its way into the airflow.
What are Dust Mites and Why Should You Care?
One of the more common contaminants that can be found in uncleaned ductwork is a dust mite infestation. Dust mites are small insect-like creatures closely related to ticks and spiders. They’re extremely small, requiring a microscope to see. Because they’re too small to be seen by the human eye, dust mite infestations are very hard to find. In fact, there’s a good chance that your home is hosting a colony of dust mites already – about four out of every five American households have dust mites living in at least one bedroom. They typically prefer warm, humid spaces and are generally found in bedding and upholstered furniture. Mites are often found in beds because they feed on dead human skin cells that fall off while we sleep.
The good news is that the dust mites themselves are completely harmless. They don’t bite, burrow, or sting and they have no interest in trying to eat any living cells. In fact, by feeding on your dead skin cells, they help to keep your home just a little bit cleaner. However, dust mites aren’t completely benign as house guests. Proximity to mites can cause allergy-like symptoms in many people, especially anyone suffering from asthma. While we’re not allergic to the mites themselves, proteins left behind in their feces, urine, and decaying bodies can irritate and inflame your nasal passages.
Luckily, dust mite allergens typically don’t stay in the air for long, instead settling into dust or on fabric. Most allergic reactions to dust mites occur overnight, triggered by allergens clinging to your bedsheets and blankets. You can reduce the dust mite population and clear away any leftover allergens by cleaning your bedding regularly, at least once a week, and by dusting your home frequently. If someone in your household suffers from asthma or has a severe allergy to dust mites, you can help by eliminating the places where they like to live, such as upholstered furniture and carpeting. You can also try to reduce the humidity in your home to make it a more hostile environment for dust mites.
In some cases, you can end up with dust mites living in your air ducts and feeding on the dust and old skin cells pulled in by the HVAC system. This can pose a serious problem for anyone suffering from a dust mite allergy. When the air conditioning turns on, it can blow the allergens from the dust mites directly into the air in your home, where it’s easily inhaled by anyone living there. Unlike regular dust mite colonies, this problem is more difficult to fix on your own. A full air duct cleaning from a professional HVAC company will clear away both the dust mites as well as the dust they feed on, preventing more mites from making their way back to the ducts. The cleaning will also keep other contaminants from entering the airflow, including mold.
The Importance of Duct Cleaning
There are a couple of major benefits of duct cleaning. The first is what we touched on in the paragraph above – health and safety. Ductwork is designed to be a closed system, and there are plenty of fail-safes that prevent dust and other contaminants from entering your air supply. Vent covers and grills keep everything in your house from entering the ducts, and the air filter in your AC unit prevents anything from entering the ducts from outside. However, no system is perfect, and small particulates are going to gradually build up inside the ductwork no matter how often you clean the vent covers. All of that buildup can get blown right back out into your house by the air conditioner, potentially causing allergies and other respiratory reactions.
Besides dust mites, the other major thing to look out for is mold growing in the ducts. Mold typically prefers more humid areas, but it can be very insidious and has been known to take hold in the ducts as well. If only a few spores make their way into the vents, a whole colony of mold can start to grow. The real problem is when that mold releases spores of its own. The air conditioner can blow the spores to other parts of the ductwork or just straight into your house. From there, the spores can start growing new mold anywhere in your house and can also cause respiratory problems if you inhale them while they’re in the air. To get rid of mold, the ductwork will have to be completely cleaned and sanitized by a professional.
Allowing your ducts to go uncleaned can cause other problems as well. When dirt and dust start to build up in the ductwork, it blocks some of the air from passing through, cutting down on the airflow through the system. That means less cold air is actually making it from the AC unit to the room you’re trying to cool down. In order to make up for the reduction in airflow, your HVAC system will have to work a little harder and stay on for a little longer to make sure the house stays cool. This can result in a spike in your next power bill, but it also increases the wear and tear on the parts inside your air conditioner. As the system works harder and the parts wear down faster, you’re going to end up needing more frequent repairs, and eventually, the lifespan of your air conditioner will be shortened.
Fortunately, duct cleaning isn’t something you have to do all that often. It depends on the climate where you live, but it’s generally recommended to have your ducts cleaned once every two to five years. Your HVAC contractor will be able to give you a more accurate schedule by looking at the specifics of your system, as well as give you an idea of what the air duct cleaning cost will be. Having your ducts cleaned can be a pain, but it’ll more than pay for itself by keeping your power bills low and preventing additional repair costs.
Duct Cleaners in Sonoma County
It’s always important to make sure you’re hiring the right company for any job, duct cleaning included. Finding an air duct cleaner in Santa Rosa is easy, but finding the right one can be difficult. You want to ensure that you find a company that’s efficient, inexpensive, and above all else trustworthy. If you already have an HVAC contracting company you work with for your air conditioning maintenance, it’s worth asking to see if they do duct cleaning as well – many do. If they don’t, or if you haven’t found a good maintenance company yet, then you’ll have to start from square one.
When you’re looking for any tradesperson, air duct cleaning included, the most important thing to pay attention to is reputation. The best way to judge these companies is by looking at the satisfaction of their customers, so you should start by asking around for recommendations. Ask your friends, co-workers, and nearby family members to see if any names come up more than once. Sometimes you can even find a consensus just from asking around and you can skip most of the rest of the searching process. If you have an HVAC maintenance company already but they don’t do duct cleaning, ask them for a referral – they’ll know better than anyone who the most reputable duct cleaners in the area are.
The internet is also a great place to get a sense of a company’s reputation. Searching online for air duct cleaner reviews can help paint a picture of how they treat their customers as well as the quality of their work. Google and Facebook reviews are a good place to start, but we’d recommend staying away from Yelp since they’ve been known to skew their ratings in favor of businesses that pay their monthly subscription. To find the most thoughtful and accurate reviews, skip past all the five-star ones and read the ones with four or three stars. Nobody’s perfect, so it’s worth checking to see what weaknesses a company might have before you make a decision.
Once you’ve narrowed the list down to a handful of duct cleaning companies, you can start making calls and getting estimates and consultations. A consultation is a great way to get an idea of how much work will need to be done and how much it’ll cost, but it’s also a chance for an interview of sorts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – any reputable contractor will be eager to answer any you might have and sell themselves to you. This is a chance for them to prove that they deserve your business, so come prepared with some questions. You should also be sure to get a written estimate from every company you call. If they won’t give you an estimate in writing, that should be considered a red flag. Remember that estimates aren’t contracts, so you can shop around and get a few before making a decision.
How to Hire the Best Air Duct Cleaners in Santa Rosa
Keeping up with regular air duct cleaning is one of the most important things you can do to both extend the lifespan of your air conditioner and make sure your air quality stays high. Dust mites, mold, and other contaminants can easily enter your house through the ducts if you don’t keep them clean, which can lead to problems for anyone in your household with respiratory sensitivities. It might be a bit of a pain since the whole process can take up to a couple of days, but it’s well worth the time – your air conditioner and your lungs will both thank you.
If you’re in Santa Rosa and you’re looking for an HVAC company to take care of your duct cleaning and more, you can run a Google search for “best air duct cleaners near me” or “best a/c service near me” or you can just give Valley Comfort Heating and Cooling a call. We’re the premiere choice for HVAC maintenance and duct cleaning in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin Counties, and we’re eager to earn your business and help out in any way we can.
If you’re interested in learning more about duct cleaning, or you’re ready to set up an appointment and get a no-strings-attached estimate, you can give Valley Comfort Heating & Air a call today at (707) 329-4120, get in touch with us here through our website, or just head to our location in Santa Rosa to talk to us directly. We’re confident we have the experience and customer service skills to take care of any problem you might have with your air conditioner, furnace, or the ducts in your house.