It's easy to forget about air ducts. Since they are inside your walls and out of sight, they are frequently overlooked. But air duct cleaning is a critical part of maintaining a working HVAC system. Dirty air ducts can make your heating and cooling system less efficient. If your air ducts stay dirty for too long, they could wear your HVAC system out and ultimately break it.
But even worse, dirty air ducts can endanger your health and wellbeing. Keep reading for 12 signs that your air duct needs cleaning.
1. Dusty Grills
The "grill" is your window into an air duct from the wall. Your HVAC system will blow cool or hot air through these vents and into the rooms of your house.
Dust on your grill is a telltale sign that the interior of the duct needs cleaning. This is because dust is being blown through the inside of the duct and getting caught in the grill.
Seeing a little bit of dust on the grill isn't a cause to worry about, but it is a good idea to wipe down the grill. A dusty grill serves as a reminder to schedule a routine cleaning for your air ducts.
Mold or mildew is a sure sign that it is time for an AC cleaning. It's common for condensation to build up in your HVAC system. This can manifest as mold growing near the grill of the air duct.
But it can also result in mold starting to grow in different parts of the house. If you have a moldy air duct, your HVAC system is blowing those spores all over your house. If you're having trouble keeping mold away inside your home, you should call an HVAC technician to help clean your air ducts.
If you think you may have mold growing in your air ducts, call someone immediately. Mold spores in the air can cause serious health problems.
3. Allergies Are Worse Than Usual
Have you noticed that your allergies are worse than usual? This could be because you have dirty air ducts. Your HVAC system is blowing hot or cold air through the house and carrying unclean particles with it.
You could be ingesting dust, mold, or other particles that are causing your allergies to worsen. If you think you are experiencing an allergic reaction to something, be sure to check the air ducts. They may be the culprit.
Cleaning your air ducts should be your first solution. For additional help, consider investing in an air purifier to help with indoor pollution.
4. High Energy Bill
A high energy bill may be a sign that you need to clean your air ducts. When air ducts get dirty, your HVAC system has to work harder to function. This means that it takes more energy than usual to perform its task.
Extra observant people may notice their HVAC system start-up more frequently than usual. But most of us don't see the effects of a dirty air duct until faced with the energy bill. If it seems higher than it should be, you should have your air ducts cleaned as soon as possible.
Of course, don't forget to check with your energy company to make sure their rates didn't go up. Learn how you can save money on your energy bill.
5. Poor Respiratory Health
Do you feel like you always have a cold? Do you have a cough that won't go away? This can be a direct indication that you need to clean your air ducts.
As was mentioned before, your HVAC system will blow air into your house. That air will carry with it anything it picks up in your air ducts. This can include mold, dust, and other harmful particles.
Call an HVAC technician before the effects on your health become severe. A cough or cold may not seem like a big deal, but being constantly sick can do long-term damage to your body. Additionally, exposure to harmful air particles can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and make them worse.
6. Poor Air Flow
HVAC systems don't just heat or cool your home. They also provide air circulation. Keeping the air moving and preventing stale air is an important part of your HVAC's function.
But when you have dirty air ducts, you may notice that you aren't getting the same quality of airflow that you are used to. This is because accumulated grime in your air duct is literally blocking the air from getting through.
Check out the grills on your air ducts. Wipe them down to get rid of excess grime. And then call an expert to help you clean the inside of the air ducts.
7. Insect Infestation
If you have an insect infestation in your house, you will know it. Insect infestations are both pervasive and annoying. But what you may not know is where the infestation is coming from.
If you have an infestation, it's time to clean out your air ducts. Chances are, at least part of the infestation is occurring within your walls. Call an expert right away.
And remember that even though insects are small, they can do significant damage to your house. The sooner you deal with them, the better.
8. Rat Infestation
What's worse than an insect infestation? A rodent infestation.
Similar to insects, rodents like to crawl around within your walls and cupboards. If you have a mouse or rat infestation, it's a good idea to clean out your air ducts.
And if you have recently resolved an infestation, having your air ducts cleaned is still recommended. If a rodent dies within your air duct, it can cause bad smells and other problems.
9. HVAC Takes Longer Than It Used to
A good HVAC system can cool your house down quickly in the summer and heat it just as rapidly in the winter. But if you notice your HVAC starting to take longer and longer, it may mean that you have dirty air ducts.
This is because there is so much dust or grime in the air duct that your HVAC must work extra hard to do its job. You'll notice the HVAC taking longer and starting up more frequently. And as we mentioned earlier, all of this extra energy is going to make an appearance in your monthly bills.
10. Musty Smells
If you notice that you can't rid your house of a certain musty smell, it could be due to dirty air ducts. Next time your HVAC system starts up, pay attention to whether the smell gets stronger.
Musty smells can be caused by dust being burned by the heat of the HVAC. If you've allowed for dust or grime to build up in your air ducts, you may be smelling it as it burns. This is a clear signal to clean your air ducts as soon as possible.
Clean your air ducts, and then follow these steps to renew the presence of good smells in your home.
11. Perpetually Dirty Home
Do dust and dirt seem to settle on surfaces around your home no matter what you do? Of course, some dust build-up is natural. But if you are experiencing a constant layer of dustiness in your home, it is time to clean your air ducts.
Your HVAC system will blow whatever is in your air ducts out into your home. Instead of constantly scrubbing the surfaces of your house, have a professional clean your air ducts and solve the problem once and for all.
12. If It Has Been a While
The last indicator that you may need to clean your air ducts is simply whether or not it has been a while. Committing to routine HVAC maintenance for your HVAC and air ducts is the best way to prevent any issues from occurring. An experienced technician will keep your air ducts in excellent condition, protecting you, your family, and your home.
For best results, have a professional check out your HVAC and air ducts every 3-5 years. If you call someone before there is actually an issue, you can minimize the number of problems that come up in the first place.
Always Prioritize Air Duct Cleaning
Air duct cleaning should be a part of everyone's routine maintenance regimen. Keeping your air ducts clean will keep your energy expenses low and your home in good condition. Most importantly, maintaining clean air ducts is a good way to protect your family and keep them healthy.
Our team at Crystal Heating and Cooling has been servicing HVAC units in the St. Louis area since 1965. Our staff can help you keep your air ducts clean and so much more. Learn about getting a Maintenance Plan for your HVAC system. Want to request air duct cleaning for your home? Request a free service stimate here.
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