Do you see or smell mold in your air ducts or when you turn on the furnace? Do you suffer from asthma or allergies and find yourself having a difficult time breathing in your house? Or you have many pets with lots of fur and dander flying. You’ve taken all the steps and tried everything from vacuuming to cleaning to air filters to working with your doctor. You might want to consider an air duct cleaning. Air duct cleaning cleans your heating and/or cooling system – from the coils to the ductwork that runs throughout your home to the registers and grilles that send air to and from the heating or cooling source. A proper air duct cleaning addresses the entire system.
No doubt your home in Marin County, whether you live in San Anselmo, San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, or Larkspur, has been bombarded with coupons. No matter where you are looking, you want to be sure you are getting a complete cleaning from a qualified firm. Use the information below to help you decide on the best air duct cleaning company for you.
What About These Offers for Air Duct Cleaning in Marin County?
Look at the flyer you’ve just received. It offers really cheap air duct cleaning that will change your life. As usual, your sound common sense lets you realize that what’s too good to be true is probably not true. As you move around your house in Marin County, whether you live in San Rafael, San Anselmo, Novato, Mill Valley, Larkspur, or Sausalito, Fairfax, or Belvedere, you may be thinking about what an air duct cleaning will actually do for you. You’ve heard about concerns about indoor air quality –pollutants that can build up to greater concentrations indoors than in the outdoors. When you have asthma sufferers or allergies, or have lots of pets, you may be even more aware of air quality. Will cleaning your air ducts help resolve the problems?
Do not work with a company that says that cleaning the air ducts will dramatically improve your health. The research simply isn’t there to back up the claims. Air duct cleaning can make sense in that air ducts and your heating/cooling system send air through your home. That air may have dust or other particles in it, and those particles may accumulate over time. So it makes sense to clean those areas once in a while, if you decide to.
Of course, if your heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system shows signs of mold, you should definitely have it cleaned. You should also search for the sources that allowed the wet in to start the mold, since it will merely mold again until you address the root cause. You should also have your ducts cleaned if rodents or insects are infesting them. And if you can see that dust or other material is clogging the ducts or dust actually gets spit out the registers, you are a good candidate for air duct cleaning.
If you are not sure if you need a cleaning, one good point of reference comes from the people who installed your heating or cooling system. They may be able to help you understand how sealed or unsealed your system is, and where possible contamination may enter. You can, of course, also ask an air duct cleaning company. The air duct cleaning company should be professional and responsible, but you must take care, since of course they also want to sell you something.
Very low rates are a big red flag. If you look at the all the components that must be cleaned in a complete service, you will see that it is no small job. In addition, the company has overhead for the proper equipment, including the vacuum systems. Often, the company advertises a teaser rate, then the company piles on charges on so that you end up with a big bill. As far back as 1996, the EPA estimated that a good air duct cleaning job costs between $450 and $1,000. Look for an air duct cleaning company that will provide a reasonable estimate, taking into account the size of your house and ductwork, access to the heating/cooling coils, and the entire system.
Avoid a company that pressures you to set up a regular air duct cleaning schedule. The frequency with which you decide to clean your ducts depends on who is living in the house, what animals are present, whether there is a change in conditions, such as a sudden increase in rain and subsequent water damage followed by mold, and similar variables. Since the absolute benefits of getting an air duct cleaning are not yet completely understood, you should have it done only as needed. A good air duct cleaning company will understand this and not try to lure you in annual contracts. Air duct companies themselves estimate that a cleaning lasts between three to seven years. This very wide range that makes setting up a schedule less than helpful. Also, if you have the misfortune to encounter a poorly trained technician, your heating and cooling system runs the risk of damage.
What Tools Are Used to Clean Your Marin County Air Ducts?
Once you are looking for a good air duct cleaner in San Anselmo, San Rafael, Larkspur, Mill Valley, or Novato, make sure your air duct cleaner has the proper tools to complete the job. Such tools include a vacuum to remove particles from the air ducts. The vacuum may be truck-mounted or may be portable. While some companies may claim their truck-mounted vacuums are superior, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the trade association for air duct cleaners, says that if the trade association’s standards are followed, either a truck-mounted or a portable vacuum will do the job effectively. Truck-mounted vacuums do tend to be more powerful, but a portable vacuum can be brought into enclosed spaces, closer to the ductwork itself. If a portable vacuum is used and it exhausts into the house, it must have a HEPA filter to prevent particles from entering the interior space. Your air duct cleaner may also have a use for handheld vacuums and wet vacuums, which should also have HEPA filtration.
Your air duct cleaner might also need tools to cut into ductwork for better access. Inspection tools might include mirrors, a camera or closed-circuit television, or a periscope. Brushes are used to agitate the equipment and loosen dust. Some air duct cleaning companies may also use an air whip, an air gun, or a blowgun to loosen and move debris. However, fiberglass components can be damaged by these aggressive tools, so care is needed.
The Right Training to Clean Air Ducts in Marin County
Training is an important issue when it comes to air duct cleaners, no matter where they operate in Marin County, whether in San Anselmo, San Rafael, Novato, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Tiburon, or Belvedere. To perform a proper cleaning, your air duct cleaner should have a C20 contractor’s license from the California Contractors State License Board. This is because the C20 license is granted to those who build, maintain, and repair heating, air conditioning, and ventilation equipment. In a proper air duct cleaning, the cleaning requires removing and cleaning the blower motor components, then putting them back. Since the blower motor is part of the HVAC system, the air duct cleaning company should be properly licensed. California contractors are required to include their license number in any advertising. You will notice that many air duct cleaning companies do not have a license. You should ask them why not and what components they include in the air duct cleaning service that they provide.
Besides looking for the state license, you want to look for air duct cleaning companies that belong to the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA). Members of the association will perform work to the association’s defined standards and adhere to their ethics commitments. The companies also pledge to hire at least one certified Air Systems Cleaning Specialist (ASCS).
Showing the Professionalism to Clean Air Ducts in Marin County
When you hire your air duct cleaning company in Marin County, whether in Larkspur, Sausalito, Novato, Fairfax, Belvedere, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, or Tiburon, you should use the common sense you usually use to hire a contractor. Ask two or three contractors for an estimate. Make sure the estimate is for your particular house, not a general estimate. Ask how long the company has been in business, as well as what licenses and certifications it has. California requires any company with employees to have workers compensation insurance, so check that the company has it, so that you are protected if a worker is hurt on your property. Also check that the air duct cleaning company has general liability insurance and is bonded. California requires that its contractors be bonded. Ask for a written agreement before work is started. Ask how long the job may take and how many people it may require and make sure any quote covers those variables. Ask how the firm plans to protect any pets and the house during the cleaning process.
What Do I Expect From a Marin County Air Duct Cleaning Company
Before you look for your ideal air duct cleaning company, whether in San Anselmo, San Rafael, Novato, Larkspur, or Mill Valley, you should know what to expect from a proper cleaning. Before beginning any air duct cleaning, the company must look to see if asbestos is present. If it is, it must be handled according to regulations.
Some of the main task will consist of removing dust and particles. An air duct cleaner should use tools, such as brushes or blowguns, to agitate debris, in concert with a vacuum that will pull the debris out of the heating or cooling system. Both the supply and return air ductwork should be included. The supply air ducts supply heated or cooled air to the rooms, while the return air duct takes air back to the heating or cooling devices, usually a coil. The supply registers, return air grilles, and any diffusers should be removed, cleaned, and replaced. The supply and return plenums need cleaning. Check especially for moisture on the supply plenum, which can lead to mold. The supply plenum sometimes gets damp if condensation from the coil is not properly drained. The plenums are boxes that are close to the coil for the heating or cooling device and connect to the rest of the ductwork that travels throughout the house.
Be sure that the heat exchanger’s air-stream side gets cleaned, as well as the secondary heat exchanger. The blower motor and its housing and assembly should be removed, cleaned, and put back, leaving no oil or other dirt on the blades and the blower compartment clean. The evaporator coil, drain, and pan should all be clean, and the coils should not be damaged or pushed together after the cleaning. Any air filters should be replaced with filters that match those recommended by the heating/cooling system’s manufacturer. The air cleaner should also be washed.
Why Would My Air Duct Cleaner Recommend a Chemical?
Chemicals come into play if they are used to clean or recommended to prevent mold and bacteria growth. In the case of using chemicals to clean, the evaporator coil may be cleaned using chemicals and water instead of vacuuming.
To prevent bacteria and fungus growth, some air duct cleaners may recommend a chemical. You must be extremely careful about allowing the use of such chemicals. Releasing them into the air in your home may cause reaction problems for the occupants. Any such chemicals must be registered for specific uses with the EPA, and they cannot be used for anything besides the registered use. There are a small number of chemicals that are registered for preventing bacteria and mold. Any such chemical must be applied as described on its label. For example, if the label requires rinsing with water, it should not be used, since it is not a good idea to introduce water into your ductwork. Note particularly that these chemicals are only for use on bare sheet metal. Much ductwork today includes fiberglass duct board, or is flexduct, which includes fiberglass, or is a metal pipe lined with fiberglass. In any case where fiberglass is involved, the material should be replaced if it has mold or other contamination, since there are not products approved to clean fiberglass.
If you decide to use chemicals, be cautious and safe. First ask the air duct cleaner to show you the mold or other microbial growth. Not everything that looks like mold is mold. If your air duct cleaner shows you material from inside your ducts and claims that it is mold, you should get it checked by a laboratory to prove that it is mold. The chemical should be shown to you, so that you can verify that it is approved for use in your situation. Always use chemicals to kill microbes as a last result. Speak with your air duct cleaner to find out if he or she cannot simply remove the existing growth and then address the source of the problem – for example, improper evaporation drainage – to prevent it from returning.
You may find yourself receiving a suggestion that you use a sealant. You might find yourself being sold a sealant that will prevent particles and dust from breaking free into the air. In most cases, these sealants do not provide any value. First, they are often sprayed into the ducts, so that complete coverage is not achieved. In addition, a sealant may harm ducts built from fiberglass, reducing their ability to reduce noise and possibly even harming their fire retardation abilities and voiding the manufacturer’s warranty. Sealants for preventing dust from escaping are in general not recommended by the EPA, NADCA, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), or the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).
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There are other kinds of sealants that may be appropriate when repairing damaged fiberglass insulation or fire damage in the ducts. A sealant should never be applied on top of wet, dirt, mold, or the like.