Do you smell mold when you start the furnace or see mold around your air ducts? Do you suffer from asthma or allergies and find yourself having a difficult time breathing in your house? Do you have many pets with lots of fur and dander flying? Before going for an air duct cleaning, you’ll have cleaned your house and consulted with your doctor for any health issues. It may be time 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 comprises the entire system. No doubt your home in San Mateo County, whether you live in South San Francisco, Daly City, San Mateo, Redwood City, or San Bruno, 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.
When Offers for Air Duct Cleaning in San Mateo County are Dangled Before You
As you work around your house in San Mateo County, whether you live in Daly City, South San Francisco, San Mateo, Redwood City, San Bruno, or Menlo Park, Foster City, or Burlingame, you may be wondering 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? 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. Do not respond to impractical claims that air duct cleaning provides huge health benefits. The research simply isn’t there to back up the claims
When does it make sense to clean your heating/cooling system? Any heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system that shows signs of mold should definitely be cleaned. You should also search for the sources that allowed the wet in to start the mold, since it will mold again until you address the root cause. You should also have your ducts cleaned if there are infestations of rodents or insects. 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.
Are you having a hard time deciding if you need a cleaning? One place to look for help is the company that installed your heating/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.
If you look at the all the elements 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, you will find advertisements for a teaser rate, then you find charges piled on so that you end up with a big bill. Avoid working with companies that offer very low rates. 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.
Another red flag is a company that wants to set up regular cleanings. Duct-cleaning frequency depends on who is living in the house and their habits and susceptibilities, 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 documented, 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 San Mateo County Air Ducts?
As you consider the air duct cleaning companies in South San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Redwood City, or San Mateo, you may come across competing claims about the efficacy of different tools, particularly the vacuum. The vacuum may be truck-mounted or may be portable. Some claim that truck-mounted vacuums are superior, but the trade association for air duct cleaners, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), 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 are usually more powerful, but a portable vacuum can be brought into enclosed spaces, closer to the job itself. If a portable vacuum is used and it exhausts into the house, it must have a HEPA filter to prevent particles from being released into the interior space. Your air duct cleaner may also have a use for handheld vacuums and wet vacuums, which should also have HEPA filtration.
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 ask how your air duct company will manage fiberglass materials. 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
The Training Needed to Clean Air Ducts in San Mateo County
The air duct cleaning company, no matter where it operates in San Mateo County, whether in South San Francisco, Daly City, San Mateo, San Bruno, Redwood City, Pacifica, East Palo Alto, or Burlingame, should have a license. To perform a proper cleaning, your air duct cleaner must have a C20 contractor’s license from the California Contractors State License Board. 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 includes the removal and cleaning the blower motor components, then reinstalling them. Since the blower motor is part of the HVAC system, the air duct cleaning company should be properly licensed to work on HVAC systems. The state of California mandates that contractors 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.
You may 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).
Looking for Responsible San Mateo County Air Duct Cleaning Companies
Look for an air duct cleaning company in San Mateo County, whether in San Bruno, Menlo Park, San Mateo, Foster City, Burlingame, South San Francisco, Daly City, Redwood City, Pacifica, or East Palo Alto, that behaves responsibly toward its customers. Like all contractors, air duct companies should expect you to take common sense steps. Ask two or three contractors for an estimate. Make sure the estimate is for your particular situation, not a general estimate.
Ask what licenses and certification the company has, as well as how long it has been in business. 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 is bonded. California requires that contractors be bonded. The company should have general liability insurance, though the state does not mandate it. 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 estimate covers those variables. Ask how the firm plans to protect any pets and the house during the cleaning process.
What are You Looking for From a San Mateo County Air Duct Cleaning Company?
Once you’ve decided to on an air duct cleaning, whether you are looking in South San Francisco, Daly City, San Mateo, San Bruno, or Redwood City, you should know what you setting yourself up for. First, the company should demonstrate safety awareness. Prior to any air duct cleaning, the company must look to see if asbestos is present. If it is, it must be handled according to the state guidelines. Be sure your air duct cleaning company has the proper tools. A vacuum alone is not enough, since tools such as brushes or blowguns should be used to agitate debris, in concert with the vacuum, which will pull the debris out of the heating or cooling system.
The company should be clear about all that it intends to do. These include both the supply and return air ductwork. The supply air ducts guide heated or cooled air to the rooms, while the return air duct guides 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 reassembled, leaving no oil or other dirt on the blades. The entire blower compartment should be 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.
What Place do Chemicals Have in My Air Duct Cleaning?
In some cases, chemicals are used to clean. For example, the evaporator coil may be cleaned using chemicals and water instead of vacuuming. Ask your technician if he or she will use a chemical to clean the coil.
In other cases, chemicals are used or recommended as preventatives against mold and bacteria. Be cautious about allowing the use of such chemicals. Realize that releasing them into the air in your home may cause reactions among the occupants. Chemical manufacturers must register the uses for their chemical with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The chemicals cannot be used for anything besides the registered use. There are only a small number of chemicals that are registered for preventing bacteria and mold. Any such chemical must be applied as described on the label or the chemical should not be applied. 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 that chemicals for preventing mold or bacteria 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.
Make sure you are using chemicals only when necessary. 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, 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. Chemicals to stop microbial growth should always be a last resort. Speak with your air duct cleaner to find out why 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.
Sometimes air duct companies tout sealants that are supposed to trap dust and particles and prevent them from being released into the air. In most cases, such sealants do not provide any value. First, they are often sprayed into the ducts, so that complete coverage is not possible. 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. The EPA, NADCA, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) do not typically recommend using sealants for trapping dust. You may encounter cases when sealants are appropriate. Some sealants 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.
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