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Cleaning Your Home Ventilation Ducts Effectively

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Dust in your home

Dust in your home

With a rise in allergies, people often suffer these their whole life and all because they have grown up in an air polluted environment. Children are at the highest risk, but adults can develop allergies too, and your life can be cut short by a number of months, or even years, from the deadliest of lung cancers, and breathing problems.

Normally you would need a high powered vacuum system, with massively long hoses. However, there is a method to clean the ducts yourself and save all the money that would have been spent outsourcing to a ventilation duct company.

Duct systems come in many different designs. There is the basement, and attic systems, however, whatever the type you have, the method of cleaning I will discuss is the same. You can still reach the main parts of the duct that have the most impact, even if you can’t reach every part of the duct. Don’t let that put you off though, you can still make a significant difference in the air quality by doing these steps, and cleaning the parts you can reach instead.

What Do I Need To Clean My Air Ducts?

There are a number of key essentials you will need to clean your ventilation ducts, which I will discuss, however, the most important first essential is the furnace filter.

Furnace Filter Types

The first thing you will need is a furnace filter. These come in a few different styles and price ranges. The most basic is a throwaway filter type, which is sometimes referred to as a mesh hairstyle too. If you don’t want to change your filter that often and your budget is around $30 for a year, then this is the one for you. It doesn’t stop the finer particles, so although it won’t catch as much dust as the other options, it needs to be changed much less.

The standard pleated filter comes in standard sizes, which are 1” to 3” and then deep pleat, which is 5” and 6”. These are much more effective than the mesh, however, will need to be changed every 1-2 months, as they are great for the price. These will normally cost you between $50 to $70 for a year if you are changing monthly, so even still, not that expensive in the scheme of things.

The media filter is the daddy of filters in terms of strength. The reason being, you can often hoover these between changes, they are very robust. They catch a lot of dust, and come in varieties of between 4” to 6”. They, however, can be tricky to replace, so check out the instructions on the box, as you are shopping around for them.

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Electronic air filter is the most service-intensive of all the types. Although there isn’t an ongoing cost associated with this filter, you may have to pay expensive service charges, and you also need the power to run these. So I would say they are not ideal in a home environment. They are more suited to commercial premises.

Everyday Items To Help

If you have a household vacuum cleaner that will be ok suction, you just have to make sure you have a nozzle brush that is heavy duty, which will brush between corners, and get to those hard to reach places. Preferably a Dyson or a commercial vacuum with a long hose is best.

Screwdriver or Hex key. The furnace is probably held on firmly with some kind of metal fasteners, so you will need to use some tools to remove them. For star-shaped screws, especially a Phillips screwdriver.

Duct Cleaning Step By Step

  1. Cover the supply registers with a pillow or cushion. You will probably need to wash them afterwards, so be prepared. However, just cover the registers completely so nothing can blow out easily.
  2. Turn the fan on. Make sure the fan is running while you are cleaning the ducts. You want to turn off the thermostat, so it's set to fan only. Most uptodate ventilation duct systems should have this option, if not, you should really upgrade your system.
  3. Break up any buildup of dust. Take a brush or mop, and bang any of the external ductwork. This is to just loosen any lodged dust clusters, and ensure that you capture as much dust as possible. Give this 20 minutes to settle before you proceed to the next step.
  4. Cleaning the supply registers. This is the fun part, turn on your vacuum, and attach the brush accessory, and push the hose as far into the piping as you can reach. You might want to wear a painters mask, as there will be lots of dust flying around, and just ensure you get as much dust into the vacuum as possible. Go around each Supply register, and remove the cushions or pillows you’ve placed on them as you do each one in turn.
  5. Clean the return air registers. Similar to the supply registers, but probably much bigger, remove any screws to get access to the duct, and vacuum away all that built up dust. Try to sweep as far back as you can with the hose, extended if possible.
  6. Turn off the fan and furnace. With the power down, you can lift the panels from the from of the furnace, and get access to the compartment inside. This is called the blower compartment, and again, use your vacuum and brush to sweep up as much dust as you can reach. You will find that the greatest build up of dust is in here.
  7. Replace the furnace filter. This is where you can replace your filter to a better one if you want. You may decide that just replacing your filter for a similar one is fine, as you might already have a supplier and this is fine too.

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