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Question DetailsAsked on 2/8/2014

How do i know if i need air duct cleaning in my house?

We moved to this single family home 2 years ago. This house was built in 1997. Previous owner remodeled floor and kitchen in 2007 so everything looks pretty new. My husband frequently fall sick due to allergies and i am not sure if it is due to air ducts. Is there any way to find out if air ducts needs cleaning?How often should we get air ducts cleaned for house built in 1997.

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3 Answers


Coundn't hurt in this case if you don't know how the home was treated and cleaned previously.

I would also ask about air sealing and insulation as well as duct "AeroSealing".

Both of these will keep more of the unconditioned (outside) air out of the home and more effectively filter and clean the air.

Answered 6 years ago by WoWHomeSolutions


Can you pull a register and peer into the duct line?

Answered 6 years ago by Davidhughes


You can find a lot of comments on air duct cleaning in the Home > Air Duct Cleaning link right under your question.

Basically, unless you have active mildew or mold growth in the ducts, which generally only occurs in ducts used with air conditioning causing condensation in them, ducts can generally go 10-20 or more years before the dust buildup is enough to affect the ventilation system. Generally speaking, ducts accumulate dust not release it, except when someone thumps on them (like during construction) or right after a significant earthquake or very heavy winds like a tornado or hurricane.

Of course, the better you maintain the furnace filters and make sure the air cannot bypass the filter, the less dust buildup in the ducts.

If it was me, assuming the illness issue is not due to asthma or bronchitis or such and hence potentially critical to his health, I (as the person with the allergy) would do a test - kneel or sit right down in front of the vent, or sit in an easy chair right in front of it, for at least 15 minutes (or until symptoms start in earnest) right after turning the thermostat up 10 degrees or more so the heater kicks on and runs for a good long time. Assuming the illness situation is controllable with contact or Zyrtec or such, if this causes a rapid negative response then time to clean ducts - preferably when he can be away from the house for at least 6 hours afterwards while it is aired out - maybe 12-24 hours if significant reaction. If no significant reaction, then you would know that is probably not it. My guess, having hay fever and pollen and perfume and some dusts and such allergies myself, is if it is not almost a continuous allergy situation, dust from the HVAC system is not the cause, because if it was it would be dosing him and causing reaction every day.

My recommendation - take a bright (6V lantern type best) and a mirror, remove a couple of incoming duct grills, and look inside at the duct to see if it has a heavy buildup - that should tell you if you have a significant issue or not.

Also, if you have an air conditioner evaporator in your duct system (looks basically like a radiator, usually a foot or two after the furnace and filter in the duct), take a look at it for dust and mold buildup - that might need cleaning and disinfecting, and mold from an A/C evaporator CAN cause allergic reactions - though obviously would die off pretty fast after the end of A/C season till the next spring/summer.

One thought for him - obviously do not contradict any meds he is on. I went years getting limited and generally short-term (far less than dosage cycle) relief from Contact, Zyrtec, Claritin, Benadryl, etc - then one time tried a generic allergy pill from WalMart under the Equate brandname with this as active ingredient - diphenhydramine hydrochloride. Instant relief (in less than 10 minutes) against all allergens except a few very strong perfumes - a world of difference. Obviously, read warnings and discuss with doctor, but I have talked to a number of friends and neighbors with allergies, and several have found the same thing - a slingly different active ingredient can make all the difference between only slight or only short-term relief, and total abatement of symptoms.
Since his allergic reaction are only sporadic, assuming not the same time of year every year (which wold probably indicate pollens or outdoor molds and such), perhaps he should start a calendar noting when allergic reactions start and end, and also noting everything eaten that day - he might find a food allergy correllation. Also note no an arbitrary scale of maybe 1-5 or 1-10 how windy it was - that could correllate to pollen or road dust or even disturbed attic dust allergens. Does take months of recording to make the correllation in milder cases, but commonly works wonders with people with unknown food allergies, to tie down if it is fish, dairy, gluten, spices, eggs, etc - of course, the milder the allergy, the longer it takes to tie it down. And food allergies can masquerade as other types of allergies - basically - unless it is the classic sneezing stuffy nose variety which is normally associated with dusts and pollens and such, could be food allergy.

Good Luck - he (and you as the suffering spouse) have my sympathy.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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