Are ducts and vents the same?

vents along ceiling

What do air ducts do?

A lot of people don’t consider North Carolina as a southern state, but it is one of the originals when it comes down to North vs South. As a southern state, it is also one of those that gets hot and humid in the summer, yet far enough north, the air duct system gets used during the winter too. 

How do air ducts have so much influence over the air quality and dust in your home? Air ducts are conduits that air conditioning, heating, and ventilation move through from the main of your HVAC system. The airflow that air ducts provide is to supply the air, return refreshed air, and pull out and exhaust used air. The air duct system ensures acceptable indoor air quality and establishes the thermal comfort we all enjoy and take for granted. 

Just like states further south or out west, the air duct for ac and heat need routine cleaning to keep homes healthy. Yet, it is sometimes amazing how many do not relate their allergies and sinus issues to a dirty air duct system in their home or workplace. 

Yet, they still ask, “Why does my house get so dusty?”, which we can give them several reasons why it is the air duct system to blame for much of that dust. 

  • Dirty, Leaky Air Ducts – The air ducts from your HVAC system run through attic, ceilings, crawlspaces, and walls. If at any spot along this run there is a small hole or an area that becomes unsealed, it is sucking in dirt and dust from that area and blowing it through the vents all over your house. If you are noticing excessive amounts of dust settling after the HVAC system has ran, you could have dirty air ducts or a leaking air duct system. Either way, a professional service can clean your air ducts, perform a pressure test and if there is a leak, make repairs or replace them as needed. 
  • Cheap, Dirty Air Filters – The first line of defense your HVAC system has is the air filter you change or clean every 30 days. If you use the cheaper brands, they won’t filter the dust like they should. The cheaper the filter, the larger the holes, allowing more dust to get through the air duct system and into your home. If you aren’t changing or cleaning the filters every 30 days, the filter gets clogged and forces dirty, dusty air into the air duct system. Then it passed on through the rest of your house. It is also making your HVAC system work harder! 
  • Invest in an Air Purifier – You may live in an area that is naturally dusty, like the desert, on a busy road or a road under construction. These are areas that put out more dust than normal and your HVAC system is sucking in that dust and blowing it into the air ducts through your home.  Other factors that can be causing a dusty house is your dusting method. Always start at the highest area and work down, then vacuum. A microfiber cloth is the best material to dust with because it traps dust better. While dusting, wipe down the walls too, and change or empty your vacuum cleaner filter frequently. Replace it with a HEPA filter if that option is available. 

Keep your indoor pets cleaned and combed to minimize the amount of pet dander and hair floats through you home. Keep cloth furniture cleaned and check for cracks and gaps around the doors and windows, correcting them as needed to keep dirt and dust from coming inside. 

What happens if you don’t clean your air ducts?

It becomes routine having your HVAC system checked by a professional along with the few homeowner duties you’re advised to perform. However, just because the forced air is coming through the vents doesn’t mean your air duct system is okay. 

Every two years, you should have your air duct system cleaned by a professional. This will ensure the integrity is durable and strong and keep them clean of the things that are known to collect in an air duct system. 

There are several different contaminants that collect in air ducts, with dust being at the top of the list. We’ve reviewed several things already that can cause this collection and what you can do about minimizing that collection. 

Then there is dirt collecting in the air ducts too. This is dirt that gets  tracked in from outside, enters around your doors and windows, etc., and all gets sucked up into the air ducts, the forced through your home. 

Dirty air ducts attract insects, pests, and vermin like roaches and mice. They eat, sleep, hatch, and their feces is sitting in your air dusts, blowing throughout your home. The stuff blowing across this in your air duct system are health hazards. 

Can you clean your own air ducts?

If you can learn to clean your home’s air ducts, it will save you money. However, hiring a professional that is trained and experienced on air duct cleaning, how is it done can save you headaches, time, and trouble. If money is tight though and your air ducts need cleaning, here are the 5 steps to get it done

  • Step One: Prepare For The Task – Gather your equipment and supplies, including a small ladder or step-stool, a flathead and Philip head screwdrivers. Turn the thermostat off so the HVAC system doesn’t come on while you’re working. 
  • Step Two: Remove and Clean  the Vent Covers – Vacuum the vent first to remove immediate layer of dust. Then remove the cover and wash in hot soapy water, scrubbing as needed, then rinse and set aside to dry. 
  • Step Three: Clean the Inside of the Duct – As the vent covers dry, insert a dryer vent brush into each duct where you removed the covers and rotate as you gently run it along the walls of the air duct. Now remove the brush and attach the flexible hose and insert into the air duct to suck out any loose debris. 
  • Step Four: Remove Residue – With a clean damp microfiber cloth, reach into the air duct as far as possible and wipe out any residue that you can reach, rinsing the rag and repeat the process several times. You can use an all-purpose cleanser to get stubborn areas. 
  • Step Five: Finishing Up – With a clean, damp rag, wipe around the air duct and return the cover, turn the HVAC system back on, and you’re done! 
inside a used duct system

Is air duct cleaning really worth it?

There isn’t sufficient information and knowledge about air duct cleaning, so the EPA won’t recommend it or against it either.  You pretty much have to make your own decision based on the condition of your home and consider why you think your air vents need cleaning. 

Air duct cleaning is ridding your home of dirt, dust, and the nastiness we’ve mentioned earlier. From one perspective, that can’t be a bad thing, right?  If it helps your family breathe easier and there is less dirt and dust in your home with routine cleaning, that can’t hurt either? 

What do you do when your air duct is leaking water? This could be something more than what an air duct cleaning can fix. It isn’t unusual for condensation to form inside or outside of the air ducts, especially if they aren’t insulated well. 

If you notice condensation on the vents, check the air filter and change it or clean it. If that doesn’t stop the condensation, then call your HVAC professional. There could be something more serious or it may be nothing more than your air duct system needs a thorough cleaning. Call 704-964-8375 today for air duct cleaning in Charlotte, NC.