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The Mersey Heating and Air Conditioning Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Duct Cleaning: Toronto Edition

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Clean Ducts Keep Your Air Clean & Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Houses may come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: an HVAC system. Canadian winters are bitterly cold, and Toronto summers are scorching hot, so a functional and efficient heating and cooling system is a must-have. Preventative maintenance (including regular duct cleanings) is critical for ensuring that your system continues to work at peak performance.

A system that works at peak performance also requires less energy, saving you money on your heating bill and your air conditioning costs. Regular cleanings also extend the life of your system and improve your home’s indoor air quality.

The Anatomy of Your Duct System

Not every home HVAC system is configured exactly the same way, but they all share the same basic components. If your home also has a central air conditioner, this system will include additional equipment.

Forced Air Heating System

Your forced-air heating system has five main components:

  1. Air Handling Unit (AHU): This device is used to circulate (and help filter) the air in your home. It typically looks like a large metal box and contains the blower, the heating element, the cooling element (if you have air conditioning as well), the filter racks or chambers, sound attenuators, and dampers. This box typically connects to your ductwork.
  2. Air Supply Ducts: These long metal tubes are used to distribute warmed or cooled air to the other rooms in your house.
  3. Return Air Ducts: These are similar to the air supply ducts, but they move air from the rooms in your house to the AHU, where it can be heated or cooled.
  4. Filter: The filter’s main job is to remove dust and other impurities from the air in your home.
  5. Blower: The blower is a mechanical device used to create the current of air.

Air Conditioning

If your home has central air conditioning, your HVAC system will include additional components. These include:

  1. Evaporative coil: The evaporative coil sits on top of your furnace, and is essential for cooling the air in your home. The blower pushes air over the evaporative coil, causing the air that comes in contact with the cold coil to cool, sucking heat out of the air into the refrigerant.
  2. Refrigerant filling tube: This tube circulates the refrigerant between the outdoor condenser unit and the evaporator coil. This ensures that heat gathered by the evaporative coil is vented outside.
  3. Condenser coil: This portion of your air conditioning system is located outside your home, and is used to remove heat from the refrigerant fluid and vent it outside.
  4. Compressor: The compressor is located on the outdoor condenser unit, and is used to supply your unit with air at increased pressure.
  5. Fan: The fan creates a current of air, and helps circulate air inside your unit.

Why is Regular Duct Cleaning So Important?

Regular duct cleanings are important for a variety of reasons. Clean ductwork:

Improves Efficiency

When dust and other debris build up in your system, it narrows the passageways within your ducts and puts additional strain on your air filter. This means that your system needs to work harder to move the same volume of air through a smaller space, driving up your energy usage.

Reduces Your Energy Bill

A system with dirty or blocked ducts requires more energy to keep your house warm or cool. This means that it costs more money to run a system with dirty ducts than it does a system with clean ducts.

Extends Your System’s Life

Dust and other debris are pulled into your system from your home whenever your HVAC system is running. This debris not only collects in your ducts and clogs your filter, but it can also build up on other components within the system, reducing efficiency and increasing wear and tear.

Improves Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality

While your air filter can remove most dust, mold,  and other particles from the air, it can only do so much. When your ducts are dusty and dirty, the filter may not be able to handle the increased volume, which means that the air passing through your HVAC system may not be clean when it is pumped back into your home. 

Dust and other particulates that aren’t removed from the air can exacerbate the symptoms of any residents who are allergic to dust, mold, or animal dander, and impact your family’s respiratory health.

How Often Should I Have My Ducts Professionally Cleaned?

On average, most homeowners should have their ducts professionally cleaned every five years. A thorough duct cleaning will not only eliminate debris and remove harmful contaminants (including mold and allergens), it will also improve the efficiency of your system, extending its life and reducing your energy consumption.

If you or a family member is currently experiencing increased allergy symptoms, or have noticed an unpleasant smell coming from your air vents, a thorough and professional duct cleaning could help alleviate your symptoms and get rid of any musty or unpleasant odours.

Cleaning Your Ducts Between Professional Visits

It’s easy to clean your ducts on your own between professional visits. However, if you discover any problems, such as pests, mold, or excessive dust buildup, you should call in a professional for assistance. 

To clean your ducts, you will need:

  • A screwdriver (choose the style that matches the screws on your vent cover)
  • Household cleaner
  • Several clean cloths or rags
  • A bucket filled with warm, soapy water
  • A vacuum cleaner (preferably one with a HEPA filter)
  • A dust brush for your vacuum cleaner
  • Personal protective gear (including protective goggles, a face mask, and a pair of sturdy rubber gloves)
  • A microfiber cleaning cloth (optional)

How to clean your ducts:

  1. Turn off your HVAC system. Before you begin, make sure your HVAC system is powered off. This will ensure the system isn’t blowing dust or air at you while you are trying to clean.
  2. Remove the vent cover. One at a time, remove the wall vent covers in each room. Floor vents can often simply be lifted up, though wall vents typically need to be unscrewed.
  3. Clean the vent cover. Your vent cover will likely have dust and other debris on it and may feel greasy. You may be able to clean the vent cover with household cleaner and a cloth, but if the dust and debris are particularly stubborn, you may need to soak it in warm soapy water for a bit. Make sure each vent cover is completely dry before you put it back.
  4. Clean your vent register filters. Some vents are made with filters, which are designed to catch pet hair and other larger particles. If your vents have filters, you should remove them and clean them. If the filters are not reusable, you should replace them with fresh filters.
  5. Vacuum the inside of the vent. Attach the dust brush to your vacuum and slowly ease the nozzle as far into the vent as it will go. Vacuum up all visible dust and debris.
  6. Wipe the inside of the vent. Using a clean rag or a microfiber cleaning cloth and your household cleaner, thoroughly wipe the inside of the vent as far down as you can safely reach.
  7. Reattach the vent cover. Once your vent cover is thoroughly dry, carefully ease it back into place. If your vent cover is held in place by screws, make sure they are firmly screwed into place, but not screwed on so tight that you can’t remove them again easily.
  8. Clean your HVAC system’s filter. Now that you have cleaned your vents, it’s time to check your HVAC system’s filter. Reusable filters should be washed and dried according to the manufacturer’s instructions, while disposable filters should be replaced.

The Benefits of Professional Duct Cleaning

While a DIY approach to duct cleaning can help improve your home’s air quality, particularly for homes with pets that shed, there’s no substitute for a professional duct cleaning. A certified professional will not only use specialized equipment to clean your entire duct system (not just the spots you can reach on your own), they can also thoroughly inspect your HVAC system and look for signs of trouble.

A professional has both the knowledge and expertise to thoroughly assess the overall health of your HVAC system, and can alert you to dangerous and systemic problems such as mold or asbestos

Both mold and asbestos are incredibly dangerous for your respiratory health and require professional remediation.

How Much Does Duct Cleaning Cost?

How much it will cost to clean your ducts depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your home (and how many ducts you have) and how long it has been since your last duct cleaning.

To help you understand the cost of your duct cleaning before you commit, our certified technicians offer free in-home assessments.

Choosing the Right HVAC Company

It’s important to choose the right company to suit your needs. You need a certified technician who knows how to get the job done right and a company that treats you and your home with respect. At Mersey Heating and Cooling, your satisfaction is our top priority.

Our promise to you includes no hassles and no loopholes.

To help you ensure your entire HVAC system gets the regular care and maintenance it needs, and give you peace of mind, Mersey Heating and Cooling offers a variety of protection plans.

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Our technicians are NATE-certified, an industry-leading training organization.

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We’re ready to help – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.

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