A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes placed in the drum are then dried by the moving hot air. It is possible for a full load of wet clothes to contain as much as one and a half gallons of water from a typical load of laundry. Lint is created from the clothes as the water is removed and the clothes dry. Overtime as air passes through this exhaust line the lint collects in the screws, bends and elbows and walls of the air duct.
Inspect the Type of Air Duct Attached to the Dryer
Most manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, which provides maximum airflow. Flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow. Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct.
Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually. Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire in some dryers.
Air Flow Restriction
New construction trends now situate washers and dryers in nontraditional areas of the house, such as upstairs bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, and closets. These new sites generally require longer dryer vents, and a higher probability for air flow restriction.
Dryer Vent Maintenance and Safety Tips
Proper maintenance for clothes dryers involves removing the lint from the traps, vents, and surrounding areas of the dryer.
- Never operate your clothes dryer when you are not home or while you are sleeping.
- Clean your lint trap before or after every use.
- Install a proper screen to the outside exhaust to prevent animals from entering the dryer vent.
- Do not push your dryer too close to the wall as it may cause crimps or bends in the air duct.
- Periodically have the dryer vent professionally cleaned.
Finding a reputable air duct cleaning service is important if you want the job done right and your home respected during the cleaning process. Here are a few tips to finding a quality cleaner in your area.
Before hiring any company to clean your air ducts, ask questions and listen to the answers. Look for knowledgeable answers, not a sales pitch. Ask questions like…
- How long they’ve been in business?
- Why air ducts need cleaning?
- Are the employees screened for criminal background?
- How long does the cleaning process take?
- What is required of you the day of the cleaning?
- Do you carry workman’s compensation and liability insurance?
- Are services are guaranteed?
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association is a group that sets standards for service and certifies air duct cleaners. This online source offers recommendations and tips for consumers on how to hire cleaners. Included is a checklist to ensure the technicians perform all the tasks necessary for a thorough cleaning. This is an excellent place for consumers to gain knowledge, find recommendations, and learn the basics about air duct cleaning.
Ask for Referrals
Ask neighbors or local businesses who they have hired to clean their air ducts. Call your HVAC contractor to ask them who they recommend, installing heating and air conditioning systems; they will know who performs quality workmanship. There are numerous online consumer advocacy websites, check for online air duct cleaning reviews.
Check with the BBB
Check with the Better Business Bureau or other agency to see if complaints have been filed against the company. If the company has no complaints, good references, and a knowledgeable staff then they will likely provide a quality service to you.
The EPA offers consumers advice about when to get their air ducts clean, how to choose a provider, and qualities to avoid in providers. The EPA does not certify air duct cleaners, so the consumer is responsible for conducting their own research.
What is Air Duct Cleaning?
Duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.
How do Air Ducts Become Dirty?
If not properly installed, maintained, and operated, HVAC components may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. If moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased and spores from such growth may be released into the home’s living space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people if they are exposed to them.
What to expect from an Air Duct Cleaning Service Provider
If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, it important to make sure the service provider agrees to clean all components of the system and is qualified to do so.
- Open access ports or doors to allow the entire system to be cleaned and inspected.
- Inspect the system before cleaning to be sure that there are no asbestos-containing materials (e.g., insulation, register boots, etc.) in the heating and cooling system. Asbestos-containing materials require specialized procedures and should not be disturbed or removed except by specially trained and equipped contractors.
- Use vacuum equipment that exhausts particles outside of the home or use only high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) vacuuming equipment if the vacuum exhausts inside the home.
- Protect carpet and household furnishings during cleaning.
- Use well-controlled brushing of duct surfaces in conjunction with contact vacuum cleaning to dislodge dust and other particles.
- Use only soft-bristled brushes for fiberglass duct board and sheet metal ducts internally lined with fiberglass. (Although flex duct can also be cleaned using soft-bristled brushes, it can be more economical to simply replace accessible flex duct.)
- Take care to protect the duct work, including sealing and re-insulating any access holes the service provider may have made or used so they are airtight.
- Follow NADCA’s standards for air duct cleaning and NAIMA’s recommended practice for ducts containing fiber glass lining or constructed of fiber glass duct board.
Air conditioning units require regular maintenance to keep them working at an optimal level. Follow these guidelines to ensure your air conditioner is working efficiently.
Conduct Regular Maintenance
Hire a professional HVAC person to regularly inspect your air conditioning system. Make any necessary repairs in a timely manner. The longer you put off repairs, the more expensive they can become.
A typical air conditioner service will:
- Check for proper refrigerant (freon) levels.
- Check all electrical components and controls.
- Clean evaporator and condenser coils.
- Oil motors as needed.
- Calibrate thermostat.
- Check filters.
Routinely check and replace filters. Use the highest rated filter recommended by the manufacturer and make sure to install it properly. There should be no gaps or leaks around the edge of the filter.
Use a Good Thermostat
Control indoor air temperature with a good thermostat. A good thermostat can operate air conditioner to a lower setting saving energy while you are at work, or while sleeping.
Keep Air Ducts Clean
Have your air duct cleaned every three to five years. Excessive build up of dust and debris in air ducts can cause blocked or limited airflow, reducing the effectiveness of the air conditioner.
To keep your heating bills low, you need to keep your furnace running efficiently. Here are 5 tips to keep your furnace working at peak performance.
Before Winter, Have Furnace Inspected
Before the first use, have the have the furnace inspected by a professional HVAC contractor. The furnace contractor will inspect the furnace to make sure that the furnace is operating safely and efficiently.
Replace the furnace filter every 2 months that the system is in use. Clogged air filters make it difficult to for the furnace to draw air. Furnace filters protect the furnace components from dirt which will cause damage to furnace components and dramatically decrease energy efficiency.
De-Clutter the Furnace Area
Keep the area around the furnace clean and clear of clutter. This reduces fire hazard and makes sure the furnace can get all the air it needs for proper combustion.
Use Your Thermostat Properly
If your thermostat is set at a constant temperature, consider setting the thermostat a few degrees cooler at night while you are sleeping, and during the day when you are at work. Setting your thermostat properly will dramatically reduce your furnace bill.
Keep Your Air Ducts Clean
Nine out of ten HVAC failures are due to dirt and debris accumulation. Keeping your air ducts clean will reduce the impact of debris build up on the furnace filter and HVAC components. Have the air ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years.
Keeping air ducts clean can help keep indoor air quality healthy. Follow these simple tips to reduce dust and other build up in your air ducts.
Change Furnace Filters
Routine air filter maintenance is the most effective means of keeping your air ducts clean. Proper selection, routine exchange, and the proper fit of you furnace filter will dramatically extend the longevity of your air duct cleaning.
Perform An Air Duct Inspection
After the cleaning has been performed conduct an air duct inspection. Thoroughly look over your air ducts for any evidence of leaks, damage, or gaps. It is important that air is not drawn or delivered to unintended areas. Most gaps can be sealed with a caulking gun and air duct sealant purchased from your local hardware store. If the gap or damage is too large, contact an HVAC contractor.
Perform Routine HVAC Maintenance
Contract an HVAC contractor to provide routine maintenance on your heating and cooling system. Routine maintenance will ensure that your system is running at its peak efficiency, and will prevent debris caused from mechanical neglect.
Limit Dust Indoors
The best way to limit dust in indoor air is to reduce the amount of dust you have indoors. Dust hard surfaces frequently. Use a vacuum cleaner with a good filter and weekly vacuum all carpets and fabric furniture. Wash bedding, pets, and pet bedding, every week. Limit indoor activities that create dust and never smoke indoors.