Air Duct Cleaning

dirty - clean air duct
Please read the below write up I did on duct cleaning
But If you need your air ducts cleaned immediately I may not be able to help you. I am only doing air duct cleaning during my slow periods (usually Jan - March) and when air duct cleaning is part of a furnace or air conditioner installation. The reason for this is that I just don't make much money at it. I doubt I will make enough to pay for the cost of the duct cleaning machine before I wear it out. If you can wait a little bit, or I happen to be slow when you call, I will be happy to help you out.

Should I have my home's air ducts cleaned?
There has been a lot of hype (positive and negative) about air duct cleaning. It is like a lot of things, there is always a group of people that take it to the extremes. From my experience it is worthwhile having your air ducts cleaned if:

1) After new construction is done to the house. In a new house if the heating / cooling system was ran at all while the drywall work was being done, the ducts will be full of drywall dust. Even if your home is several years old, if the duct work has never been cleaned it is probably worth getting it done. The other time would be during remolding or adding an addition. If you have worked with drywall you know it gets everywhere, even if you try very hard to keep it contained.

2) Along those same lines if you bought a pre lived in house it would be worthwhile having the air ducts cleaned. You don't know if the ducts were ever cleaned and you don't know what the life style of the people in the house before you was. They may have had pets, never changed the furnace filter or just left the filter out altogether.

3) Every 5 years. This is my personal opinion from what I have seen in my own house. It seems like in about 5 years there is a good layer of dust in the duct work (especially the returns). I don't have pets in the house though nor does anyone have bad allergies in my home. I also have a high end electronic air cleaner. So your own home and your needs may be different. I have customers with allergies that swear it make a difference to have it done yearly.

We have seen air ducts as dirty as the ones pictured to the right. It is usually in older homes were it has never been done before.

Rotobrush machine Why should I have A Polar Bear Air clean my air ducts?
Unfortunately the air duct cleaning business is like the used car business in the range of quality and value. It sometimes gos to the extreme of out right fraud. You need to know and see what you are paying for, otherwise you may not get what you expect or be paying for nothing at all. There are several approaches to duct cleaning. One way is to use a large vacuum (usually it is left outside the house) that is connected to one of the supply registers. The ideal is to suck out all the dirt with a large amount of vacuum. Unfortunately it will only get some of the loose lighter dirt. Your home's air duct system is like a tree, it has a main trunk with many branches coming off the trunk. To hook up a vacuum on one of the branches is just not going to be effective no matter how strong the vacuum. It is like sucking on a straw full of holes. Another approach is like the first one except as the vacuum is running a brush is ran through each supply run to loosen the dirt. This is better but again you will only get the very light dirt that will travel the many feet to the source of the vacuum.

A Polar Bear Air does it the best way. We use the Rotobrush system. It is like a specialized shop vac for cleaning duct work. The suction hose is very long (to reach the ends of your duct work) with a rotating brush on the end of it. The reason it is better than the other methods is that it brushes the inside of the duct work and sucks the dirt up as it is brushing, at the point where it is brushing. It is just common sense this is the best way to do it. When you vacuum a floor you are doing the same thing. The vacuum brushes the floor and sucks up the dirt once it is loose. You do not try to stand many feet from the dirt source, turn the vacuum on and hope the dirt jumps from the floor to the vacuum. Even if you brush the dirt loose and try to vacuum it from a distance you will not have much more luck. But as you get that vacuum closer it will get the dirt. This is all very obvious but when you get your ducts cleaned you don't see what is happening so it is not obvious to the home owner. With A Polar Bear Air you do get to see the results. We use a special camera to look down the ductwork. We will keep running the brush / vacuum through the duct work until it looks good and clean.

Duct camera What does it cost to have the air ductwork cleaned?
A Polar Bear Air has straight forward pricing. To determine your cost, count all of your supply registers and return grills. The base price is $290 for up to 12. If you have more than 12 it is an extra $10 for each additional one. So a house with 10 supply registers and 5 return grills will cost $320.

How about the $49.95 duct cleaning adds I have seen?
If you look you will find some very cheap duct cleaning advertisements. Beware; there is no way even a small house's ductwork can be thoroughly cleaned for that price. It will be one of the less thorough approaches mentioned above or it is an outright scam, probably a bait and switch. Evan with the lesser approaches it would have to be a quick and dirty job (or lack of dirt cleaning job). I don't often watch DateLine (on NBC) but they did have a very interesting show on duct cleaning scams. The link to this video is:, . You will have to watch a commercial but it is worth the wait, note the remarks from the expert. Our price follows pretty close to what their expert mentions. For a ranch with around 15 grills / registers our price will be $320. This is a very reasonable price for the amount of work involved and the cost of the equipment. A small ranch will usually take about half of a day and the equipment involved cost about $10,000.

What to expect when we clean your air ducts:

1) We remove the register or grill and vacuum it

2) We look into the duct work with the special camera to see how dirty it is and what is involved

3) We run the Rotobrush through register or grill opening with the vacuum on and the brush rotating. We usually need to go back and forth several times reversing the brush each time.

Me duct cleaning 4) We check the duct work with the camera to make sure it is clean. If not we repeat the last step.

5) We replace the grill or register

6) We go to the next grill or register and do steps 1 through 5 for it

7) Once all of the supply and return runs are done we take the Rotobrush machine to the basement.

8) If there are no access openings in the main trunk we will cut access holes so the full main trunk can be cleaned.

9) Similar to steps 2 through 4 but with a larger brush and hose we clean the main trunk.

10) We place covers over the access holes

11) We clean the bottom of the return drop and the blower cabinet (area near air filter).

12) We spray a bacteriostat / fungistat / deodorizer in to the duct work as the furnace blower is running

An extra step would be if the furnace blower or air conditioner evaporator is extremely dirty. In that case it would need to be removed and cleaned. This is not part of the normal duct cleaning and would be an extra charge. It will usually cause more of a functional or efficiency problem with the air conditioning and in an extreme case the heating. So this would probably require a return visit with an air conditioner or furnace tune-up. That is why it is really important to keep your furnace air filter changed.

Rotobrush at work video:
Please watch the Rotobrush manufactures video of the above process. We stick pretty close to it except we do not usually wash the registers and grills with water. If you would like that done there would be a small extra cost.

Thank you
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions at all either shoot me an e-mail or give me a call. I would be happy to talk with you about it.

Bob Dorn
A Polar Bear Air

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