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How Homeowners Can Prevent Duct Contamination

March 6, 2018

Whether or not a homeowner decides to have the air ducts in their home professionally cleaned, committing to a good preventative maintenance program is essential to minimizing duct contamination.

To prevent dirt and debris from entering the system, the homeowner should:

  • use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of the heating and cooling system;

  • change the air filters regularly;

  • change the air filters more frequently if they become clogged;

  • be sure there are no filters missing, and that air cannot bypass the filters through gaps around the filter holder;

  • be sure to ask the service provider to clean the cooling coils and drain pans when having their heating and cooling system maintained or checked for other reasons;

  • during construction or renovation work that produces dust in the home, seal off supply and return registers, and do not operate the HVAC system until after the dust is cleaned up;

  • remove dust by vacuuming the home regularly. Use a high-efficiency (HEPA) vacuum cleaner or the highest-efficiency filter bags that the vacuum cleaner can use. Vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air, as well as inside the ducts, during and after vacuuming; and

  • be sure to operate and maintain the humidifier strictly as recommended by the manufacturer, if the heating system includes in-duct humidification equipment.




The Role of Moisture

Moisture should not be present in ductwork. Controlling moisture is the most effective way to prevent biological growth in air ducts. Moisture can enter the duct system through leaks, or if the system has been improperly installed or serviced. Research suggests that condensation (which occurs when the surface temperature is lower than the dew point temperature of the surrounding air) on or near the cooling coils of an air conditioning unit is a major factor in moisture contamination of the entire system. The presence of condensation or high relative humidity (RH) is an important indicator of the potential for mold growth on any ty