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Air Duct and Chimney Commonly Asked Questions and Answers

Air Duct Cleaning
1. Are there any health benefits that come from HVAC system cleaning?
Heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust and debris.

2. Will HVAC system cleaning reduce our home’s energy bills?
Research by the U.S. EPA has demonstrated that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
3. How should a residential HVAC system be cleaned?
The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ source-removal methods of cleaning. This requires a contractor to place equipment into the system to make contact with the debris and remove them with a specialized, powerful vacuum. While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces. The debris can then travel through the ducts to the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home.
4. How often should residential HVAC systems be cleaned?
Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the homeowner. Industry standard is every two years. Some of the things that may lead a homeowner to consider more frequent cleaning include smokers in the home; pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander; water or soot contamination; and acute forms of allergies or asthma.
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Chimney Cleaning
1. What is the necessity of fireplace/chimney cleaning?
Cleaning your fireplace and its flue and chimney area is necessary to maintain the integrity of the materials and reduce the risk of fire hazards. Proper and regular cleaning allows the proper draft to remove the smoke and gas by removing any soot or ash buildup, as well as removing any debris, such as leaves or animal nests. It also helps reduce the risk of creosote buildup, which is the unburnt residue of wood found in smoke that accumulates inside stoves and flues. Its buildup creates a fire hazard because it's highly flammable.
2. How should my fireplace/chimney be cleaned?
In most cases, a chimney/flue will be cleaned from inside the home from the fireplace or stove. A special brush is inserted into the flue and rotated as it is sent to the top of the chimney, knocking off any buildup of ash, debris or creosote. A vacuum is then used to remove the debris from the home. A proper cleaning should include the cleaning of the firebox, damper, smoke shelf, smoke chamber and flue all the way to the top of the chimney.
3. How often should my chimney be cleaned?
If you burn hardwoods, such as oak or dried woods, you should have your chimney cleaned and inspected at the beginning of each burning season. You may need additional cleanings if used on a regular basis as a heat source. If you burn softwoods, such as pine or green woods, you should have your chimney cleaned after burning a truckload of wood. These soft woods create more ash and soot, which cause a buildup of creosote.
4. What other things are needed to help maintain a safe chimney?
Industry standards recommend the use of a chimney cap and sealed dampers to help prevent the breakdown of fireplaces and chimneys. Chimney caps will keep out rain, snow and sleet, which will deteriorate terra cotta flue tiles inside the chimney or cause rusting of flue/stove pipes. A cap will keep out animals and birds, leaves, twigs and other debris that could lead to blockage or chimney fire. Chimney caps also help keep sparks from leaving the chimney and igniting nearby combustibles and will help eliminate wind-induced downdrafts. Sealed damper systems will help to seal out the cold and keep in the heat, saving you on energy bills.
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