It’s not always easy to know if it’s time to replace your home’s ducts and vents. First, you have to identify them as the source of your problems to begin with. Second, you have to decide among cleaning, repair, and replacement as the option that makes the most sense.
It will depend on the types of ducts/vents you have, as well as on their condition, when making this decision. The location of the problem vents and duct work and the cost of fixing that problem relative to the cost savings to be had from fixing it – that also has to be estimated and taken into account.
At Pure Eco, we are experts at knowing when a duct or vent can be saved, and when it wouldn’t be worth the effort of cleaning/repairing it. Here are some basic guidelines on that:
1. Cleaning Ducts & Vents
Before cleaning a duct/vent, you first want to identify the source of the dust and dirt. If there is an air leak or draft of some kind, that should be dealt with first so the cleaning job won’t be done in vain.
If your building is relatively new, and yet, your vents and duct system are very dirty, it could be the builder was running the heat/AC without filters during construction. In that case, you might just need a one-shot cleaning.
If, however, there are air leaks, they have to be sealed. We can find them through a blower door test and eliminate the problem.
If you have flex duct material, cleaning of dirt and debris is simply enough (with the right tools), but significant mold growth could mean it’s time to toss the old and invest in the new. Duct board, metal duct work and vents, plastic, and other materials all vary in how they respond to different levels of contamination – so it takes some experience to really know if a vent or duct material can be saved on not.
2. Making Repairs & Expansions
In some cases, there’s more wrong with your ducts and/or vents than just being dirty, but not enough to merit throwing them away and buying new.
We can run a duct work pressure test to see if your duct work has leaks and how serious the leakage is. Duct work has to be fully sealed in order to get maximum output from an AC or heating system – so sealing is one major area of possible repairs with duct work.
Your ducts and/or vents may also need to be insulated or re-insulated if the old insulation is ruined OR if it doesn’t have a high enough R-value (R 4 through 8 is usually sufficient in Southern California).
In other cases, duct systems and vents in a home may be so poorly engineered that they need to be, in large part, re-done – but a lot of the same vents and materials can be re-used. Or, additional vents may simply have to be added in strategic locations. It all depends and varies on a case by case basis.
3. Duct and Vent Replacement
Finally, there are instances where full duct work and ventilation system replacement is highly recommended.
There are some vents/ducts that are simply too dirty to clean – or at least, it wouldn’t be worth the time, effort, and expense to go ahead and clean them. If mold is a problem, the danger of mold returning on a badly contaminated vent may mean you’re better off just replacing it with a new one.
It’s rare to need to replace metal duct work – it can almost always be cleaned if you have the right tools and experience. Fiber board duct work and especially plastic, are much more likely to need full replacement.
Replacing old vents and duct work can be a large project, and if work must be done in less accessible spaces (attic, crawl space, inside of ceilings and walls), that adds labor and expense to the task. Vents and duct work may have to be removed and re-installed in an extensive, building-wide, circuit that services each room of the house. And plaster or drywall may have to be cut into to properly place all the vents and duct work.
Depending on the size of the house and the amount of material to be replaced, it could easily take 3 to 4 days to complete a full duct and vent replacement project. Most people don’t have the time, tools, or experience necessary to tackle these types of projects DIY – thus, we at Pure Eco stand ready to step in and do all the hard work for you!