Tips on How to Prevent Duct Contamination from the EPA
Whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, committing to a good preventive maintenance program is essential to minimize duct contamination.
To prevent dirt from entering the system:
- Use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.
- Change filters regularly.
- If your filters become clogged, change them more frequently.
- Be sure you do not have any missing filters and that air cannot bypass filters through gaps around the filter holder.
- When having your heating and cooling system maintained or checked for other reasons, be sure to ask the service provider to clean cooling coils and drain pans.
- During construction or renovation work that produces dust in your home, seal off supply and return registers and do not operate the heating and cooling system until after cleaning up the dust.
- Remove dust and vacuum your home regularly. (Use a high efficiency vacuum (HEPA) cleaner or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum cleaner can take. Vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air during and after vacuuming as well as in your ducts).
- If your heating system includes in-duct humidification equipment, be sure to operate and maintain the humidifier strictly as recommended by the manufacturer.
Prevent ducts from becoming wet:
Moisture should not be present in ducts. Controlling moisture is the most effective way to prevent biological growth in air ducts.
- Promptly and properly repair any leaks or water damage.
- Pay particular attention to cooling coils, which are designed to remove water from the air and can be a major source of moisture contamination of the system that can lead to mold growth. Make sure the condensate pan drains properly. The presence of substantial standing water and/or debris indicated a problem requiring immediate attention. Check any insulation near cooling coils for wet spots.
- Make sure ducts are properly sealed and insulated in all non-air-conditined spaces. (e.g., attics and crawl spaced). This will help to prevent moisture due to condensation from entering the system and is important to make the system work as intended. To prevent water condensation, the heating and cooling system must be properly insulated.
- If you are replacing your air conditioning system, make sure that the unit is the proper size for your needs and that all ducts are sealed at the joints. A unit that is too big will cycle on and off frequently, resulting in poor moisture removal, particularly in areas with high humidity. Also make sure that your new system is designed to manage condensation effectively.
Ensure your dryer operates safely and efficiently:
Many home fires start from an improperly clanged and maintained dryer vent. Poorly maintained dryer vent’s can cause premature failure of the bearings, elements, and igniters, and other critical parts.
- Clean the lint filter before each load, for best drying results. Clean behind dryer as needed.
- When drying only one or two items, toss in a few items of varying size to promote good tumbling action and improve drying results. Dryers with an Auto-Dry cycle will not dry properly with a very small load in the tumbler.
- A drying rack accessory sits stationary on the front and rear bulkheads to speed the drying process of items like: caps, sneakers, sweaters, stuffed toys, and pillows.
- Do not dry clothing or fabric on which there is anything flammable (alcohol, cooking oils, gasoline, spot removers, dry-cleaning solvents, etc.). Flammable substances give off vapors that could ignite or explode.
- Don’t place foam backed rugs in the dryer.
- Reduce bending by raising the clothes dryer 6-12 inches off the floor, with a storage drawer below. This puts the door opening near level with the washer opening.
- Never use white plastic exhaust duct on an dryer! The stuff is not only flammable, but it increases drying time tremendously!
Improper venting or a clogged vent will give the following results:
- Long drying times.
- Clothes are hot at end of cycle, bad for Perma-Press items.
- Dryer is noisier than usual.
- Clothes still hot and damp after cycle ends.
- Automatic sensors fail to shut off.
- Premature failure of heating element, motor, or bearings.