Trusted & Accurate Information Regarding Duct Cleaning
09 Jun 2019

What do air ducts have to do with your health?

Do you have dirty ducts? When did you last look? And while regular cleaning of your ducts may be important for your homeowners insurance policy, what might your ducts have to do with your health?

Highly respected authorities on household air quality have studied the relationship between cleaning air ducts and your health. Years ago, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) investigated whether cleaning air ducts leads to healthier air quality in homes, and they concluded it didn’t.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted tests that showed, whether air ducts are clean or dirty, virtually the same concentration of dust can be found in the air. This is because dust and dirt tend to stick to the vents and filters, not blow through the air.

However, there are some situations that may give cause for concern. You might think that only old, unkempt farmhouses in rural areas make inviting homes for nasty rodents like rats. But we have seen exponential growth of rat populations in big cities. Homeowners need to make sure there are no compromised vents into the house. Rats, or even smaller pests like cockroaches, when living in your air ducts, can lead to pest-related contaminants that aggravate allergies, asthma, and sinus problems.

Fans that force air through your home can cause condensation inside the duct. Mold can multiply in these places, and then be distributed through the ducts to other rooms. Mold is a culprit in respiratory illness.

If you live in a house that is 50 years old or older, there’s a chance your ducts might be insulated with products containing asbestos. This is a serious problem, and you should call in the professionals and be prepared for a major disruption. Asbestos is associated with lung cancer.

Consider the case of a 33-year-old banker whose chest X-ray showed ominous nodules suggesting he was suffering from lung cancer. The patient refused further treatment on the premise that he was young, didn’t smoke, and his symptom was getting better, not worse.

The banker remained well for a year. But then he began to experience the same symptoms, complaining of fever, coughing, body aches and shortness of breath. An X-ray showed a recurrence of the conditions suggesting cancer. But after several weeks, his symptoms mysteriously vanished again.

This prompted his doctor to send the patient to Dr. Robert Rubin, an infectious disease expert at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Rubin noted that X-rays showed the lesions in the lungs were always in different locations, hardly what one would expect with a malignancy.

Dr. Rubin’s diagnosis was “Hypersensitivity Pneumonia.” But what was causing his symptoms and the disappearing lesions in the lung?

Hypersensitivity pneumonia occurs when the lungs become inflamed from dust laden with mold, fungi and spores. The most common culprit, thermophilic actinomycetes, which decomposes leaves, bark and plant materials. This is why farmers suffer from “farmer’s lung.” There’s also “wine grower’s lung” due to mouldy grapes, “crack lung” from heavy use of crack smoking, and “bird farmer’s lung” from feathers and bird droppings.

But bankers don’t harvest sugar cane, cure tobacco, work with wood dust, soybean feed, barley or mushrooms.

Dr. Rubin then became as much a detective as a doctor. He questioned the patient about humidifiers, his hobbies, and home heating system. Finally, he got a clue. The banker’s symptoms began when his bank moved into new office space. Rubin discovered the building’s ducts had been blown clean twice. It was on each of these occasions that the patient had developed symptoms and cancer-like lesions of his lungs.

But Rubin, still in detective mode, took swabs from the ducts, particularly from wet areas. The analysis showed the culture was loaded with actinomycetes.

But why didn’t other workers develop hypersensitivity pneumonia? Rubin believes it depends on the severity of exposure and a person’s genetic predisposition. Following cleaning of the ducts, the banker worked in the building for another four years without any more attacks.

Today I wonder how many doctors would put on work clothes and examine ducts? More likely, you will need to do your own detective work. Know when it’s worth disturbing your ducts, and when to just leave them be.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The column does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are the views solely of the author.


05 May 2019

Dozens of snakes found in resident’s air ducts

RICHLAND, Wash. — Dozens of snakes were found in a residential home in Richland after a routine HVAC maintenance procedure.

BF Power VAC recommends thorough duct cleaning within your home or business every three years.

They say although snakes are not common it is common to find rodents and debris that can cause recurring illnesses such as a cold.

To better prepare for summer, Owner Shawn Mattoon said a routine checkup can make the difference.

“Though most people see them as an unneeded expense it can save them in the long run”.

He said, “The cleaning that we do helps improve the efficiency and longevity of the equipment in their home and in their businesses.”

Experts say by routinely cleaning your HVAC system it can help shorten the life span of most viruses and bacteria that is recirculating around your residence.

01 Jan 2019

9 Furnace Maintenance Moves We All Forget That Raise Our Heating Bill

With winter roaring in at full speed, it’s time to brush up on your furnace maintenance skills. After all, you wouldn’t expect your car to run at top efficiency if you never change the oil, right?

Yet all too often, furnace maintenance gets shoved to the side as we crank the heat higher and higher, forcing this hard-working appliance to work harder than it has to. And that spells higher energy bills all around—and it’s bound to break sooner, too.

If the thought of a house with a broken furnace sends chills down your spine, follow these nine furnace maintenance tips so you can enjoy a lower gas bill this winter without walking around your house in a parka.

1. Change your filter

We’d be remiss to not state the obvious here, which is that your furnace filter needs regular attention.

“Make sure your filter is clean! This is a very simple and inexpensive way to help your HVAC system run more efficiently,” says Jeff Trucksa of K & J Heating and Cooling.

Your furnace filter should be changed at least once each season, but if you have pets, a lot of dust, or allergies, consider changing it every 30 to 60 days.

The first step in changing your filter is finding it, which can be more difficult than you might expect. It could be inside the cabinet of the furnace, between the furnace and the ductwork, or inside the ductwork itself. Turn off the furnace before you go hunting, and call your local HVAC company for help if you can’t find it.

Once you’ve located the filter, it’s as easy as sliding the old filter out and sliding the new filter in, using the markings on the filter to make sure it’s facing the right direction.

2. Keep return vents clear

There are actually two kinds of vents connected to your furnace: supply vents and return vents. Return vents pull air from inside your home and deliver it to the furnace, and supply vents blow that now-warm air back into your home.

“Do not block returns,” warns Trucksa. “Many people focus on not blocking vents, but if you block the returns you will starve the furnace for air and potentially overheat the furnace as well as not having even airflow throughout the house.”

There are a few ways to identify the return air vents if you’re not sure which ones they are. Return vents are usually larger than supply vents, they don’t have louvers to close them, and when your furnace is running, you won’t feel warm air from return vents.

Duct Cleaning
Duct Cleaning

3. Clean the ducts

It’s easy to overlook your home’s duct system—it is hidden, after all—but Nate Burlando, owner of Distinct Heating and Cooling, says it shouldn’t be ignored.

“Duct cleaning can improve your HVAC’s performance,” he explains. “Excess dust, mold, and pet dander can build up in your vents, preventing proper airflow.”

Having your ducts cleaned may be costly, but it might be worth it if you think you’re not getting enough from your furnace. While duct cleaning is not part of an annual furnace service, the HVAC specialist who does that check can let you know if yours needs to be cleaned.

4. Get a checkup

No matter how great you are at changing a filter, you should still have your furnace serviced by a professional at least once a year. According to Bell Bros. HVAC, up to 75% of no-heat calls made to heating and cooling companies are the direct result of ignoring regular maintenance. An expert can find issues that lessen efficiency, like faulty pilot lights. The pro will also keep an eye out for dangerous problems like a cracked heat exchanger, which can result in carbon monoxide leaking into your home.

Ceiling Fan
Ceiling Fan

5. Run your ceiling fans

Furnace maintenance is about how all your heating and cooling elements work together.

For instance, while you may think ceiling fans are only for the summer months, that’s not true. John Burkhardt of Burkhardt Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration says you should run them in the winter, too.

“Since hot air rises, running your ceiling fans in the reverse direction will push hot air from the ceiling down into the occupied space in your home,” he says.

Newer fans usually have a button on the motor housing that reverses the motor, while older models may require you to pull the cord until the direction switches. In the winter, your ceiling fan should be turning in a clockwise direction, so keep making adjustments until you see your blades moving in that direction.

6. Shut off those exhaust fans

While ceiling fans may be a good idea during the winter months, exhaust fans aren’t.

“If you have large attic fans or very strong exhaust fans like those typically in a bathroom or above a stove, they will remove heat from your house,” explains Larry Oglesby, HVAC expert at Remington College. “Don’t run them in the winter time.”

7. Seal up your attic

Since heat rises, a lot of the heat your furnace is putting out ends up in the attic—and eventually finds its way out through your roof. So sealing your attic and adding insulation to keep the heat out will make a big difference.

“The attic is where a lot of heat and energy gets lost,” explains Burlando. “Insulation can add a buffer, which will allow your internal temperature to regulate and maintain a comfortable level more easily.”

According to Energy Star, sealing your attic is not an easy task, and adding insulation can be tricky as well. If you’re a confident home-DIYer, you can attempt it, but it may be better (and more efficient) to call in the professionals for this job.


8. Run a humidifier

Running the furnace all winter can dry out your skin, but that’s not actually the reason we’re recommending you run a humidifier during the colder months.

According to Bolden Brothers Plumbing, Heating, and Air, dry air actually feels cooler than more humid air. That means you’re working your furnace harder by cranking it up, when a little humidity would have done the trick.

Your skin and your gas bill will thank you.

9. Invest in a smart thermostat

These things are more than just trendy gadgets.

“A smart thermostat will learn your schedule and adjust the temperature levels of your home to provide optimal comfort, while also saving on utility bills,” says Burlando. “No more extra energy spent heating an empty house or coming home to a freezing home.”

04 Nov 2018

How to Get Rid of Mice in Heating Ducts

Mice often use the dark corners of the home – from fireplaces to exhaust vents to attics – as their own personal transit system. Heating and cooling ducts form the core of this rodent highway. The critters take refuge in the ducts after pillaging your food supplies, posing an unsanitary threat to health. They can cause problems with smell when they die in the spaces. Prevent both instances from happening with time-tested trapping methods.


Turn off your heating or central air conditioning system. Allow the heating grates to cool completely.

Remove all grates covering your heating vents. You may need a screwdriver to pry them off or remove screws.

Load snap traps, one for each heating vent in the home, with fragrant baits to stimulate the rodents’ keen sense of smell. Bacon, cheese, chocolate, dried fruit and peanut butter all serve this purpose well. Arm the traps according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Place one trap just inside each duct, sliding it up against the duct’s interior wall with the bait end touching the wall to form “T” shape. Putting traps inside the duct targets duct-dwelling mice specifically and keeps the traps out of reach of pets and small children. Use mouse droppings to determine paths followed by mice and place traps along the paths.

Replace all heating vent grates and run your heat as usual.

Check the traps for mice each morning. Look into the vent slats with a flashlight. If the trap holds a mouse, remove the grate and take the trap out of the duct. Wearing rubber gloves, remove the mouse and seal it in a plastic zipper storage bag. Dispose of the dead mouse and wash your hands with antibacterial soap. Continue to trap and dispose of mice until you’ve eliminated your home’s rodent population.

Block entry points to prevent the problem in the future. Check your roof and wall vents for gaps between the duct and the wall. Secure fine wire mesh over these gaps to prevent mice from entering the heating ducts. Do the same for other common entry points, such as gaps and holes around door and window frames, pipes, fireplaces, wall junctures and roof rafters.


Humane traps are available if you want to relocate the mice instead of killing them. They work like the traps one sets for raccoons and other animals, but are much smaller.


Avoid using poison traps to get rid of mice in your heating ducts. This control method does not kill on contact, leaving mice to die deep in the heating ducts or inside walls, where their carcasses emit extremely foul odors.


Once you catch all the mice inside your air ducts and the rest of the home, we suggest calling a company to clean and disinfect you air ducts. Visit our Business Rating section to easily locate a professional near you.