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Furnaces • Ducts • Dryer Vents

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Professional Duct Cleaning Services in the Okanagan Valley

Q: How often should I get my ducts cleaned and is it really necessary?

In general, it is recommended that about every 3 years is a good cycle, although, it will depend upon individual circumstances. If you keep a clean home, have tile and wood/laminate floors, no pets and do not suffer with allergies, then it may well be every 5 years. If you have had renovations, bought a new home or moved into a home that had pets or very old carpets, then it is advisable to clean the duct system to remove all contaminants that may lurk in the ductwork. Remember, nobody ever died from dirty ducts, but as you spend large amounts of time inside your home, it's nice to think the air that's circulating is as clean as possible.

Q: How long does the process take and is it safe to stay in the house while it is being done?

Generally, two technicians will be in your home for between 1.5 and 2 hours. This will of course be dependent on size of home, number of furnaces, layout of ducting and whether there is a crawl space that needs accessing. Even if the ducts have been cleaned beforehand, the process will still take the same amount of time. As we are removing dust and contaminants using a large negative air vacuum and high pressure dry air, there is no reason to evacuate the home whilst we are cleaning. The process is perfectly safe for homeowners and their pets. We do not use any harmful chemicals during cleaning.

Q: How can I be sure I am getting a good service for the right price?

There are a few points to remember when choosing a company to do the work. Will they quote you a firm price based on certain factors? Are they members of a recognized organization such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? Would your friends or neighbours recommend them? Do they drive vehicles with their company decals on them? Did you call at least 3 companies and get separate quotes? At Duct Doctor, we are passionate about our services and we hate to hear of bad experiences with duct cleaning. We hear many stories of unmarked vehicles, operators going door to door offering "specials" or "cash deals" with no official paperwork and prices that start low, but end up way higher due to sneaky up selling techniques. Remember, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Q: There seems to be conflicting views on duct cleaning methods, how do I know what's best?

At Duct Doctor, we utilize the preferred method of "source removal" using our high power, specially built, duct cleaning trucks to ensure maximum suction power at point of hook up. A range of high pressure air tools agitates and blast the dust back to the constantly running negative air vacuum. This method is generally used by most companies with a negative air machine, whether it is a truck mounted system or portable system. Some companies utilize brushes together with vacuum; others utilize air whips and scrubbers. Generally, portable vacuums have less power than truck mounts, often 50% less. They require shorter hose lengths and being truly portable, they are ideal for high rise condos and large buildings where hose run would be an issue for a truck mount. Most portables have multi stage filters, with a HEPA filter being part of that make up. This is important as they filter the air back into the home the technician is cleaning, but these filters can start to clog easily and the suction power is reduced during cleaning. Our truck has twelve large filter bags on the outside and there is no loss of suction. This is no need for multi stage filters, as all of the dust is coming out of the home.

There are also portable brush systems that clean ducts, however, these generally have the least suction power. Often less than 500cfm, when compared to a typical 5000cfm from the best portable vacuums. This is still 50% less than a typical truck mount. These brush systems rely on a spinning brush that can rotate, in either direction, whilst vacuum is constantly running. These systems brush and vacuum the ducts at the same time and have different size hose and brushes for each type of duct. Again, as they are completely portable they can go anywhere and are not restricted by hose length. The constant brushing action is a bonus on dirty ducts BUT the vacuum port at end of hose is very small and cannot cope with large debris. Also, please remember it is not possible to clean any parts of the furnace with a spinning brush. The other issue that often occurs, is vent covers that are impossible to remove. With our high pressure air nozzle we can still access and clean that run albeit a little less thoroughly, with a brush if the vent doesn't come off the run doesn't get cleaned! Finally, if you have been quoted for fogging of an antibacterial disinfectant, suppliers recommend carrying out this procedure by having all the vents covered while the entire system is under negative pressure. Each vent is fogged individually, whilst suction is running, and then the cover is replaced. It is not possible to follow this same procedure with a brush system.

These are just a few basic things to remember when choosing your duct cleaner, so don't be afraid to ask a few questions on the company's procedures. After all, it's your money and your home, so you want to be sure you are getting what you paid for.

Q: Furnace cleaning or servicing... what's the story?

Some people are unsure what they should be doing with their heating and cooling system and get confused between servicing and cleaning. Basically, it is a good idea to have your gas furnace serviced by a qualified technician at least every 2 years. It's probably a good idea to have older units serviced yearly, because the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious issue. A service technician will check the furnace over for safe operation and perform certain tests. He may also remove and clean certain parts, depending upon what service schedule has been booked. A duct cleaning tech will, as part of the cleaning process, also clean the furnace, but generally the cleaning is done with all parts in place. The fan may be removed, if it is easily done. On older models, the burners can be cleaned quite well without removal and if done before a service visit, the service tech can more easily see any signs of cracking or damage. During the summer months, the air conditioning coil is an important check point for the service tech, as air should flow freely to give the best cooling effect. Of course, whenever we clean the furnace and ducts, we are also cleaning (where possible) the A/C coil too. Regardless of the time of year, we always clean ALL accessible parts to make sure they are free from contaminants.

Nigel Chapman

Duct Doctor

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