HVAC System Cleaning

Indoor air quality

About HVAC system cleaning

Over time, your HVAC system gets dirty. Effective filtration will help reduce the amount of dust and debris that makes its way into your system and ducting; however, it is recommended to clean your system occasionally to improve system performance and indoor air quality (IAQ). When your HVAC system is operating, it can move up to 2000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of airflow. With it, dust, debris, and other pollutants can make their way into the components of your HVAC system. Your HVAC system can generate moisture in the cooling and heating cycles, inhibiting microbial growth and negatively affecting the system performance and IAQ. HVAC system cleaning is essential for the longevity of your system and can help improve the IAQ in your home. There are four main types of HVAC system cleaning:

  1. Blower wheel cleaning

  2. Indoor coil cleaning

  3. Outdoor coil cleaning

  4. Duct cleaning or replacement


Blower wheel cleaning

The blower wheel does the heavy lifting when moving the air within your HVAC system and throughout your home. In a ducted system, there is a filter before the blower wheel. The primary purpose of this filter is to protect the internal components of the HVAC system from getting dirty and affecting its performance and energy efficiency. Higher efficiency filters will reduce the amount of dust built up on the blower wheel; nonetheless, they still need to be checked and cleaned periodically. Because the blower wheel is the force that moves the air in your HVAC system, any dust or pollutants that get built up can negatively affect its aerodynamics and can spread particles to other system components and into your airflow. It is recommended to contact an HVAC professional to get your blower wheel cleaned. They will disconnect, clean, and disinfect the wheel outdoors. Then reconnect and configure the blower wheel and motor to their original position. The process can be labor-intensive depending on the location of the air handling component of your HVAC system and requires the proper training to know how to reattach and reconfigure the blower motor.

Indoor coil cleaning

The indoor coil, often referred to as the evaporator coil, is the part of your HVAC system that does the cooling. It has refrigerant flowing inside it and is designed similarly to a car's radiator. This design allows air to flow through it and efficiently transfer the heat between the refrigerant and the air. When the indoor coil becomes clogged, either from dust and debris or microbial growth, it can negatively affect the performance of the system and cause damage to the compressor or blower motor. If there is microbial growth, it can also negatively affect indoor air quality. It is recommended to contact an HVAC professional to get your indoor coil cleaned. The indoor coil can be cleaned on the spot or removed for a more thorough cleaning. An in spot cleaning involves opening the coil housing and spraying it with a professional-grade cleaning solution and disinfectant. Some solutions require the coil to be rinsed with water afterward, and others allow the condensation of the coil to remove the solution. Deep cleaning of the evaporator coil involves removing the refrigerant from the system, disconnecting the refrigerant lines from the evaporator coil, removing the coil, thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the coil outdoors, replacing the coil to its original position, and reconnecting the refrigeration lines, and recharging the system with refrigerant correctly. Both cleanings are labor-intensive and require the proper tools and skills. Deep cleaning of the indoor coil is expensive and is only necessary in extreme cases where the build-up on the coil cannot be cleaned via in-spot cleaning. Investing in UV purification and keeping up with in-spot cleanings will help prevent the need for deep cleaning of your indoor coil.

Outdoor coil cleaning

The outdoor coil, often called the condenser coil, is the part of your HVAC system designed to cool down the refrigerant as air flows through it. This lowers its pressure before it makes its way to the indoor coil. When the outdoor coil is dirty, it can affect the systems' performance, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality. The HVAC system is designed for the refrigerant to enter the indoor coil at specific pressures, allowing the indoor coil to achieve the designed temperature needed to cool your home. When the outdoor coil is dirty, the refrigerant pressure will be higher, and as a result, the temperature of the indoor coil will be higher. This will cause your system to run longer to achieve your desired temperatures. Additionally, higher refrigerant pressure means the compressor will be working harder to compress the refrigerant, leading to higher energy consumption. A dirty outdoor coil can affect the IAQ depending on where you live. As mentioned above, when the outdoor coil is dirty, the indoor coil temperature will be higher. Similar to a cold cup of water on a hot day, moisture condensates on the cold indoor coil. A warmer indoor coil temperature won't be able to remove as much humidity from the air, negatively affecting the IAQ in your home.

Duct cleaning or replacement

The ducting of an HVAC system controls where from and to where the airflow gets distributed throughout the home. There are return ducts (where from) and supply ducts (where to). The ducting of your HVAC system can get dirty over time with dust, debris, vermin, and microbial growth. If you suspect you have dirty ducting, we recommend replacing them instead of cleaning them. Cleaning the ducts doesn't always take care of the underlying issues. Cleaning them can cause damage by tearing the internal lining, creating leaks, reducing their effectiveness, and allowing insects and rodents to infest them. Many companies that offer duct cleaning do not clean the ducts thoroughly. Microbial growth can grow within the ducts of your HVAC system due to moisture from poorly insulated ducts or ducting that is improperly designed. Although it is impossible to eliminate all the humidity within an HVAC system, investing in new ducting that is correctly designed and insulated will help reduce the moisture build-up. Additionally, you can opt for antimicrobial ducting made from materials that inhibit microbial growth. Nonetheless, duct cleaning may be a good option if you have a tight budget. Just choose a reliable company to complete the job thoroughly and minimize the chances of damage to your ductwork.

The bottom line

Keeping your HVAC system components clean is crucial to ensure your system operates properly and efficiently. Doing so will also help improve the IAQ of your home. Each HVAC system component works together to keep your home comfortable and affects the air quality. If just one part of your HVAC system is dirty, it can affect the indoor air quality and performance of the system as a whole. The condition of where the system is located and how it's designed is an essential factor in its cleanliness. Accessories such as high-efficiency filters and UV purification can reduce the need to clean the components as frequently. We recommend getting your HVAC system inspected by an HVAC professional yearly to check the cleanliness of your system and ensure it is operating correctly and according to designed performance and efficiency ratings. If some system components are dirty and affect the system's performance and air quality, they should be cleaned or replaced.

Learn more about ways to improve indoor air quality

IAQ Overview

Indoor air quality can be up to 5x worse than the outdoors. Learn why and how to improve it

UV Purification

Kill and reduce mold and bacteria growth on your HVAC coils

Reactive Defense

Release pathogen fighting molecules to help improve IAQ

Ventilation

Bring in fresh air from the outdoors to improve indoor air quality

Source Control

Reduce or eliminate sources of poor IAQ such as candles and harmful cleaning supplies

Filtration

Filter out particles of various sizes using your HVAC system fan

Humidity Control

Control humidity levels in your home to inhibit microbial growth and the spread of viruses