Ask the Engineer: Dead In Our Ducts

You sealed the deal.  Months of searching for the right home.  Getting it down to your top choices, while working on “the number” that you can actually budget for.  Maybe a little back and forth to shave off a few grand to get the price actually into your comfort zone.

You sit across the table from the previous owners, realtors, the lawyer that will draw up the papers; everyone signs.  Then you run out of the law office with high fives, hugs, and a few sweet kisses.

Now it’s time to kick out all remanence of the previous folks that still reside in the walls.  Get rid of scuff marks from post soccer games on late Thursday nights, or little Cindy’s height from ages two through fourteen.  Claw marks buffed out of the hardwoods from when Buck, their golden retriever, ran after the kids in the house when they teased him.  Though they grabbed their stuff, they left a lot of them for you to contend with.  So you paint, you rip off the 1983 wallpaper, you buff up the hardwoods, scrape the popcorn ceiling.  You get all the things that are “you” into the home and you relax. But wait.  What is that smell?  “I smell it every time I come in this room” or “Why am I reminded of sasquatches’ under arms right now?”  You can’t quite figure that out; or maybe you feel stuffy at times or sneeze more and feel congested.  Why?

Stop here, grab your smart phone, open up that metal grill where you change your filters at, reach down (or up) in there with the phone and snap a picture or two.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Gross, right?  What do you think all that is that is caked on the walls of your ducts?  You know… your ducts, that sheet metal square or circular pipe that is carrying every ounce of air that you breathe into your lungs.  Yes, you guessed it:  dust, dead skin cells of every person that has been in this house from the day the air conditioner was turned on (average person sheds 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells per a day).  Also, don’t forget the pet dander, dust mites, fungi, and bacteria.

GreenHome ductwork_blog

So what do you do?  Some folks will tell you to replace the whole thing and start fresh, and that may be the case, but it often isn’t.  Another solution would be to have them cleaned and sealed.  You can actually have a professional take a device that is specifically designed to scrub down the walls of your duct and suck out the dust and debris as it works its way through your system.  And surprisingly, it is affordable.  If you don’t do this every few years, you should and then watch your immune system smile back at you in the mirror when you get out of bed in the mornings.  You know why it’s smiling?  Because its happy that it no longer has to battle as hard.  Also, you can seal up the ducts too and save some serious coin.  I’ll talk about that in our next blog.

*Picture is of a piece of duct we removed from a client’s home that wanted a complete gut and rework.  In future blogs I will explain why this was necessary.

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