Maintaining the home’s HVAC system is vital to keep it running efficiently and holding down energy costs. But is cleaning out the ductwork part of that strategy? It may surprise some homeowners and a few home inspectors to learn that the answer is a firm “maybe, maybe not.” Having the ductwork professionally cleaned may be an appropriate course of action if the system has been contaminated by moisture or mold, but, absent these issues, it may create more issues than it solves. A general amount of airborne dust in a home is normal; homeowners shouldn’t try to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. But before making any recommendations to your clients, read more about it in our six-part article series: The Home Inspector’s Guide to Air Duct Cleaning.
The majority of new home construction is deadline-driven, which means that, sometimes, minor but essential work may be performed haphazardly or not at all. This is especially true of sealing around exhaust fans and ductwork. If the opening cut for the installation of the fan box or duct leaves large gaps around the unit, air can escape into unconditioned spaces and create airflow and moisture problems that don’t reveal themselves until they become critical. Proper installation at the outset can help prevent such issues. Inspectors can read more about them in Inspecting for Air Sealing at Kitchen and Bathroom Exhaust Fans.
Inspectors who inspect homes that are being built or retrofitted with newer HVAC systems should know something about ductwork and air returns. Making sure that airflow and return air are being moved through the system properly is vital for energy efficiency and comfort. Read more in Inspecting Ducted Returns.
Home inspectors can help ensure that their clients’ HVAC systems are running optimally by checking the system’s duct seams. There are key points where air leakage is common, as well as specific types of materials that should be sued to remedy any energy loss. Read more: Inspecting the HVAC System for Duct Leaks and Energy Loss.