When you live in a home for a prolonged period of time, you'll likely get into the habit of having your air ducts cleaned on a regular maintenance schedule. Upon moving to a different home, however, you won't immediately know how recently the previous homeowner had this work done, and you thus won't be able to immediately estimate when the next cleaning should be scheduled. The good news is that there are a variety of ways to identify if the ducts in the new home are in need of this service — without going through the hassle of trying to remove a section of the ducts to inspect the condition inside. Here are some solutions for you to use.
Smell During Use
Properly cleaned ducts should not release any scent when you turn on the air conditioner or furnace. Thus, a simple way to verify the cleanliness of the ducts in the new home is to run either the cold or the heat. Upon adjusting the thermostat, stand or crouch directly over one of the floor vents and inhale gently; if you smell mustiness or any smells that are consistent with dusty environments, it's a sign that the ducts aren't as clean as you'd like to have them and that you should call an HVAC contractor (such as one from Coastal Home Services) to get the job done for you.
Visible Release Of Dust
Another effective way to check the condition of the ducts is to see if any dust is released — especially during the initial moments of using the air conditioner or furnace. Have a family member adjust the thermostat while you crouch over an air vent. Remove the cover to be able to look more thoroughly. When you hear the air begin to whoosh through the ducts, look carefully to see if you can see any dust being jettisoned into the air. Dust released in this manner suggests that the ducts are thoroughly coated with dust that needs to be removed.
Condition Of The Cold Air Returns
Take a look throughout the new home to identify the location of the cold air returns. These aren't the same as your floor vents; cold air returns are customarily mounted at the base of the walls and are covered with a metal grate. If this metal grate is severely clogged with dust, it's a sign that the ducts are probably facing the same conditions and should be professionally cleaned.