To people outside the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) industry, the various elements that make up an HVAC system can seem vague and unclear and often confusing. The term “fire pipe” is an example of this trend. Oven cleaning and air duct cleaning can be mixed and usually require one if the customer really wants the other (or both). Here is the summary.
What is oven cleaning?
Furnace cleaning only includes furnace components such as heat exchangers, blower motors, combustion chambers, burners and fans. These are usually cleaned with a combination of high pressure air and an industrial vacuum cleaner. Some heavy-duty support parts, such as evaporator coils, often require more specialized cleaning due to additional costs.
High quality cleaning minimizes debris in the unit, improves airflow and increases energy efficiency. It also reduces the number of pollutants and particles that enter the air duct just to circulate through the system. Cleaning the oven does not generally include cleaning the ducts and vents associated with the oven.
What is air duct cleaning?
Air fabric duct cleaning is the process of removing dust, debris, and contaminants from the air duct, including the main supply pipe and the main return and bypass lines. Hobbyists sometimes call it “vent cleaning,” but the term is somewhat derogatory. An air duct is a large system of metal pipes that (usually) runs from a furnace through the house and distributes heated or cooled air. The vents are where the ducts lead into your home.
Duct cleaning uses special tools such as air whips, snakes and sticks to move debris in the duct to an industrial vacuum. Different levels of service are generally available, depending on how dirty the duct is and how long it was last cleaned.
How are the two services similar?
Similar tools are used for cleaning air ducts and cleaning fire boilers. High pressure air, powerful suction and in some cases a mixer. Both of these help improve energy efficiency and air circulation (and air quality) by reducing the amount of residue and pollutants that interfere with the HVAC system. For the most complete cleaning of the system, the two services are usually run together. The air duct and the oven are part of the same system, so if one is dirty the other is more likely to be dirty.
What service do you need?
For the above reasons, it is generally recommended that you clean the furnace and the duct at the same time, but this is not a hard and fast rule. If the oven is new (about a year old) and the filters are installed correctly (which is important), it may not yet need to be cleaned. However, if the oven is dirty, the oven will blow air directly into the supply duct, ensuring that the air duct is also dirty.
Cleaning of the air duct is generally recommended every two years. Ideally, the “maintenance” service level will suffice for future cleanings, starting with the highest service level. If you’re unsure whether you should run both services, you can have a technician give you a visual assessment and discuss (and show) the results.
To keep things simple and maintain a trackable schedule, contaminants and residue in the room are minimized when you first live in your new home. Maintaining a regular schedule for subsequent services will reduce cleaning costs, and many businesses will be able to reduce multiple services and increase the benefits of running both services at the same time.