Clean Ducts to Eliminate Mildew, Mold, and Odor
LESLIE: Peggy in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
PEGGY: A few months ago I had a handyman come in to take the vents down or clean the vents that are up in my ceiling; you know, where the air and the heat come out of.
PEGGY: And what I – after – he did. He took them down and he said they were full of mildew. So I went and I bought three new vents and had them put them up but before he put them up he said there was a lot of mildew in the surrounding area on the wall where the vents go into. So I gave him some X14 and told him to spray it and see what happened, which he turned the air conditioning off, of course, and I didn’t notice it right away but I – not too long after I noticed that I was getting this smell that seemed to me like something was burning. So I called – every time the air conditioner tripped in. And as you know, it was quite hot so we were getting – it was tripping in quite a bit. So I called my air conditioning man and he went up. He checked it. He said he couldn’t find anything wrong. He checked the compressor. Nothing wrong. So I’m wondering if it could have been when the handyman sprayed that area with the X14; could that be what’s causing the burning smell.
TOM: Well, it’s impossible to say. You know, there’s no flame in the air conditioning system that’s going to cause that so, you know, I can’t a situation where, unless there was an electrical short or something, that you would have anything that was like burning. But I will tell you, if you have a lot of mildew and dust that’s building up inside the ducts that can have an odor in and of itself. And while you clean the area that you can see, no doubt there’s going to be some additional debris inside the ducts. This might be one of the rare times when we recommend that you have all of the ducts cleaned in the house.
And then the second thing you should do is look at the filtration system that you have on this, Peggy, and make sure that it’s a whole-house system; not just one of these thin, fiberglass filters. I’d put in a whole-home air cleaner that gets mounted to the return duct so that all of the air that goes through the house is properly being scrubbed and a whole-home system can be much more efficient than the standard, thin fiberglass filters because they can take out even virus-sized particles.
TOM: And those two things together – clean the ducts and then have a proper filtration system on it – is the best way to reduce the amount of debris inside the ducts and probably have …
LESLIE: And odor.
TOM: … the area smell a whole lot better. Yeah, exactly.
PEGGY: So in other words, what you’re saying is that I should have my ducts cleaned.
TOM: Yes, I think you should have your ducts cleaned and I think that you should have a better filtration system; a whole-home electronic air cleaner is the best way to go.
Peggy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
PEGGY: Thank you.