Should Air Duct Cleaning Be Scheduled On a Regular Basis?

Air duct cleaning should be done on a routine basis. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends it every three to five years. While air ducts don’t need the annual maintenance ACs and furnaces do, contamination can affect your entire cooling and heating system. The dust and dirt you see at home may not be limited to visible surfaces. A professional air duct cleaning can eliminate contaminants to protect your health and HVAC system.

How Does Air Duct Cleaning Work?

You can remove and clean grills and covers and brush or vacuum inside vents close to them, but you can’t reach every part of your duct system. Your ductwork runs throughout your home, and much of it is in remote areas. A licensed HVAC professional can use various methods and equipment, including high-power vacuums, to perform duct cleaning. 

They may also treat duct surfaces to eliminate and prevent mold and bacterial growth. If your HVAC contractor doesn’t specify the product they’re using, ask what it is. The treatment should be a non-toxic, eco-friendly compound for a specific purpose. A type of sealant can also be sprayed into the duct system to coat and encapsulate surfaces, so fibers and other materials don’t escape and circulate in the air.

However, the primary steps an air duct cleaning service provider follows include:

  • Access Ductwork: The contractor opens panels and access ports to inspect and clean the entire system.
  • Check Ducts from the Outside: Air ducts are inspected on the outside for holes, rust, and other damage.
  • Evaluate the Interior of Ductwork: A borescope is used to inspect long ducts; a camera transmits images to a screen.
  • Vacuum Air Ducts: Depending on the duct system and how dirty it is, the technician can use a vacuum system that exhausts materials outside your home or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum equipment.
  • Brush Duct Surfaces Clean: Specialized brushes help dislodge and remove stubborn dust, particles, and other materials. If a duct is made of fiberglass or a metal duct is lined with fiberglass, soft-bristled brushes are used.

Throughout the process, carpeting, furniture, and household items are covered and protected. The contractor also seals and re-insulates any access holes they have made, so your newly cleaned ducts are airtight. In addition to air duct cleaning, they should also clean the return and supply air plenum, drain pan, coils, fans, registers, grills, and diffusers.

When Should I Have My Air Ducts Cleaned?

Some specialists say to have air ducts professionally cleaned every year or two. The NADCA says you can go up to five years between cleanings. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stresses there are many sources of indoor air pollution. Cleaning, cooking, and movement around your home can release dust and particulates. Duct cleaning hasn’t been proven to eliminate dust and pollution and the health problems they can be associated with.

The EPA recommends air duct cleaning on an as-needed basis (we’ll soon discuss the signs you should consider scheduling service). It also urges the maintenance of fuel-burning appliances to limit indoor pollution and hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, duct cleaning alone doesn’t improve HVAC efficiency, especially if heating equipment isn’t maintained and AC coils and fans aren’t cleaned.

Primary Benefits of Cleaning Your Ductwork

Although it’s not the only way to maintain your HVAC system, air duct cleaning can have substantial benefits, including:

  • Indoor Air Quality Improvements: You spend most of your time indoors, where there are many sources of pollution. Cooking, smoking, and even cleaning (many household cleaning products have potentially harmful chemicals) contribute to indoor air quality issues. Pollutants from inside and outside can make their way into ductwork and circulate, the effects of which are most noticeable to people with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory issues.
  • Prevent HVAC Repairs and Early Replacement: Dirty air ducts and HVAC components can force the system to work harder, accelerating wear and tear. Therefore, it may require frequent repairs and its lifespan may be reduced, costing you more than if you schedule routine maintenance and duct cleanings. 
  • Save Money on Your Energy Bills: A lack of maintenance reduces energy efficiency. Dusty, dirty air ducts can cause your air conditioning system to run longer. Before this leads to a major repair, utility bills increase steadily, so you pay more for electricity each month, even if your utility company hasn’t increased rates. 

How Do I Know I Need an Air Duct Cleaning Service?

No official guidelines exist for determining when to have your ductwork cleaned. The best time to schedule service is in the spring or early fall. While the three- to five-year principle is fine in most cases, you should consider getting your air ducts cleaned more often if:

  • Your home was recently renovated
  • There’s nearby construction
  • You live in a high-traffic area

However, there are a few signs you should schedule a professional air duct cleaning as soon as possible. These include:

  • Excessive Dust: If air vents are covered in dust or debris, chances are the ducts are, too. Particles that don’t stick to duct walls when the system is on can blow throughout your home and recirculate in your HVAC system and rooms.
  • Mold Growth: Like dust, mold near vents or ducts can easily spread deep into the system. Mold thrives in dark, damp areas. Inefficient ducts are an ideal location where it can grow unchecked, while mold can release spores and toxins that spread throughout your home.
  • Infested Ducts: If you see, hear, or smell rodents or insects in your ductwork, call a professional. Pests will continue to proliferate if they remain undisturbed. Rodents are especially known for their ability to cause damage and may leave behind waste that spreads disease-causing germs.
  • Allergies Are Worse At Home: Seasonal allergies are common. But if your allergies are worse when you’re indoors than when you go outside, the reason may be in your air ducts. Call a professional to evaluate your ductwork and perform a thorough air duct cleaning if necessary. It can help alleviate your allergy symptoms.
  • You Have Pets: Pet hair and dander tend to go all over the place, including air ducts. More frequent duct cleaning can reduce the amount of pet dander. It can also reduce associated allergy symptoms and contribute to improved indoor air quality.
  • You Don’t Know When the Ducts Were Last Cleaned: If you can’t remember when you last had an air duct cleaning, chances are it’s been several years. Call a professional if this is the case or you’re moving into a new home, especially if the previous owners aren’t sure if or when the ductwork was cleaned.

Can I Prevent Contamination In Between Duct Cleanings?

Preventative maintenance doesn’t eliminate the need for duct cleaning, but it can minimize contamination. The following tips can prevent your ductwork from becoming contaminated:

  • Change your air filter every one to three months
  • Use the highest-efficiency filter your AC manufacturer recommends
  • Replace an air filter whenever it becomes clogged
  • Seal any gaps around the filter holder
  • Dust and vacuum your home regularly
  • Make sure a maintenance technician cleans the coils and drain pan
  • Seal off supply and return registers during a construction or renovation project
  • Do not operate your HVAC system until contractors clean up all the dust

It’s also important to keep moisture out of ducts. It can cause mold and HVAC performance issues. To prevent moisture problems, promptly repair leaks or water damage, ensure the condensate drain pan and drain line are clear, and properly seal and insulate ducts.

Are Certain Duct Materials More Prone to Contamination?

Air ducts can become contaminated whether they contain bare sheet metal or insulation materials such as fiberglass. However, bare metal is easier to treat with an EPA-registered biocide if there’s microbial growth. It’s important to keep ducts clean and dry. Insulating materials are common because they can help improve temperature control, conserve energy, and reduce condensation. They also provide noise control and meet various building materials and fire protection standards.

Is Duct Cleaning a Good Way to Protect My Family’s Health?

Some materials that contaminate ducts can pose health risks. This doesn’t mean a light amount of dust in your duct system is going to get everyone sick. It’s not known what the threshold is for how much contamination is bad. Periodic duct cleaning can help, but you should also stay on schedule with yearly HVAC maintenance tasks such as system inspections and cleaning coils, drain pans, and filters.

How Much Does Air Duct Cleaning Cost?

Based on 2024 data by Angi, the average air duct cleaning cost is $380. However, the service can range from $150 to $795 depending on the size of your home, type of ducts, number of vents, accessibility, how contaminated the system is, and labor. Mold remediation, pest removal, duct sealing, and other services cost extra.

Schedule an Air Duct Cleaning with Trio Heating & Air

We provide a range of indoor air quality services in San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area. Our licensed professionals provide thorough inspections and can employ various techniques to ensure your air ducts are clean. They also install different types and brands of whole-house air purifiers. To learn more or consult with our team about whether it’s time for an air duct cleaning in your home, call (415) 234-4728 today.

Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Major Air Conditioning Repair

Avoiding a large and costly air conditioning repair is easier than you might think. Good habits and some simple tasks can reduce wear on expensive parts. They can also avoid breaking out in a sweat indoors during the warmest days of the year. Aside from maintaining your comfort, the following steps can prevent costly AC breakdowns, emergency calls, and early system replacement:

1. Hire a Qualified Professional for AC Installation

Avoiding future repairs starts before you turn your AC on for the first time. A licensed contractor matches the right air conditioner with your home, considering factors such as unit type, efficiency rating, and size. An AC’s size refers to its capacity. If the unit is too large for a space, it will cycle on and off too frequently, while too small a unit will run too long. Either way, you’ll see poor cooling performance, higher energy bills, and possibly increased repair costs.

Hiring a professional also ensures the system is properly installed and connected. The refrigerant, drain, and electrical connections must be secure for it to run smoothly, efficiently, and safely. The upfront cost is worth it considering what you may pay in air conditioning repairs otherwise, especially since most warranties won’t cover a system unless a licensed contractor installs it.

2. Change the AC Filter as Recommended

Most HVAC professionals recommend changing the air filter at least every three months. However, depending on the filter, how dusty your home is, and if you have pets, it may need to be changed as often as every 30 days. Following these guidelines can avoid major repairs. The filter protects your AC system from dirt and debris that can damage sensitive components. 

A clogged filter also blocks airflow. Your AC system will then work harder and less efficiently, which can make your home uncomfortable and lead to expensive repairs. Changing the filter takes just a few minutes. Therefore, save time and money by following the manufacturer’s recommendations. This can extend the life of your air conditioner significantly.

3. Lessen the Demand on Your Air Conditioner

The more you use your AC, the greater the rate of wear and tear. However, you can reduce the demand on the system in a few simple ways. You can possibly avoid a major air conditioning repair by taking these steps:

  • Turn up the thermostat a couple of degrees, but still at a comfortable temperature.
  • Install a programmable thermostat so you can schedule when your AC turns on and off.
  • Use a ceiling fan to make it feel a few degrees cooler.
  • Turn the air conditioner off when you’re not at home.
  • Close blinds and curtains to keep out heat from sunlight.

4. Open All Vents and Keep Them Clear

If you’re not using a room, closing an AC vent won’t reduce energy consumption. Keep all the vents open to avoid efficiency and air pressure issues that can strain the system. Also, move furniture, storage units, blinds, drapes, or other items that block any vents. Just by keeping all the vents open and clear, you can avoid the surprise expense of a major air conditioning repair.

5. Keep an Eye on the Thermostat

Although it’s relatively small, the thermostat is among the most important parts of your HVAC system. It is the control center for your AC, heating unit, and system fans. Therefore, a thermostat problem can cause the system to run when not necessary, not turn on when you need it, or turn on and off too frequently. 

Any changes in system performance can point to a malfunctioning thermostat. Check the unit’s accuracy; the temperature reading should match the set temperature when the system is running. Mechanical problems and wiring damage can affect temperature/humidity control and increase the risk of shocks, fires, and other hazards. Call for help as soon as you notice any changes in how your thermostat is working.

6. Make Sure the Outdoor Unit Is Clean

The outdoor condenser unit contains vital components that maintain airflow and release heat. If it becomes dirty, your entire AC system can malfunction. To prevent issues that can lead to a major air conditioner repair:

  • Clear leaves, branches, and twigs from the top of the unit.
  • Maintain at least two feet of clearance on all sides.
  • Keep the unit shaded so direct sunlight doesn’t overheat and strain it.

Also, check the outdoor unit’s coils and fins for dirt and debris. Cleaning the unit can prevent various problems. To do so, turn off the power, remove the fan assembly, and use a soft brush or vacuum to clean the coils and fins. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your specific type of unit; or, to be on the safe side, call a professional. 

7. Check for a Clogged Condensate Drain

The condensate drain line removes water that condenses from moisture your AC system collects from the air. If the line becomes clogged, indoor humidity levels can increase, while the problem can also lead to water damage and mold (resulting in serious damage to your HVAC system and home). Check the condensate drain often for blockages. There are home remedies for unclogging it, but hiring a professional can save money and avoid a major air conditioning repair.

8. Call for Help If the Evaporator Coil Freezes

A frozen evaporator coil can do a lot of damage and is often a sign of other problems. Turn off your AC right away. Leaving it off or running the fan for a while may thaw out the coil. However, the best option is to call a repair technician to defrost it and determine what caused the problem. The reasons can range from a clogged filter to a refrigerant leak. Ignoring the issue may lead to damage that requires replacing the coil or the most expensive AC repair—compressor replacement.

9. Don’t Ignore Signs of a Refrigerant Leak

A refrigerant leak can cause your AC system to overheat and break down. Over time, wear and tear and corrosion can affect the coils. The refrigerant is contained in a closed system and doesn’t get used up. Therefore, if you have to recharge the system, there’s most likely a leak somewhere. Call a professional for the following signs of a refrigerant leak:

  • Reduced cooling performance
  • The AC isn’t dehumidifying the air
  • Cooling cycles are running longer
  • The evaporator coils are icy
  • Hissing or bubbling sounds from the outdoor unit
  • Inefficiencies are driving up your energy bills

10. Schedule an Annual AC Tune-Up

As much as you want to avoid calling a local AC contractor, doing so annually can prevent costly air conditioning repairs. A technician has the tools and expertise to properly clean sensitive components, measure refrigerant levels, and lubricate moving parts. They can also check for damage to electrical parts and look for duct leaks. Taking corrective measures for smaller issues can avoid larger repairs and save much money over the life of the system.

Schedule AC Maintenance or Repair with Trio Heating & Air

We are a reliable and experienced air conditioning company serving the The Greater San Francisco Bay Area area. Our licensed technicians are committed to high-quality results and customer satisfaction. They are equipped to address any problem and respond quickly to get your system running again. With regular maintenance, emergencies and costly major repairs can be avoided, which is why we recommend annual AC tune-ups. To schedule air conditioning repairs, routine maintenance, or other AC services, book an appointment online or call (415) 223-5615.

How Do Air Scrubbers Improve Indoor Air Quality

Air scrubbers improve indoor air quality in many ways. They remove tiny particles and other pollutants you can’t see but can impact your health and HVAC system. An air scrubber is far more efficient than a standard media filter in your air handler unit. We’ll look at what it is, how it works, and the benefits this advanced air filtration system can provide. 

The information below can help you decide if it’s time to contact one of Trio’s air scrubber installers, who can find the best air-cleaning solution for your home.

How Does an Air Scrubber Work?

An air scrubber is a sophisticated device installed in your HVAC ductwork. It purifies the air circulating in your home by a series of filter elements. Depending on the model, it may include more than high-efficiency particulate filters. Some units incorporate ultraviolet (UV) light and catalytic processes that neutralize organic and other pollutants.

The standard parts of an air scrubber include:

  • Pre-Filter: It removes larger particles. Although not visible to the naked eye, these can irritate and clog parts of your HVAC system. The pre-filter protects other filters from clogging and can increase their lifespan. It also helps maintain the airflow rate.
  • Primary Filter: Particles smaller than one micrometer are removed by this HEPA filter at the second stage of the system. It increases the air scrubber’s efficiency.
  • Carbon Filter: Although not a standard air scrubber component, a carbon filter can be added to remove toxic chemicals and materials. It improves an air scrubber’s ability to remove odor-causing gases and vapors.
  • UV Light: Ultraviolet light breaks down the DNA of organic contaminants, rendering them inert and unable to reproduce and causing infections and illnesses.
  • Blower Mechanism: This mechanism enables the air scrubber to pull air into the filtration system. Often referred to as the fan, it may have variable speed capabilities to accommodate the air stream’s rate and pressure.

Exactly how an air scrubber improves indoor air quality depends on the type. The most common forms of this technology include:

  • Dry Air Scrubbers: Many dry air scrubbers feature a filter stack that integrates a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which can remove bacteria and many viruses.
  • Wet Air Scrubbers: Most often installed in manufacturing facilities, these use a mist that adheres to dust and other particles. The most advanced systems include mist eliminators, fans, pumps, and collection vessels.
  • Integrated Air Scrubbers: While some basic air scrubbers are portable, an integrated system is built into your HVAC system. It comes in many sizes, including units sized appropriately for your home.
  • Electrostatic Precipitator: It uses an electric charge to bind and capture material, which ranges from dust to particulates from gases. Depending on the type, particles may attach to a grounded plate, collecting surface, or collection container.
  • Negative Air Scrubber: By creating negative air pressure, it captures and collects contaminants and prevents them from leaving a specific area, especially during a renovation. Negative air scrubbers also contain multi-stage HEPA filtration.

Ways In Which an Air Scrubber Improves Indoor Air Quality

An air scrubber can improve the air quality in your home on many levels. It operates continuously as air is circulated and recirculated. These are a few ways it can achieve cleaner, healthier indoor air:

Remove Circulating Debris

An air scrubber effectively removes dust, pollen, mold spores, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Therefore, it removes particulates that contribute to allergy symptoms and asthma attacks. It also removes chemicals released by everyday household cleaners, some furniture, carpets, draperies, and composite wood products. If your home is dusty no matter how often you clean it and people in your household often experience sneezing, coughing, and congestion, contact an air scrubber installer to find the best solution. 

Eliminate Airborne Germs

An air scrubber, especially one with a HEPA filter and UV light, can trap bacteria and even eliminate pathogens such as flu viruses and COVID-19. Its ability to prevent airborne germs from spreading makes an air scrubber one of the best solutions for improving indoor air quality and sanitizing your home. The system doesn’t only remove particles from the air. It also removes particulate matter from surfaces such as countertops and door knobs where contact with germs is most common. To do so, it emits oxidizers or ions into the air that disperse and neutralize these pathogens.

Eliminate Odors

Odors can be caused by circulating dust particles, smoke, paint fumes, and chemicals from various sources around your home. They can linger for hours after cooking. The pets you love can also contribute to household odors. While some odors are inconvenient, others can be emitted by hazardous substances. Air scrubbers remove all kinds of odors. Therefore, your home not only smells better but its overall indoor air quality is improved.

Improve HVAC Performance/Efficiency

Airborne particles and debris can contaminate your HVAC system. The effects can range from air filters that clog more quickly to damaged blowers, coils, and other components. Such damage can lead to expensive repairs and early system replacements. A decline in heating or cooling system performance can also lead to indoor air quality issues, including uneven temperatures, increased humidity, and dust and debris from dirty ductwork. An air scrubber can improve HVAC efficiency and extend the system’s operating life.


How Does an Air Scrubber Differ from an Air Purifier?

An air purifier only removes airborne contaminants. In addition to removing airborne particles, an air scrubber can clean surfaces. It also doesn’t release ozone as some ionizing air purifiers can. Ozone can be harmful to human health and does not remove dust and other particles that cause allergies.

Do I Need an Air Scrubber?

An air scrubber can provide fresher air, contribute to better sleep, and improve your overall quality of life. It is worth considering if:

  • You or someone in your family have frequent allergy symptoms, especially while at home.
  • People in your household get sick often or have underlying issues that make them more vulnerable.
  • Dust, pet dander, mold, and other compounds are common in your home.
  • Your home has persistent odors from cooking, pets, smoking, and other sources.
  • You’re concerned about potentially harmful contaminants in bathroom, kitchen, and other surfaces.

Should I Hire an Air Scrubber Installer?

An HVAC professional can help find the best model for your HVAC system and home. They can also perform an indoor air quality assessment, which is beneficial because there are many types of air scrubbers and laws regulating legal thresholds for certain pollutants. Also, the installation process may require some modifications to your ductwork, which can require a permit not to mention complex work that should be left to a professional.

Contact Trio to Help Improve Indoor Air Quality

Customers throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties rely on Trio Heating & Air for expert air purification services. We install high-quality whole-house air purifiers and air scrubbers. Our technicians are fully trained to install the latest systems and ensure lasting results. They also provide other air quality services such as duct cleaning, duct sealing, and air duct filter replacement. To learn more about our air quality services or request a consultation with one of our professional air scrubber installers, book an appointment online or call (415) 223-5615.

Types of Air Filters for HVAC Ductwork

Installing an air filter in your HVAC ductwork is the best way to achieve clean, breathable air for your entire home. A tight building envelope insulates a modern home well, improving temperature control. However, it contributes to more concentrated indoor pollution. The good news is various options can compensate for this; we’ll explore a few if you’re looking for an air filter replacement or upgrade.

Residential HVAC filters are available as media filters, which provide a physical barrier to trap particles. Meanwhile, electronic filters capture various particles and contaminants via a high-voltage electric charge. Some filtration solutions combine both methods to improve their effectiveness. 

What Is a Whole-House Filter?

A whole-house filter differs from the air filter installed in your furnace or air handler unit. It is typically placed in a return-air duct. From here, it traps particles before they enter the return airflow of a forced-air heating or central AC system. Unlike traditional AC filters, a whole-house air filter must be installed professionally. 

Best Types of Ductwork Filters

A built-in filtration system can serve as a whole-house purifier. As long as your HVAC fan is on, it constantly filters the air that passes through. The effectiveness and longevity of a filter depends on the type. These are the most common air filters for HVAC ductwork in homes:

Flat Filters

Matted fiberglass filters are often found in forced-air furnaces. They’re designed to capture large dust particles before they enter ductwork and other crucial components. However, the smallest microscopic particulates can pass through. These are major culprits of respiratory irritation, so depending on your home and whether you have allergies, asthma, or other issues, these filters aren’t always the most effective.

Fiberglass filters are good at keeping large particles out of sensitive HVAC components. However, they typically don’t have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of over 4. This means their overall particle filtration ability is relatively low.

Extended Media Filters

An extended media filter is a stacked set of filtration materials. The filtration media is set in an 8-inch-thick accordion-like pile. While pleated filters with cotton or polyester folds are a step up from fiberglass filters and have MERV ratings of 5 to 8, extended media filters can have a greater range of filtration power. 

But these filters aren’t for a DIYer. They require a professional to install in line with your ductwork within a specialized filter holder. The initial installation can cost $400 to $600, according to This Old House. However, the filter needs replacement only once a year, which generally costs $60 or less.

Electrostatic Filters

An electrostatic precipitator is a hi-tech option that also integrates into ductwork. It creates static electricity, which most people prefer to avoid. Instead of making your hair frizzy and causing annoying shocks, the high-voltage current helps trap particles, which take on an electric charge so a collector plate can attract them like a magnet.

Electrostatic precipitators effectively catch extremely small particles, like smoke particles and most allergens. Another advantage is they never have to be replaced, although the aluminum collector plates must be cleaned every few months. The plates can be cleaned off by rinsing them in soap and water. 

An electrostatic filter often includes a flat or pleated carbon filter to improve efficiency. 

Electronic Filters

Instead of static electricity, electronic filters produce a high-voltage charge generated by a transformer. An electronic filter is a mechanical air filter that plugs into an outlet. It won’t work if your HVAC system has a return grille filter. Nonetheless, MERV ratings of 8 to 16 mean they’re highly effective at filtering small particles. The higher upfront price tag is offset by the need for duct filter replacement only about once a year.

Electronic filters are generally safe and effective. However, when shopping around, look for third-party testing data on any product you consider. The filter should use an ionizer process similar to a whole-home air purification system and not generate ozone, which can be a health hazard.

HEPA Filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters come in many forms. Some fit inside air handlers, while others are designed for ductwork. They remove 99.97% of airborne contaminants. These include tiny dust, pollen, and smoke particles as well as pet dander, mold spores, and bacteria. Whether you suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, a HEPA filter can eliminate the tiny particles that trigger your symptoms.

Ultraviolet (UV) Filters

A built-in UV filter uses ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses. Short-wave UV light effectively neutralizes organic contaminants in the airflow. However, a UV filter does not remove dust and other particulate-based pollutants. Therefore, UV and HEPA filters are often combined into the same unit. Research your options before choosing one, as some filtration systems produce ozone from oxygen molecules.

Gas-Phase Filters

Less commonly used in homes, gas-phase filters use gas sorption to attract gas molecules to a solid surface. They effectively remove odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). An activated carbon and charcoal media is used but a short lifespan means the filter must be replaced frequently. Also, it only removes gaseous pollutants and is ineffective against other particulates; therefore, gas-phase filters are typically used as an add-on filtration option.


Why Do MERV Ratings Matter?

Every air filter has a MERV rating, which ranges from 1 to 16 and measures a filter’s ability to capture particles. The higher a filter’s rating, the more effectively it traps particles and the more expensive it is. 

Higher-rated filters can also reduce airflow and reduce an HVAC system’s efficiency. Therefore, filters with MERV ratings of 8 to 13 are recommended for homes. Your HVAC contractor can help find the best option for your system.

Where Are Air Duct Filters Located?

A standard HVAC filter fits in a slot above, below, or on the side of the air handling unit. Ductwork filters are placed in a return air grille in a wall or ceiling, just inside the vent. Or, they can be installed somewhere between the return duct and the air handler.

How Many Filters Does My Ductwork Need?

A small HVAC system may require just one filter. If you have a two-story home, it probably has two air filters (one for the upstairs HVAC system and one for the downstairs system). An additional filter may be needed for an indoor air quality solution like a whole-home mechanical ventilation system. An add-on ductwork filter provides additional filtration, so your heating and cooling system may have multiple filters.

How Do I Pick the Best HVAC Filter?

A pleated filter at least 3 inches thick with a high MERV rating is often considered an ideal solution. However, various factors help determine the best HVAC filter for your home. Some of these considerations include:

  • Airflow: Higher-efficiency filters come with the downside of increased airflow resistance. An HVAC contractor can help find the best filter based on your system’s specifications.
  • System Usage: A ductwork or whole-home air filter works only when the system is running. If you don’t need heating or cooling, you can turn on the fan setting and the filter will clean the air that circulates.
  • Maintenance: If you’re looking for the lowest-cost filter, expect to change or wash it every few months. Maintenance is essential for good indoor air quality. By investing a little more, you can benefit from a media filter with fewer maintenance requirements.

Lastly, the filter’s size and design must fit your HVAC system. If not sized correctly, a filter can let air escape around its sides. This counteracts its benefits and allows contaminants in.

Contact Trio Heating & Air

We provide indoor air quality services, including whole-house air purifier installation, for homeowners in the The Greater San Francisco Bay Area area. From thorough inspections to high-quality workmanship, we have you covered. Our ductwork filters and air purification systems capture dust, dust mites, pet dander, VOCs, germs, smoke, mold spores, and odors. Check online for special offers to help you save. For a consultation and a ductwork filter replacement or upgrade by trained professionals, call (415) 223-1647 today.

Best Attic and Crawl Space Insulation Options

A few attic and crawl space insulation options are available. Poor insulation can reduce your comfort and cause you to spend more on heating and cooling. But the best type depends on your home. We’ll look at the most common types of attic insulation and insulating materials best suited for crawl spaces so you can make an informed decision.

Common Home Insulation Materials

Insulation prevents drafts and the transfer of heat and moisture. Since heat naturally rises, the attic is one of the most important areas to insulate. Each type of insulation has pros and cons and is not suited for every situation. These are the top choices, although the best depends on your needs, budget, and local climate.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam is the only liquid-based insulation. It has many benefits, including ease of application. The material is sprayed into place, where it thickens and grows, filling any gaps or spaces where heat can escape. It forms a durable, airtight seal.

An insulation’s R-value measures its ability to resist the movement of heat (the higher the number, the better a material’s thermal performance). Spray foam has an R-value of 5.6 to 8, which makes it an effective insulator. Other benefits of using it include:

  • Spray foam maintains its quality over time
  • The foam provides some structural support
  • No vapor barrier, so the foam won’t trap moisture
  • A Class-1 Fire Rating
  • Resistance to mold and mildew growth
  • Doesn’t provide a food source for pests

The higher cost of spray foam insulation is offset by its energy efficiency. Precautions are recommended during installation; a mask, respirator, and goggles should be worn. The materials in the foam can irritate your skin. We suggest letting a professional install spray foam insulation, as they understand the complexities involved.

Foam Board Insulation

Rigid foam boards are great for insulating basements and are preferred for crawl space insulation. They are suited for insulating foundation walls. Sealing the joints between the boards prevents air passage, while rigid foam:

  • Is non-water absorbent
  • Doesn’t support mold growth 
  • Provides a high level of energy efficiency

Available in standard sizes, foam boards are easy to cut to fit. This usually requires a circular saw and masonry blade, but sometimes a utility knife can be used to score the material; then you can snap it apart. It’s also easily attached with screws or a special adhesive. Smaller pieces can be sealed with caulk or spray foam.

The types of foam board insulation include:

  • Expanded polystyrene (EPS): EPS is the cheapest form and the same material as disposable coffee cups. However, it only has an R-value of 4 per inch of thickness.
  • Extruded Polystyrene: A denser material available in pink or blue panels, it has an R-value of 5 per inch of thickness. Panels with tongue-and-groove edges limit air movement.
  • Polyiso (Polyisocyanurate): This more costly material provides an R-value of 6 per inch of thickness. Various thicknesses are available, and the material is often foil-faced to reflect heat.

Fiberglass Batt Insulation

The most common type of attic insulation, fiberglass batts have a recognizable pink cotton candy or cloud appearance. They consist of tiny glass fibers produced via heat from recycled material and sand. The fibers are rolled into large sheets fused by a chemical vapor.

The benefits of fiberglass batt insulation, and why it’s such a popular option, include:

  • Production from a renewable energy source (sand).
  • A flame-proof vapor barrier can slow the spread of fires.
  • Air pockets prevent the material from shrinking or collapsing.
  • It is soundproof, reducing internal and external noises.
  • DIY installation is possible.

While many people don’t need a professional to install fiberglass batt insulation, it doesn’t come without risks. The glass in the material can cause injury, while the vapor from the barrier can be harmful (wearing gloves and a mask protects you from harm). 

Other downsides to this insulation include reduced performance if it gets wet. Fiberglass batts take a long time to dry and can breed mold after absorbing moisture. The insulation is also attractive to rodents and other pests.

Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation

Blown-in fiberglass insulation is also available. The base material is the same as with batts (without the vapor). It is installed using a blowing machine. In addition, blown-in fiberglass insulation provides an airtight layer, filling cracks or gaps to limit the movement of hot or cold air. It also has sound-insulating properties.

Other perks include:

  • Faster Installation: The blown-in method is quicker than installing fiberglass batts. Rather than days, it takes just hours. 
  • Improved Air Quality: The absence of a vapor improves indoor air quality, which is beneficial for people with allergies.
  • Proper Care Maintains Efficiency: With routine maintenance, you can prevent the R-value from decreasing due to settling.

Blown-In Cellulose Insulation

This attic insulation is also applied using a blowing machine. It consists of recycled wood, cardboard, newspapers, and other materials, which are made flameproof with boric acid and other substances. Blowing the material in fills spaces and gaps in attic walls. 

Blown-in cellulose is eco-friendly; no new material needs to be produced and it can be reused. It also has a 23% higher R-value than fiberglass batts. Wind-washing is reduced as well. This phenomenon is when insulation is pushed away from the edges, which reduces thermal performance.

These advantages help offset cons such as messy installation. The cellulose should also be kept dry. Any dampness can allow mold to grow. Such a situation takes much time and effort to resolve, as the insulation must be cleaned up bit by bit.

How Do I Choose the Right Insulation?

The best insulation to choose depends on where you’re installing it. Foam boards are best for crawl spaces. Also, think about how you’re using the space. Consider properties such as the type of material, its thickness, insulating value, sound absorption, energy efficiency, and ability to control moisture. However, if you intend to turn your attic into a living space, you may want to insulate the roof instead. 

How Do I Find the Best R-value for Insulation?

The level of heat resistance you need depends on your home’s location and climate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established eight climate zones across the country. The recommendations for insulation efficiency in an attic, floor, etc. vary depending on the zone you live in. Generally, the farther north you live, the colder your location, and the higher in altitude you are, the higher the R-value you’ll need.

How Do I Know My Home Needs More Insulation?

Signs your home is under-insulated include a sudden increase in energy bills, meaning your HVAC system is working harder. Cold spots, especially near windows and doors, can mean air is leaking through cracks or seams. Hearing lots of noise from outside can mean your walls and ceilings need to be better insulated.

Contact Trio Heating & Air

When it comes to attic and crawl space insulation, there are a few ways to consider your options. Choosing the right insulation requires knowledge of available materials and your home. We can install various types of insulation to regulate indoor temperatures. Our team can also help you take advantage of moisture control, sound dampening, and energy savings as well as insulation rebates, coupons, and tax credits. Call (415) 223-5096 to learn more and request help with crawl space and attic insulation.

How Often Should I Change My Filters?

Most HVAC pros suggest replacing air filters every 3 months; it’s the most basic form of AC maintenance. Can you afford to wait longer than 90 days? This depends on a few factors, such as the type of filter, system usage, and your household. There are many reasons to consider changing your filters more frequently. We’ll examine reasons not to wait as long and how to know a filter has gone bad.

When to Change an HVAC Filter

Air filters don’t last forever. You don’t want to wait too many months past your filter’s life expectancy, or else repair issues and high energy bills can become problematic. Whether you replace your filter every month or 90 days depends on the following:

  • Type of Filter: The type of filter is the most important factor in how often you change it. Fiberglass air filters generally don’t last more than 30 days. While more expensive, a pleated air filter can last as long as 90 days, depending on how much you use your HVAC system. Check with the air filter manufacturer for product replacement recommendations. 
  • Size of Your Home: The larger your home, the more air circulates through your HVAC system, which means an air filter can get dirtier faster. In a smaller home, less air circulates, so the filter may last longer. However, smaller air filters may get dirtier just as fast as larger ones; depending on the filter, the replacement schedule may be the same.
  • How Often You Use Your HVAC System: Running your heating or cooling system constantly will increase your AC maintenance needs. You may need a new filter every few weeks. But if you run the system sporadically or just part of the day, one filter can last for months. Some can last anywhere from a whole season to a full year.
  • Number of People: Households with more people tend to generate more dust and dirt, which can shorten a filter’s lifespan. This is especially true if you have young children at home. In these environments, even thicker pleated filters should be replaced more often. If you have a small family, live alone, or are in your home part-time, fewer filter changes are necessary. 
  • Pets: Pets that shed hair, release dander, and track in dirt and pollen can contribute to indoor air pollution, which ends up in air filters. You’ll need to change the filter at least every two months. Do so during the transition from winter to spring and summer to fall when cats and dogs shed the most.
  • Allergies: If you have allergies, install a new air filter before the old one becomes clogged. It can help reduce bouts of coughing, sneezing, or runny nose. If you or anyone in your household has asthma or other respiratory conditions, consider changing the filter every 20 to 45 days to protect sensitive lungs.
  • Outdoor Air Quality: Poor outdoor air quality can affect an HVAC filter. Smoke, dust, and debris can get into your home and clog it, which is common in big cities. Wildfire smoke can also shorten the time needed between filter replacements. Check the filter more often on smoky days or when outdoor air quality is poor.
  • Season: How frequently you use your HVAC system depends on the season. Spring and fall tend to be milder, so the system is used less. The air filter won’t clog as fast unless you keep doors and windows open or run the fan constantly. However, filters trap more dirt and contaminants during the heating and cooling seasons (AC maintenance between times of peak demand ensures you have a clean filter for the season).

How to Know a Filter Needs Changing

Visually inspecting the filter is the only way to know if it’s good or needs to be replaced. We recommend checking it monthly (more often if you get a new pet or the outdoor air quality is poor). This way, you can replace a clogged filter in time and figure out how quickly it gets dirty. When inspecting a filter, hold it in front of a light source. The light should pass through; if not, replace the filter with a clean one.

Remember, there’s no strict guideline for how much dirt is acceptable. A filter with a thin layer of dirt may be fine if you can still see its material. If its surface is completely obscured by debris, replace the filter. A musty odor also means you need a new filter.

Other than seeing a dirty filter, other signs it may need changing include:

  • Dust and debris on vents
  • Dust on fan blades, cabinets, and other surfaces
  • Your AC/heater sounds strained when starting
  • The HVAC system runs for longer periods
  • An indicator light reveals it’s time to change the filter

What If I Don’t Change the Filter?

The longer you wait, the more dust, dirt, and allergens will collect on the filter. Your HVAC system will work less effectively, reducing comfort, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality. A buildup of mold, fungal, and bacterial particles can damage the system or cause health issues in your household. 

Also, a thick coating of dirt can impede airflow, which increases wear and tear on your heating or cooling system. Dust can jam fan motors, valves, and other moving parts. The excess strain can lead to frequent repairs.  Over time, strained components can fail, causing others to break down, until you’re dealing with a major issue like compressor failure.

Does My HVAC System Need to Be Repaired? 

Over time, if you don’t change the filter as recommended or schedule routine AC maintenance, your HVAC system can be damaged. Replacing the filter won’t fix the problem at this point. Call an experienced contractor if you notice signs such as:

  • Reduced Temperature Control: If your AC is blowing warm air or the furnace is not heating your home, there may be a problem with a thermostat, compressor, or other component. 
  • Restricted Airflow: This can be caused by a clogged filter or ductwork blockage, but other mechanical issues can affect airflow too. 
  • Loud Noises: If your HVAC system is louder than usual, it may have a mechanical issue caused by strain resulting from a dirty filter or a lack of maintenance.
  • Frequent Cycling: Waiting too long to replace the filter can lead to AC problems that cause it to turn on and off too frequently. This means the system is working harder than it should.
  • Higher Energy Bills: A dirty filter can cause your AC or heater to run less efficiently, causing your energy bills to spike. High bills can also mean your HVAC system needs to be repaired.

Contact Trio Heating & Air

We are a leading air conditioning service company in the The Greater San Francisco Bay Area area. Whether you need a new filter, a tune-up, or an AC repair, our licensed and trained technicians are committed to customer satisfaction and a job well done. Our team is prompt and ready to ensure your home stays comfortable. They can fix any issue with your HVAC system and provide annual AC maintenance to prevent breakdowns and improve efficiency. To request routine service or repairs, call (415) 223-1647 today.