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Now that it’s fall, the air in your Pensacola, FL, home likely smells of pumpkin spice and everything nice. However, these incredible smells may cover something more insidious: air contaminants. From particle matter to mold spores and pollen, all these can lower indoor air quality (IAQ).

Even at low levels, indoor air contaminants can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. They may also cause fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. Everyone is at risk of these effects, considering the average person in the U.S. spends 90% of the time indoors.

Fortunately, maintaining your HVAC vents can help minimize IAQ risks. This guide shares tips on what you can do to prepare and keep them in top condition this fall, so read on. 

Clean Your Air Ducts

HVAC vents are the openings through which air enters and exits your air ducts. They come in two types: supply and return vents. Supply vents blow conditioned air into your indoor space, and return vents pull air out of it.

Your vents’ connection to the air ducts influences the speed at which they can get dirty. The dirtier the ducts are, the quicker your vents and filters can get filthy. 

So unless you clean your ducts, it likely won’t take long for your recently washed vents to get dirty again. This issue can also lead to you having to troubleshoot your AC or heater for problems. 

If you have a powerful vacuum, you can use it to clean the ducts. But if not, or you haven’t cleaned them for years, it may be best to hire an HVAC company. They use specialized equipment and tools that let them thoroughly clean ductwork. 

Hunt Down and Repair Duct Leaks

Unaddressed ductwork issues, including severe leaks, can lead to fall HVAC emergencies. They can do so by affecting the flow and quality of air into your system. Both can reduce efficiency and performance and place unnecessary strain on your equipment.

Those adverse effects can make your HVAC system work harder than necessary. For example, ducts that leak 20% of conditioned air can make the system work 50% harder! That can lead to emergency breakdowns and high HVAC repair bills.

Leaky ducts can also cause your air vents to go dirty quickly. This can happen when the leaks allow unconditioned air into the ducts. Since this air hasn’t gone through the filter, it could be full of pollutants. 

Identifying Leaks

To prepare your vents for fall, you must first identify and fix duct leaks.

To do this, turn your HVAC system on and head to the areas where your ducts are accessible. Then, give their connections and joints a physical, visual inspection. If they have holes or are loose, you should feel air blowing in or out of them. 

The Solution

If you discover minor duct leaks, you can seal them with high-quality HVAC tape. You can also patch them up with duct sealant, a thick substance that looks like paint. You can purchase both from your local hardware or home improvement store.

If the leaks and damage are extensive, your best bet is to invest in professional HVAC services. Experts can locate even hidden duct leaks and address them with specialized equipment. They can also repair or replace damaged duct insulation. 

Clean Your HVAC Vents

After doing the above, it’s time to locate and clean all HVAC vents in your home. You’ll likely find them on the floor, wall, ceiling, or under a window in each room.

Once you know their locations, follow these steps to clean them. 

Prepare Your Materials and Tools

Don’t worry; you don’t need special equipment to clean your air vents. You already likely have these items and tools at home:

  • Tarpaulin or a sheet to cover nearby surfaces, appliances, or furniture
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Crevice tool attachment
  • Screwdriver
  • A container to keep the screws
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • A soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush
  • Disinfecting wipes

After gathering everything, power off your HVAC system. You should also wear goggles, a face mask, rubber gloves, and old clothes. 

Vacuum the Vents on the Spot

Use the crevice tool attachment of your vacuum cleaner to spot-clean the vent covers. If there’s buildup around the opening, vacuum it too. This will help prevent dust and debris from getting knocked loose and mixing with the indoor air.

After that, use your screwdriver to remove the vent covers and place the screws in a secure container. This way, you don’t have to worry about losing them and having loose covers.

If the weather in Pensacola permits, clean your vent covers outside. But if it’s raining, you can wash them in your bathroom instead.

Wash the Covers

Dilute some dish soap in warm water and use this to moisten a piece of microfiber cloth. Then, wipe the louvers or slats of the covers. Use the soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to eliminate more stubborn dirt buildup. 

Rinse and Disinfect the Covers

Thoroughly rinse the covers with warm water and inspect them to ensure you don’t miss any spots. Then, use a fresh piece of microfiber cloth to dry them.

For a more thorough job, finish off with disinfecting wipes. This can help remove disease-causing microorganisms that may contaminate HVAC components. 

Dry and Reinstall the Covers

If you’ve used disinfecting wipes, don’t wipe your vents; let them air dry. This ensures you satisfy the disinfectant solution’s contact time.

Also known as “dwell time,” contact time refers to how long a disinfectant must stay wet on a surface to be effective. This varies from product to product, so check the label on yours.

Once dry, you can screw back the covers to your vent openings. 

Enjoy Better Indoor Air Quality With Vent Maintenance

Cleaning your air vents at least once during fall (and spring) is often enough. This can help keep them from developing severe contaminant buildup. It also lets you enjoy better HVAC performance and higher indoor air quality.

If you need the pros to handle your HVAC vents and ducts, look no further than All Seasons Service Network! Our highly trained technicians can provide all the maintenance services you need.

If you’re in Pensacola, FL, reach out to us today. We’ll make sure your vents and ducts are clean, sanitary, and problem-free.

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