Check the Ducts in Your Home
Many people dream of finding hidden treasures in their new home. I even had
some friends whose parents found silverware in a concealed barn safe that
actually more than repaid the cost of their home purchase. Very few buyers
are so lucky.
One place you are unlikely to find anything valuable is in the air ducts
of a home. Combs, Cheerios, toy soldiers and far worse, but nothing of
monetary value greater than pennies is the norm, along with lots of dust.
If you are considering buying a home with forced hot air heat or central
air conditioning, air ducts are a certainty. They come in two shapes, round
or rectangular. They may snake hidden through walls and floors: the supply
ducts bring hot or cold air from the central unit to the individual rooms;
the return ducts bring house air back to the central unit for heating or
cooling. Ducts are usually only visible in the basement or attic. In older
homes, the ducts are mostly metal; in newer homes the ducts are a mixture
of metal and flexible, insulated plastic hose. As you may imagine, thorough
duct cleaning is not an easy task. Somewhere between the return and the
supply, usually just in front of the blower, is a filter that must be replaced
regularly which is supposed to, but rarely does clean the air.
Make it a habit to check the listing sheet to see the type of heating system
that exists in the homes at which you look. Ask the broker to show you
an air register if you don't know what one looks like. Look inside several,
preferably with a flashlight. If you see a thick mat of debris, count on
spending several hundred dollars to have the ducts professionally cleaned.
Be sure to check at a return grille, because these draw in dusty house
air and are usually the dirtiest.
Blowers, filters and air conditioning coils can become dirty
in any type of ventilation system, so "duct cleaning" should
really include all components of the system with which the circulated air
This work must be done professionally. Only hire
a contractor who will uses brushes along with vacuuming; vacuuming only
in combination with compressed air to dislodge dust is inadequate. Avoid
low cost, advertised specials. A thorough, professional cleaning takes
several hours. If you have questions, call NADCA, the National
Air Duct Cleaners Association at 202-737-2926.
From "JUST PROPERTY"
By J. May