Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Duct Cleaning

We had the furnace duct cleaners in yesterday. I don't know how often everyone else has their ducts cleaned but we rarely do. In fact we have only had them done once since we bought the house and that was back in the early 90's when we switched from oil to gas heat. We do not have central air conditioning. It is not needed here.

The huge vacuum truck backed up the driveway and they connected the 18 inch diameter hose to the system and blocked off all the air ducts. One by one they uncovered them and fed their compressed air line in. It has a spinning end that has rubber pieces attached that whip around and clean out the ducts. We could hear a lot of noise in the vacuum hose as dirt and "crud" made it's way to the truck so I guess they were pretty dirty.

After that they turned to the wood burning fireplace insert. We rarely use the fireplace but it was not drawing properly the one time I recently fired it up. Smoke would pour out every time I opened the door no matter how the rods that control the vents were configured. I knew something was wrong and that was the main reason we called this company as they do both jobs.

He poked his head into the fireplace and pointed his flash light up the chimney and quickly confirmed there was a problem. The stainless steel chimney liner was no longer connected to the fireplace box! It had been eaten away so bad over the years (it was installed around 1986) that the bottom part was completely missing! Well, that is a problem. He said it was most likely caused by someone burning beach wood or treated lumber in the fireplace. Well, I was guilty of both offences. When Norma's dad lived with us for two years he wanted the room temperature above 80 so we had the fireplace going 24/7. He spent his time in the living room and we opened windows in the rest of the house to compensate. The odd time I walked down to the beach to find a big chunk of wood that would last all night. I knew it was not smart at the time but thought it only caused problems with the fire brick lining the inside the insert, which were easily replaceable. Plus, I always burned leftover lumber in there, pressure treated or not. Evidently a bad thing to do. He took measurements and they will call me back with a price to replace the chimney liner. I am not looking forward to that call.

Their last job was to clean out the dryer vent which runs the full length of the house in the crawl space. I installed it myself when we bought the house out of "re-purposed" four inch telephone conduit. It was joined to the clothes dryer with that corrugated plastic dryer hose that was used back then. Many years ago we replaced the plastic hose with the newer (code approved) silver foil corrugated hose. The problem was, we hired a skinny neighbour to go through the small crawl space entry to do the job. Instead of cutting off the three or four feet he needed to reach the telephone duct, he used the full 15 foot length of hose. leaving the excess laying on the ground. This caused restricted air flow and hundreds of nooks and cranny's to trap lint in. The guys shortened this line and cleaned everything out. They got about a grocery bag full of lint out of the system plus whatever was in the piece they cut out. I don't know how it dried clothes.

The bill for what they did yesterday was $360, hopefully money that will be recovered in reduced energy costs. The price shock for the chimney liner is yet to come.


  1. Wow, that was a good thing to do. I need to do that in the house in San Antonio. The duct work is fairly new, about seven years old but tenant runs it 24/7.

    I also need a damper for our fireplace here at home. Put some wood in there and it literally goes up in smoke, there is no air control so it burns very fast. Here in Mexico, where do I find a chimney sweep? I've looked, and no luck. I guess it is a matter of just finding a plan on line and having one built and stick it in there.

  2. Gotta get all those things done, we don't miss all the extra expense of owning a house, this suits us just fine.

  3. Good catch on the fireplace liner for sure. That could have caused a nasty surprise - like sirens in the middle of the night!

    That price sounds pretty good for all the work they did. We've never had our ducts cleaned that I know of. Something else to consider I guess.

    We switched our fireplace to natural gas a few years ago. It doesn't have the same ambience or appeal as wood BUT, it is a lot cleaner and more convenient.

  4. The guys that cleaned ours said that it is not unusual to find dead squirrels in duct work...along with mice etc. Now how a squirrel gets into duct work, I will never know.

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