Should duct cleaning and furnace servicing be done at the same time or separately?


Unless you are in the business, have had to replace your furnace, or have been in the unfortunate situation of having no heat, most homeowners are unfamiliar with the services and qualifications needed to properly service their furnace. Furnace and duct cleaning, furnace servicing, furnace inspection, it can be confusing to know what service you should complete to get the longest life out of your furnace with fewer breakdowns. To provide some much needed clarity on this issue, we are going to debunk one of the many HVAC myths floating around the Edmonton area: that duct cleaning and furnace servicing are two separate services and as such require two differenttrades to service them.

Your furnace and vents are two pieces of the whole heating and air flow system in your home. All furnaces have sheet metal ducting attached to the furnace, supplying air to the furnace from recycled air in the home and fresh air from outside. The air from the return ducts feeds through the furnace and then is blown through the supply ducts that feed into the various registers throughout all the rooms in your house. Without your furnace, all of these return and supply ducts would just sit there as some pretty unappealing home décor. Your furnace is a mechanical appliance which can only be installed by a certified Gasfitter (A) Journeyman as it is connected to a natural gas outlet. Your furnace and ducts work together as a mechanical system. Servicing these connected parts separately is inappropriate and unnecessary.

Because your furnace and ducts are connected, they can be cleaned and serviced at the same time. In fact, it is recommended by the manufacturers and HVAC experts that furnace and ducts be cleaned and serviced together as this is the way a furnace and duct system was designed to be serviced. It is true that ducts can be cleaned on their own by bypassing the furnace with a sheet metal patch. However, you then would need to hire a company with qualified servicemen to mechanically service your furnace. Consider that your furnace is connected to the duct work and has been exposed to the same levels of dust and debris as your ducts. There is no way your furnace compartment, blower assembly, and other components will be cleaned with mechanical servicing alone.

The need to clean your duct work periodically is undeniable. So when considering cleaning your ducts, always remember that while it is just sheet metal, it is a mechanical extension of your furnace and should be given the same mechanical treatment. Always have your furnace and ducts cleaned together by qualified serviceman, such as a Gasfitter (A) Apprentice to get the full benefit of the service. Having clean ducts will do nothing to improve the efficiency or performance of a furnace that has a blower assembly clogged with dust and debris as seen in the picture below.

"How much air can this dirty fan really push?"

“How much air can this dirty fan really push?”

The next time you are considering cleaning your duct work, get it done right the first time with a complete furnace and duct cleaning. You could pay for a duct cleaning separately and then pay for a furnace service separately. But then be left with clean duct work and a service inspection for your furnace that is still dirty not to mention two bills instead of one. Or you could have the furnace and ducts cleaned together with a full mechanical inspection on your furnace. Then you would be left with clean ductwork, a clean furnace, and a service inspection on your furnace with one bill. One  invoice that most certainly will be a lower cost than the price of two separate services. Understanding the design of your furnace and ducts as a mechanical system and applying common sense shed clarity on this confusing recommendation. HVAC myth busted.

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