Thursday, August 15, 2013

Air-Duct Cleaning

Yesterday the arteries of our home were cleaned out, and I mean really cleaned out; like basically an angioplasty of our air-ducts.

Recently, we got a new furnace.  The previous furnace was so old that my husband was quite confident that if we opened up the avocado green casing we would discover two cave men rubbing sticks together.  It was helicopter loud, smelled nasty, and very very un-efficient (I realize it should be inefficient, but in this case I want to make it clear that this is actually the exact opposite of efficiency).  We nursed this poor furnace for years and then one Friday in January, I came home from work, the kids were doing their homework; I said, "OMG!  Aren't you guys freezing!?  What is with the heat?!  Did you leave a door open?!"  Being that they are my kids (read earlier blog about them never being cold), they said they didn't notice.  It wasn't even 55 in the house.  Our faithful little cavemen had officially quit for good.

We turned on the fireplace in the living room and toughed it out for the weekend to avoid over-time and got a new furnace on Monday.  The new furnace is quiet and beautifully efficient and expensive.  When they were installing, one of the guys said, "Wow, you really should have your air-ducts cleaned out.  It is a mess in there! Which will make your brand new furnace dirty and make it considerably less efficient."  I knew he was right.  From time to time, I would take off a vent register during a thorough cleaning and remove a sweater's worth of dust but we didn't really have the money to get the job done right.

The other day, I found a Groupon for $40 on a basic air-duct cleaning.  I was pretty sure that our situation was not "basic" but bought the Groupon anyway.  The guys (covered in friendly tatoos) showed up and opened all my vents.  It was one of the grossest things EVER.  Like seriously right up there with unclogging the shower drain last week.  Being that I strive for a clean home, I was humiliated.  They were here for 4 hours, brushing, cleaning, vacuuming every vent / duct / filter in the house.  It ended up being another $350 (and I tipped another $50 on top of that in conjunction with two bottles of water). Basically, it wasn't cheap, but I was so grateful.

Now, I know that the EPA doesn't "recommend" air duct cleaning as a way to help allergies but there is absolutely no way that this amount of internal dust was okay.  As the guys were doing their thing, I was running from vent cover to vent cover and scrubbing them down and scrubbing the floor around the vents.

I can't tell you how holistically cleansing it felt.  I had been living under this illusion that our house was respectable while the very core was covered in a sticky carpet of dust.  I am quite sure that in the 60 years of it's existence, the air-ducts had never been fully cleaned (a clue being that one particular return air vent appeared to have been painted into place with no fewer than 5 dramatically different colors -- why do people paint vents?!).  These tatoo-ed conveyors of truth unearthed deep filth and were here (as professionals and without judgement) to help me resolve the issues.

It never ceases to surprise me on how all of life holds very similar lessons.  The rules and consequences of the natural world remain true of the soul as well.  A home may appear to be clean on the outside while opening closets and drawers reveals something totally different... and even if those hidden areas are clean and orderly, digging deeper may unearth a base level of grime that is continually blowing into an externally clean house.

I feel like many people live with their outward selves pulled together, clean, beautiful while their insides are a mess.  I like a clean life, but I want it to be clean from the inside all the way out.  I'm trying to raise my children with the same awareness.  I don't want to only see an externally clean room, I want under their beds and inside their closets to be clean as well but as symbolic of their real lives.  I don't mind at all that they want to look their best or have fun or act crazy (don't we all?!) but only if they are first, foremost, and internally at their core:  kind, generous, grateful, thoughtful, self-disciplined, empathetic, patient, and forgiving (of themselves and others).  

Those are qualities and characteristics that run deep and not only change themselves but have the potential to change the world, or at least their circle of influence in the world.  If they spend their time and energy on the very deepest soul level, the outsides will be easier to keep beautiful, happy, fun, authentic, confident, relaxed, healthy, and comfortable -- rather than an amazing park, built on top of a landfill with tires constantly unearthing and needing to be re-buried.  I want their identity to be based on who they strive to be on the inside rather than just what they appear to look like on the outside.  

So today, I am looking forward to starting an endless pot of coffee and cleaning up the dust erupted from our air-duct angioplasty-- and while I surface clean, I will think about re-prioritizing our needs and wants and stuff and baggage... in an effort to be clean from the inside out-- our home, but also our souls.

--As a side note, I know that not every life is at the stage of cleaning out air-ducts; some lives are gardens built on a landfill that will have it's past continually raising to the surface to be dealt with in a myriad of ways (to some degree, all of our lives are like that).  There is something amazing and glorious and powerful about souls that can morph awful deep baggage and garbage into a beautiful and peaceful oasis, especially when those tires being unearthed can be re-purposed into a swing or a planter or the soul of a shoe...

--And as far as a review of air-duct cleaning... in our case, it was very necessary but the EPA really doesn't think it makes much of a difference on internal air quality unless there is a lot of dust to be removed.  They don't feel it is yearly maintenance on a home, and I would probably agree.  Maybe more often than once every 60 years though.  And be prepared for a lot of dust after the process.  Even with the windows all opened, there is a layer of dust on every surface in our house.  It is going to be a long day.


  1. Love the line about "changing the world or at least their circle of influence." Would that be all of our goal! Once again, you opened a door to more musing.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the useful tips for duct cleaning ! I hardly get around to doing it but I am sure that mine need cleaning.

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  3. Wow! You are providing nice and useful article. Thanks for sharing .This article really helps a lot for us when i am searching about cleaning services.

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  4. A good air duct cleaning, properly done by a certified contractor, is going to cost at least a few hundred dollars. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  5. In humid climates, sick houses are usually houses with a serious moisture problem. Moisture also plays an important role in promoting the growth and spread of mold or something called mildew.