Sand in the ducts

I have a past customer who contacted me insisting that I pay to have his ducts cleaned. Apparently when he took possession of the property he removed the registers and saw sand in the ducts and now thinks that it is something that I should have reported.
My thoughts are:

  1. The SOP does not state that we need to do an inspection of the interior of the ducts and contractually he has agreed to the SOPs.
  2. Cleaning ducts is a part of the general home maintenance that one takes on when purchasing a used home.

But he still wants me to pay for the duct cleaning since a contractor told him that because it is sand it will cost about 1k to clean it all out.

I am also wondering; why would there be sand in a heat register? I say no sand in the filter and no sand around one of the open cold air returns.

Dave Strunk
Surety Home Inspections, LLC
Hackensack, Minnesota

A good read…

David you are not forthcoming with enough info about your duct system I must assume you are speaking of a slab on grade foundation with the ducts embedded beneath the slab and of course the ducts are normally buried in sand. The age of the home determines the type of material the ducts are constructed with. I have three types in my State that I see on a regular basis Transite, metal and last but not least came plastic PVC schedule 20. All three types can get sand on the inside during construction at any or all of the fittings very common here. During the construction stage if the ducts are exposed to rain water before the concrete is poured it is a guarantee that the ducts will have sand migrate at the fittings. Another source of sand in the duct system is if ground water enters beneath the slab due to improper drainage away from the slab you will also find sand along with some water marks in the duct system as viewed from the registers with a light and a mirror. If you do not inspect the ducts at the registers that in my opinion is a mistake on your part no matter what your SOP states. SOP is a minimum standard

We always check the ducts. I stick my camera in the duct and snap a picture. Every duct will have a bit of debris that has fallen down but sand can be from moisture intrusion/deterioration of the duct. It’s not unusual to find moisture or standing water in ducts if the exterior grading isn’t correct. If the duct is rusted/deteriorated/damaged, we recommend full camera inspection of the duct.

I almost always find dirt in the heat register boots beside exterior doors kitchens, bathrooms or where ever there are tiles. I tell my clients to suck it up with a vaccuum cleaner.
I advise them not to use a duct cleaning company (see Roy’s attachment why).
I explain that the purpose of the furnace filter is to keep dirt out, and that eventually any that is there will get blown toward to the heat registers, so pulling them and checking them for dirt and vaccuuming heat registers out every so often and maintaining filters is a must do home maintenance item.

If it is underslab ducting, what Charlie says.

New construction should probably be cleaned by the contractor, or with a really big shop vac, some contractors will use a duct cleaning contractor, wonderful!, ducts should be clean when the house is turned over to the buyer, check em all if you are doing a new house inspection. I sometimes see that some of the trades working inside a mostly finished house sometimes use heat registers as garbage cans, especially flooring guys :-(!!!

Of the homes I’ve built with underslab ducts, it was required to encase them in concrete.

Remember where you live its the land of strange:p the only time the ducts here were encased in concrete was at the fittings when using metal duct and most of the time it was just the top of the duct which was kinda dumb

Alberta must be kinda strange too :slight_smile: It is in CA after all. We used to wrap underground in poly and cover it with concrete. Every so often it would float if it wasn’t secured properly. (never happened to me)

Never had one float up but basically buried in sand it was not going anywhere. Once had to help when I was a pup dig sand out of the ducts and I mean dig it out they were half full of sand from a plumber driving a stake through a water line that was pressured up and he did not tell anyone he just repaired the line.
We took a coffee can and tied wire to both ends and use it to scrap the sand loose to allow a large air compressor to be used to blow the sand out spent several days under warranty cleaning that mess and I was not the installer just the newbie:roll: