How and When to Clean Your Air Ducts

How and When to Clean Your Air Ducts

HVAC systems get dusty just like every other part of your home. But how much dust is too much dust? 

While there’s little evidence to suggest that cleaning your air ducts will massively improve the air quality in your home, there are certainly occasions when it’s appropriate. 

Below we look at when and how to have your air ducts cleaned professionally.  

What is air duct cleaning?

Air duct cleaning, as the name implies, is the process of cleaning the ducts that help circulate warm and cool air throughout your home. 

However, it can also include cleaning other components of your home's heating and cooling system, such as your furnace fan, coils, heat exchangers, and much more.

Generally speaking, a well-maintained HVAC system doesn't need a lot of cleaning. They’re designed so that filters catch dust particles (pollen, pet hair, and other air pollutants) before they have a chance to enter the air duct. 

However, because your HVAC system pushes and pulls so much air through your air ducts each day, dust will inevitably begin to accumulate. 

How much depends on a number of factors, like your location (if you live in a dust or smoke prone area), lifestyle, and the number of people who live in your home. 

One of the more common questions homeowners ask is if air duct cleaning is something they can do themselves. 

The answer, in short, is no. Even if you were inclined, chances are you wouldn't have the necessary tools to do the job, such as special rotary brushes and high-powered vacuums. 

That’s why a majority of homeowners hire professional air duct cleaning businesses to do the job. It’s easier, safer, and ultimately less expensive than doing it yourself. 

If you’re already looking for professional air duct learners but need tips on how to hire the right people for the job, feel free to skip to the bottom of this article. Next, we look at a few key considerations when deciding whether or not duct cleaning is right for you.

How to know when your air ducts need cleaning

The age old question: How much dust is too much dust? 

Without a comprehensive inspection, it's difficult to know for sure whether your ducts need cleaning. But there are a few environmental indicators that can help you determine if an inspection is required.

First, consider whether anyone in your household has indoor allergies, unexplained symptoms, or an illness. If they do, it's possible that an irritant or allergy is present in the duct system.

Decreased efficiency can also be a sign, as air flow can be obstructed by blockages in the vents. Do a quick visual inspection of the air vents for large deposits of dust or a musty odor.

If you recently completed a big construction or remodeling, you should consider having your air ducts cleaned, as construction dust may get into every nook and corner of the house, including the air ducts.

This is especially true if you keep your HVAC system running during the renovation process. 

These are all good reasons to have your air ducts inspected, but none are definitive. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while dust and pollen can certainly have a negative impact on your home’s indoor air quality and the performance of your HVAC system, the most pressing reason why you should get your air ducts cleaned is because of the presence of mold. 

The bottom line: If you inspect your air ducts and notice substantial visible mold growth, you should have them cleaned immediately. 

How to hire air duct cleaners

Finding the right air duct cleaner is important, so make sure to do your research. And don’t be afraid to shop around! 

You should also consider checking in with friends and family to see if they have anyone they can recommend. Similarly, if you have a contractor who regularly services your HVAC system, ask if they have any recommendations for air duct cleaners. 

When you’ve narrowed down your list, make sure to ask the following questions:

  • How long has your company been in business?
  • Do you have references?
  • Can you provide proof of liability insurance?
  • What guidelines do you follow?
  • Do you use biocides or other chemicals?
  • Will you clean my entire air duct system?

And what about the cost of air duct cleaning? While some cleaners tend to advertise extremely low prices to get your business, you may find yourself being upsold and paying more than you intended. 

So make sure to confirm that the quoted price is what you will actually pay. In general, a thorough air duct cleaning can cost anywhere from $450 to $1000 or more.

And that’s it! While air duct cleaning isn’t always necessary, it’s something every homeowner should consider. Hopefully this guide will help you make your own decisions about getting your air ducts cleaned.