5 Things to Know Before Cleaning Your Home’s Air Ducts
If your goal is indoor air that’s as fresh and healthy as possible, you may think about hiring a firm to clean your home’s air ducts—the long channels that carry heated or cooled air throughout the house. Ducts lead from the furnace and run through basements, crawl spaces, and walls to reach every room, and cleaning them involves vacuuming up dust and debris from, as well as removing mold (if present).
- Improper duct-cleaning can create more problems than it solves.
Untrained technicians or scammers who lack the right vacuuming equipment to safely clean the ducts can dislodge dust that was previously adhered to the inside of the ducts and release it into your home. Only qualified HVAC inspection and cleaning technicians can safely clean the ducts and exhaust the air to the outside of your home. In addition, some types of ducts, such as insulated and flexible ducts, can be damaged by an untrained technician, leaving you to pay for expensive duct repairs.
If and How to ac cleaning Yourself
- Duct-cleaning is not a DIY job.
If you consider yourself handy, you’re probably curious about how to clean air ducts yourself. On an annual basis, it’s a good idea to remove floor registers and carefully vacuum out visible dust or debris from the duct directly below the register (usually a space eight inches to 10 inches deep). But don’t attempt to stick a vacuum hose deeper into the duct. In the same way that an untrained service technician can damage ductwork—or release more dust into the air—so can a well-meaning homeowner.
Still, duct cleaning is sometimes necessary.
So how often should you ac cleaning? Simply put, only as regularly as there’s a serious problem, such as the presence of mold in air ducts, which can lead to mold spores being blown into your home’s living areas. This can trigger allergy-type symptoms, including a runny nose, sore throat, watery eyes, and other respiratory issues. If you notice a moldy or musty smell every time the furnace or AC is running, call a professional HVAC or duct-cleaning company. Mold grows in damp or wet areas, so if mold is in the ducts, along with having them cleaned, you’ll need to find the source of the moisture—perhaps a leaky pipe—and repair it.
Other valid reasons for cleaning air ducts include insect or rodent infestations in the ducts and high levels of dust or debris, which may have entered the ducts if the floor registers were not covered during a remodeling project and debris fell into the ducts.
7 Things to Know About Cleaning Air Ducts
Until then, good care and maintenance of the HVAC system are often all that’s needed.
If you don’t have a mold problem in your ducts and they aren’t infested, the air in your home will likely be just fine without having the ducts cleaned. The exception, as noted above, is if a family member is highly allergic to dust. For most, the following HVAC care and maintenance tips should be sufficient for keeping dust particles at an acceptable level.
Change the return-air filters a minimum of four times per year, at the start of each new season. If they become dirty before that, change them more frequently.
Have your HVAC system professionally inspected and serviced annually.
Cover floor registers and return-air ducts with taped-on plastic sheeting before remodeling your home.
Vacuum daily if you’re concerned about dust. If a family member suffers from allergies, consider using a high efficiency (HEPA) vacuum.