Should You Clean Your Ductwork?

contractor duct cleaning

The short answer is– Yes.

The longer answer is– Yes, you should, and you may not want to know why.

You’ve undoubtedly heard stories from people who have had their air ducts cleaned and the horror of what was found in them. This most likely sent you into a panic about what’s in your ducts and how you get them cleaned.

Searching online you find a mix of yes you should and no you shouldn’t articles and they leave you more confused than ever. We will try to put your mind at ease…

Yes, cleaning your air ducts is beneficial, not just to the air quality of your home but also to the efficiency of your HVAC system. And, as long as you don’t do it yourself and you hire a licensed and trained professional with the proper equipment, they shouldn’t cause any damage to your ductwork. But, no, it’s not a magical fix that’s going to stop your house from getting dusty and it won’t cure all your health problems.

If you have an older home, have recently done some remodeling, have had a pest infestation of some kind, or have moisture problems in your home then you definitely should have your ducts cleaned. Or, at the very least, inspected for build-up.

Older homes and remodeling projects can cause a build-up in your ductwork that blocks the airflow of your ducts and can lower the efficiency of your HVAC system. Will you notice a massive drop in your energy bills, no, but cleaning the ducts, as well as the evaporator coils and blower fans, will slightly improve the efficiency of your HVAC system and hopefully extend its life and reduce the need for more costly repairs.

Another reason to keep the evaporator coils cleaned is that it helps to reduce moisture buildup. If you have moisture collecting in your ducts it can dampen the collecting dust and cause mold to grow. It’s not just clearing out the dust that improves air quality, but finding, removing and treating any mold is where the actual health benefits can come into play.

And, when you think of things mixing with the dust to cause health problems you think of bugs and rodents. This goes back to the answer in the beginning when we said you may not want to know why duct cleaning could be useful. Waste from the pests can mix with the dust and cause mold, fungus, and bacteria to grow. These contaminants can then spread through the home leading to breathing issues and allergic reactions.

There was just recently a story out of Minneapolis. U of M students have reported feeling sick and it was discovered that mold and fungus had been growing in their dormitory’s vents.

Before you start to worry too much about your ducts there are a few signs to look for to determine your level of need:

  • Check your vent and air return covers for noticeable buildup
  • Look inside a vent or two for dirt, debris and matted dust.
  • Check your furnace filter.
  • Open your furnace compartment to check for buildup on the blower fans.
  • Examine your air conditioning coils for buildup.

There are a few things you can do yourself, such as change the furnace filter, clean off the vent covers, and even vacuum out the vent openings, this is a job for professionals. They have the proper vacuums and brushes to get into the ductwork for a more thorough cleaning. And their training will keep them from damaging the ducts.

And, once that job is done you can sit back and relax for a few years until you need it again. Right?

Not exactly.

While you don’t need to have the ducts cleaned yearly you can help to extend the time between cleanings with some basic annual, or semi-annual maintenance:

  • Have your HVAC system serviced twice a year.

*or at least once a year (spring or fall) and have both heating and cooling components checked:

  • Replace the furnace filter regularly.
  • Keep the vent covers cleaned.
  • Don’t allow debris to accumulate inside the vents.

If you are still on the fence and unsure if it’s needed then here is an article from the Washington Post on why you may not want to bother.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your HVAC system feel free to reach out. Either here on our website or call (910) 390-1742.