When was the last time you had your home’s air ducts cleaned? Can’t remember? Maybe never? Luckily, it’s not a chore that needs be taken care of often, but cleaning your air ducts can help lower your heating and cooling costs, extend the life of your HVAC system, and contribute to healthier indoor air for you and your family.
Benefits of Cleaning Your Air Ducts
A clean HVAC system will run more efficiently, maintaining your home’s temperatures with greater ease. That means using less fuel, and cost savings for you. The more efficiently your system runs, the longer lifespan it will have and the less likely you’ll have major repairs.
But for some, the most important benefit of cleaning your duct system is to maintain top indoor air quality. Over the course of time, contaminants like dust, dander, and chemical residues can accumulate in your system. Periodically cleaning that system can improve your air quality. And that may be especially important if you or family members have a respiratory condition or allergies.
How Often Should I Have Them Cleaned?
The frequency of air duct cleaning can range quite a bit depending on several factors. If the system has always been well maintained and used good filters that were changed frequently, a cleaning every 15 or 20 years should do it. Some exceptionally well-maintained systems may even be able to go 25 years. However, if the system has been poorly maintained, the filter changed infrequently, or if the furnace has ever been run with the filter removed, then you’re looking at every 5 to 10 years.
Checking Your System
A quick DIY trick to determine if your system should be cleaned is to take a look at the blower wheel in the bottom of your furnace.
- Turn off the furnace power and open the lower furnace door.
- With a good flashlight, look inside. Make sure the wheel (squirrel cage looking thing) has stopped turning.
- There are vanes on the wheel that are slightly curved, that’s where dirt will collect. If the curved vanes (cupped areas) of the wheel are filled with dirt, then odds are good that your duct system is, too.
- If the vanes look clean, reach in and rub inside the vanes to confirm. If they’re clean, then you probably don’t need your ducts cleaned.
If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, have your HVAC professional take a look during your annual inspection and maintenance appointment.
What’s Involved in the Process?
There are different methods that can be used. Some companies us a rotating brush while others use a high-pressure air system to loosen the debris, but both will get the job done. All companies should be using a vacuum system to capture loosened debris.
Every cleaning should remove dust, dirt, and debris from your duct surfaces, registers, grilles, and air passageways of the evaporator coil and furnace. In addition, any accessories, such as humidifiers and air purifiers should be inspected and cleaned at the same time. A thorough, professional cleaning can take several hours or more, depending on the size of the home and the condition of the ductwork.
How Do I Find a Reputable Service?
The EPA recommends that all duct cleaners follow National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) standards. Check out their website to find a professional certified by the NADCA.