While air duct cleaning isn't required (like changing your filters), there are definite benefits to having your air ducts cleaned occasionally. Clean air ducts can mean fresher indoor air; more efficient heating and cooling; and removal of contaminants that can aggravate allergies or asthma.
However, the decision can depend on numerous factors, including where you live, the age of your system, and your sensitivity to dust, just to name a few. Here are a few guidelines to help you decide if it’s time to clean your air ducts.
Deciding if Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning
Start with a visual inspection of your ductwork and vents. If you notice a buildup of debris or grime, especially on the insides of your vents, that’s an indication that your system may need a good cleaning. If your ducts are visibly clogged or there seems to be restricted airflow, you’ll definitely want to get that taken care of. Over time, restricted airflow can actually damage your system and lead to expensive repairs.
Check your filters. If you’ve noticed they’re excessively dirty or have been getting dirty faster and faster, that’s another sign that a cleaning may be in order. Here are some other indicators that it may be time to call in the pros:
- If you have pets that shed a lot of fur and dander. This may be especially important if anyone in your household has allergies or other respiratory concerns.
- If you suspect mold or mildew in the ducts, you’ll want to have them cleaned. Like pet shedding, this can be especially important for vulnerable family members.
- If you see dust blowing out of the vents, that’s an indication of excess debris in the system that needs to be cleaned.
- If you notice insects entering or exiting your ductwork, they could be nesting there and getting that taken care of will protect your entire home. Similarly, if you’ve had another infestation in your home — even if it’s been taken care of — you’ll be safest cleaning your ductwork just to make sure nothing lingers there.
Moving Into a New Home
Another good time to have ductwork cleaned is if you’re making a move.
- If you’re moving into a home, it’s wise to have the ducts cleaned before the big moving day — unless you have the assurance that the former owner has recently had the job done.
- If you’re moving into a new construction home, having the ductwork cleaned is a good idea. New homes can have a lot of debris that builds up from drywall, wood, and other dust particles during the construction process.
- If you’ve just completed a sizeable home remodeling project, you may want to clean the air ducts for the same reasons as with a new construction.
How Much Will it Cost?
As with many home maintenance tasks, the cost of air duct cleaning services can vary greatly (here's what typically happens during an air duct cleaning). Perhaps more important is making sure that you’re getting a reputable company for the job.
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) sets standards for cleaning and recommends that you use professionals with their certification. The cost of cleaning by a reputable professional will average $300 to $500 for most homes.