Is air duct cleaning necessary? Air duct cleaning is inadvisable in most homes, though cleaning air ducts may be required in some circumstances.
Here, we’ll answer some common air duct questions. Use the links below to skip to an answer.
- What Are Air Ducts?
- What Is Air Duct Cleaning?
- How Clean Is the Air in My Home?
- Will Professional Air Duct Cleaning Help?
- Should I Clean the Air Ducts if I Have Allergies?
- How to Keep Indoor Air Clean?
- Why Is HVAC Maintenance Important?
- Are Air Filters Enough?
- What Lowers Indoor Air Quality?
- How Often Should Air Ducts Be Cleaned?
- What Circumstances Justify Air Duct Cleaning?
What Are Air Ducts?
Air ducts are large, box-shaped pipes that transport air from your heating and cooling unit into your living space and then carry it back to be conditioned again.
What Is Air Duct Cleaning?
An expert uses special equipment to clean, sanitize, and deodorize the interior walls of the ducts.
The technician uses special tools to dislodge and collect dirt in tough-to-reach spaces and applies cleaning solutions to eliminate mold and sanitize all interior areas.
If not done with care and expertise, cleaning can damage your ductwork. After the cleaning, the professional will test your entire HVAC system to ensure the work has not caused leaks or other damage. Because duct cleaning is often unnecessary and can result in damage requiring repairs, duct cleaning is rarely advisable unless mold or dust accumulations are visible inside the ductwork.
How Clean Is the Air in My Home?
When you arrive home after a long day and take a deep, relaxing breath, you may be inhaling allergens and pathogens that put your health and your family’s well-being at risk.
While most people think of air pollution as smog wafting over cities like Los Angeles or Tokyo, the air in your home may be more harmful! According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outside air.
Ironically, poor indoor air quality is more likely to develop in higher-end homes, where the goal is an airtight environment that minimizes the loss of conditioned air and drafts. Unfortunately, despite the heating and cooling benefits, airtight homes also circulate and recirculate pollutants.
Will Professional Air Duct Cleaning Help?
If your home air quality is poor, will professional air duct cleaning help?
No. Unless visible mold is growing in your air ducts, cleaning the ducts may not help and could result in damage requiring repairs!
The EPA recommends air duct cleaning only when:
- Mold is visible in the ducts
- Dust accumulation is significant in the ducts
- A household member is experiencing allergies in the home or unexplained illness
Should I Clean the Air Ducts If I Have Allergies?
Maybe. But if you or a household member suffers from unexplained illness or allergies, the EPA first recommends speaking with your doctor. Also, consider indoor air quality testing.
How to Keep Indoor Air Clean?
The best way to keep indoor air clean is to contact an HVAC professional or indoor air quality professional to inspect your home and make recommendations, which often include:
- Improving your air filtration system
- Regularly replacing an air filter, consistently using one with an appropriate MERV rating (general rule = MERV rating 11)
- Increasing the volume and frequency of airflow throughout your home
- Regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance
Why Is HVAC Maintenance Important?
Routine HVAC maintenance eliminates build-up from HVAC elements, including:
- Diffusers and grilles
- Blower motors and blower motor housing
- Condensate drains
- Drain pans
- Evaporator coils
- Heat exchangers
- Vents and returns.
Keeping these components clean eases the flow of warmed or cooled air. When air travels freely, there is less strain on your HVAC system. Reducing wear extends your system’s lifespan and minimizes repairs. As a bonus, well-maintained HVAC equipment uses less energy.
Are Air Filters Enough?
Filters actively remove particulates from the air. However, particulates that are too small to be captured by air filters can pass through the ductwork and back into your living environment.
Installing an air purifier or Air Scrubber helps stop the tiny particles from recirculating through your HVAC system, ducts, and living spaces.
What Lowers Indoor Air Quality?
Each time your dog scratches and sheds fur, and every time someone walks through your door with pollen on their shoes or clothes, new allergens enter your home. Even simple, everyday activities like vacuuming your carpets, making your bed, and rifling through your cupboards can have an impact, dispersing dead skin cells and dust mites into the air.
Using cleaning products, burning candles, and cooking can introduce oily and chemical residues.
In addition to particulates, some homes harbor living organisms, including bacteria, mold, and viruses that, at sufficiently high levels, can wreak havoc on your health. Just like dander and dust, these organisms can recirculate.
Here are some additional factors that can negatively impact your home’s air quality.
- Your home is near a busy freeway or an active construction site
- You have carpeted floors
- You own pets
- You have a high-traffic household or frequent guests
How Often Should Air Ducts Be Cleaned?
In most homes, never.
See the section above, Is Air Duct Cleaning Necessary.
What Circumstances Justify Air Duct Cleaning?
Here are some circumstances in which air duct cleaning may, repeat may prove helpful. If you:
- Have allergies or a chronic respiratory condition
- Have recently experienced a flood
- Have active mold, mildew, or other moisture-related problems
- Have had an insect infestation
Before cleaning your ducts, seek guidance from the HVAC company you trust, consider hiring an air quality professional for testing, and when allergies or illness are a factor, consult your doctor.