How Does Air Duct Cleaning Work?

Published by Parisa Ostovari


Air ducts play an important role in your home. They circulate the air from your heating and cooling systems into and out of each room in your home multiple times a day, giving you consistent comfort throughout the year.

However, when neglected, air ducts may become your worst enemy since they collect dust, dirt, pollen, mold and allergens, as well as pet hair and dander, which are then recirculated throughout your home. Over 90% of homes have three or more detectable allergens, and 73% have at least one allergen at elevated levels according to The National Institutes of Health. Dirty ducts can also impede airflow, leading to inefficient flow of conditioned air and the potential to use more energy, which can result in higher bills.

If you are experiencing any of these issues, it may be time to consider duct cleaning. Learn about the process and how it can be beneficial to increase your indoor comfort as well as keep your HVAC system operating at peak performance.

How Do You Know If Your Air Ducts Need to Be Cleaned?

The average home collects 40 pounds of dust each year, so most homes will need duct cleaning at some point. Here are a few signs that you should get your air ducts cleaned:

  • You’ve lived in your home for longer than five or 10 years and have never had your duct system cleaned.

  • You’ve recently remodeled or completed significant renovations to your home.

  • You’ve noticed an excess amount of dust on your furniture or see soot stains around your register.

  • You’ve experienced a substantial increase in your heating and cooling costs.

  • You’ve been suffering from allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues and been to a doctor.

  • You’ve had or currently have pets that shed heavily.

What Methods Are Used To Clean Ducts?

The duct cleaning process starts with a service technician completing a quick walk-around to understand the layout of your home. Most of the time, they will run a camera through the ducts to get an idea of how far each run is and how dirty the duct looks. Then they determine the best cleaning method.

There are two methods used for duct cleaning: a BrushBeast and negative air machine. The BrushBeast is preferred; it uses a brushing system attached to a large, specialized vacuum that runs through the ducts. The brush goes down through the registers and back through the main trunk line. Brushes can be switched out depending on the duct size and material in the duct. This is more efficient since a service tech can go to a register and start the process.

A negative air machine, which is a high-pressure hose that is passed through the ducts to remove particles, is a method that is used less often. It’s a large hose that gets set up in the basement and is passed through the duct work. The supply registers will need to be blocked off first and then air is sprayed through the ducts. This process can be cumbersome since each vent has to be blocked off by a service tech.

During the cleaning, every register grill is removed and cleaned. Then, the ducts are deodorized. If your home has had mold or fire damage in the past, a disinfectant can be fogged through the cleaned ducts to eliminate any material that might remain.

How Much Does Cleaning Cost?

The service cost should be determined by the size of your home, the number of ducts and their configuration. Duct cleaning takes around four to six hours, depending on the size of your home. A proper duct cleaning will last approximately five years.

When is the Best Time of Year to Get Your Ducts Cleaned?

You can have a duct cleaning anytime during the year; however, spring and fall are popular times. A spring cleaning can help remove winter dust accumulation, help with spring allergies and remove pet dander and shedding as they transition into spring. A fall cleaning can be beneficial if your home is prone to mold or mildew as well as help improve your furnace efficiency as winter approaches.

What Are the Benefits of a Duct Cleaning Service?

There are a variety of benefits to having your air ducts professionally cleaned, including creating a cleaner living environment. In addition, clean ducts can help improve indoor air quality to help reduce allergens and irritants, which can be beneficial for those who suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems. A detailed cleaning can help remove unpleasant odors, help improve air flow, and allow your HVAC system to operate at peak efficiency to provide you with the most cost-effective performance.

During a duct cleaning service, a technician will also inspect for other issues in the ductwork, such as leaks, rust, gaps or loose connections. A professional can quickly notice and fix other problems within your HVAC system that you may not have noticed for better air quality.

Air ducts play a vital role in your home, but they are often overlooked. If you notice dust or other contaminants around your registers or your HVAC system seems to be working harder and less efficiently, give Bell Brothers a call to schedule a complete inspection and duct cleaning by our trained service technicians.