Is it Time for a Home Air Duct Cleaning?

Published by Parisa Ostovari

Edited, June 29th, 2021.

I find myself comparing an HVAC system to a car engine quite often. People understand the importance of preventive maintenance when it comes to their vehicles, so the comparison seems to carry some weight. When thinking about a car, a dirty engine has to work a lot harder to function properly. The same goes for a heating and air conditioning system with dirty ductwork. 

Why is an Air Duct Cleaning Necessary? 

Clean ducts allow a heating and air conditioning unit to operate at maximum efficiency. Homes built in the ‘70s, ‘80s and even the ‘90s often didn’t have the air ducts cleaned after construction on the house was complete. Any debris restricts airflow — requiring your HVAC system to work harder and less efficiently. When the system has to exert more effort to function, you pay more in energy costs. 

Like committing to regular maintenance for a vehicle, there are steps you can take to make sure your HVAC system is operating at its peak performance — including a duct cleaning. 

Here are a few signs you should get your air ducts cleaned: 

  • If you’ve lived in your home for longer than five to 10 years and have never had your duct system cleaned

  • You have done significant renovations in your home

  • You notice an excess amount of dust on your furniture

  • There are soot stains around your register

  • Your heating and cooling costs begin to increase inexplicably 

What Does an Air Duct Cleaning Cost? 

Once you decide to have your air ducts cleaned, it’s important to select the right company to perform the service. As with most anything, you get what you pay for when it comes to duct cleaning. Low-priced services will use a wet/dry vacuum to clean out the supply duct as far as it can reach and clean out the return air grills. This is not the preferred method. 

Instead, the company should run a camera down the duct work to show you the condition of the ducts before and after cleaning. They will blow air into one end of the system while sucking it out of the other. This ensures all the dirt is contained within the duct system and is not blowing out the registers into your home. Once finished, the ducts should look brand new. 

A proper duct cleaning will last five years. The service might cost several hundred dollars up front, but the infrequency of the expense combined with the energy savings is well-worth the initial cost. 

Indoor Air Quality Benefits

There are other benefits to having your duct system cleaned in addition to the energy savings. Clean ducts mean the air in your home will be cleaner for you and your family. Duct work becomes dusty overtime just like the furniture in your living room. Ducts will also collect dirt, pollen, allergens and pet hair and dander. In turn, mold spores, bacteria fungus and mildew can grow and be circulated. This indoor air pollution can impact the indoor air quality and reduce comfort in your home, especially for those who suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions.