How Often Do I Need to Clean My Air Ducts?

Improve air quality and reduce risk of fires

BY JASON STEVENS

MARCH 16, 2022

Air-Ducts desktop

You regularly change the oil in your car, blow leaves off your lawn, and clean the lint trap in your dryer. But when’s the last time you cleaned your home’s air ducts? If the answer is “Never,” here’s why you should and how often to clean air ducts.

Ductwork, after all, is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” systems that reaches every corner of your home. These passages deliver heating, ventilation, and air conditioning to your space, thus affecting the air quality in your house.

Why clean air ducts?

Just like your baseboards, bookshelves, and bathrooms, air ducts accumulate dirt, dust, and debris over time, necessitating regular cleaning. If you have pets or you’ve done home renovation projects, construction dust, dander, and hair, pollen and smoke can live in the ductwork — not to mention any mildew or mold that can result from water leakage. In addition to blowing allergens and mold around your home, air ducts that accumulate debris can pose a fire risk.

Cleaning your ductwork is the most effective way to boost indoor air quality, reduce potential fire hazards, and protect those with compromised immune systems, young children, and anyone suffering from allergies or asthma.

How do I know when it’s time to clean ductwork?

Experts recommend professional ductwork cleaning take place every one to five years. This will depend on factors such as your location, whether you have individuals in your household with allergies, and how often you use your HVAC system. A few signs it might be time to hire a professional air duct cleaning company include:

  • Inconsistent airflow from room to room

  • Rodents or insects in ductwork

  • Air filters or vent covers that get dirty more quickly than normal

  • If you’ve recently remodeled or been through renovations

  • Mold or mildew issues

  • An unusual power bill spike

  • Family members with ongoing respiratory issues

How does air duct cleaning work?

When you hire a professional duct cleaner — and you should hire this job out — technicians enter your home and employ brushes and other professional cleaning equipment. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends continuous negative pressure (a vacuum) that easily removes fine particles and loosens other larger contaminants. In general, the only time antimicrobial chemicals get used in the cleaning process is if necessary to control odors or sanitize areas where rodents or other organisms were detected.

Cleaning may last anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the size of your home and the scope of the project, and can cost anywhere from $350 to $1,000.

How do I choose a company to clean my air ducts?

Start your research online, or get referrals from those you trust. Once you’ve narrowed down your air duct cleaning search, you’ll want to ask the following questions:

  • What does the service cover specifically? Those mailers advertising whole-house ductwork specials don’t always address all the components of your system like sealing up access panels, brushing your air conditioner’s coils, or cleaning grills.

  • Is the initial air duct cleaning quote an accurate representation of the costs? That $99 whole-home special may not actually be that “special” when you get a $200 bill.

  • What standards does the company follow? Are they in compliance with all state, EPA, and NADCA standards?

  • Does the company have liability insurance? You’ll want to make sure you’re covered should a technician incur damage to your ductwork or HVAC system during cleaning.

  • Does the company use chemicals? While biocides can help stave off bacteria and mold growth, they are not EPA-approved. The introduction of unnecessary chemicals into your ductwork can potentially cause additional issues.

  • Can the cleaning company provide proof of their work? Ask for a visual inspection once the cleaning has been conducted.

Air duct cleaning is one step of the process to reducing in-home hazards. To quickly detect issues such as the presence of fire and smoke, shop Brinks Home™ smoke detectors and FireFighter, which allows you to add your smoke alarm to your monitored home security system.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others

28 Sounds to Test Your Glass Break Sensor1

Sounds to Test Your Glass Break Sensor

Read more
water-leak-detection desktop

Water Leak Detection

Read more
2020-11-11 blog-images 7

Where to Place a Freeze Sensor

Read more
Share via:

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Air Ducts?

Improve air quality and reduce risk of fires

BY JASON STEVENS

MARCH 16, 2022

You regularly change the oil in your car, blow leaves off your lawn, and clean the lint trap in your dryer. But when’s the last time you cleaned your home’s air ducts? If the answer is “Never,” here’s why you should and how often to clean air ducts.

Ductwork, after all, is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” systems that reaches every corner of your home. These passages deliver heating, ventilation, and air conditioning to your space, thus affecting the air quality in your house.

Why clean air ducts?

Just like your baseboards, bookshelves, and bathrooms, air ducts accumulate dirt, dust, and debris over time, necessitating regular cleaning. If you have pets or you’ve done home renovation projects, construction dust, dander, and hair, pollen and smoke can live in the ductwork — not to mention any mildew or mold that can result from water leakage. In addition to blowing allergens and mold around your home, air ducts that accumulate debris can pose a fire risk.

Cleaning your ductwork is the most effective way to boost indoor air quality, reduce potential fire hazards, and protect those with compromised immune systems, young children, and anyone suffering from allergies or asthma.

How do I know when it’s time to clean ductwork?

Experts recommend professional ductwork cleaning take place every one to five years. This will depend on factors such as your location, whether you have individuals in your household with allergies, and how often you use your HVAC system. A few signs it might be time to hire a professional air duct cleaning company include:

  • Inconsistent airflow from room to room

  • Rodents or insects in ductwork

  • Air filters or vent covers that get dirty more quickly than normal

  • If you’ve recently remodeled or been through renovations

  • Mold or mildew issues

  • An unusual power bill spike

  • Family members with ongoing respiratory issues

How does air duct cleaning work?

When you hire a professional duct cleaner — and you should hire this job out — technicians enter your home and employ brushes and other professional cleaning equipment. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends continuous negative pressure (a vacuum) that easily removes fine particles and loosens other larger contaminants. In general, the only time antimicrobial chemicals get used in the cleaning process is if necessary to control odors or sanitize areas where rodents or other organisms were detected.

Cleaning may last anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the size of your home and the scope of the project, and can cost anywhere from $350 to $1,000.

How do I choose a company to clean my air ducts?

Start your research online, or get referrals from those you trust. Once you’ve narrowed down your air duct cleaning search, you’ll want to ask the following questions:

  • What does the service cover specifically? Those mailers advertising whole-house ductwork specials don’t always address all the components of your system like sealing up access panels, brushing your air conditioner’s coils, or cleaning grills.

  • Is the initial air duct cleaning quote an accurate representation of the costs? That $99 whole-home special may not actually be that “special” when you get a $200 bill.

  • What standards does the company follow? Are they in compliance with all state, EPA, and NADCA standards?

  • Does the company have liability insurance? You’ll want to make sure you’re covered should a technician incur damage to your ductwork or HVAC system during cleaning.

  • Does the company use chemicals? While biocides can help stave off bacteria and mold growth, they are not EPA-approved. The introduction of unnecessary chemicals into your ductwork can potentially cause additional issues.

  • Can the cleaning company provide proof of their work? Ask for a visual inspection once the cleaning has been conducted.

Air duct cleaning is one step of the process to reducing in-home hazards. To quickly detect issues such as the presence of fire and smoke, shop Brinks Home™ smoke detectors and FireFighter, which allows you to add your smoke alarm to your monitored home security system.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others


Chat