Is cleaning my air ducts worth it?

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Is cleaning my air ducts worth it?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding duct cleaning. An innocent Google search will display countless articles arguing back and forth about whether or not this is a service you should invest your time and money in.

Our answer is…it depends. Sorry to be so wishy washy about this topic, but it really depends on why you are interested in learning more about this service.

If you find mold in your ductwork, you may need to replace the infected sections to ensure all of the mold is removed. Consider cleaning your entire duct system after the mold is completely removed.

If your allergies are flaring up more than normal or you recently renovated your home, then cleaning your air ducts is a no brainer.

There are a lot of benefits to having your ductwork cleaned…stay tuned.

What is air duct cleaning?

Before we dive in, let’s start with why your ductwork is so important.

Ductwork is the system of tubes used to distribute warm and cool air throughout your home. Hidden in your attic, basement or crawlspace, your air ducts work year-round because the system supports your air conditioner and furnace.

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Ductwork is a closed-loop system attached to your HVAC system. The air you breathe is recirculated through your home’s ductwork more than five times per hour.

Pollen and other allergens sneak into your home when you open your doors and windows. Your shoes track in dirt and who knows what else. You, your family and your pets shed hair and skin cells, sneeze and cough.

All of the dirt, pollen, hair and pet dander are pulled into your air ducts. The good news is your air filter will capture some of the particles floating around in the air. And some of the particles will stick to the inside of your duct work. But some unhealthy particles will float around carefree in your living space until it is recirculated again.

Duct cleaning is simply the removal of dust, debris, pollen and other particles that are stuck on the inside wall of your ductwork.

A professional duct cleaning starts with a full inspection of your entire system – air conditioner, heater, coil, ductwork, filter, drain pan, registers, grilles, blower, and motor assembly. If your ducts need to be cleaned, a professional will push a powerful, spinning brush through your ducts to loosen the debris while a powerful vacuum creates negative pressure to attract all of the dirt and grime. The dynamic duo vacuums and captures the dirt, dust and grime that is lining the inside of your ductwork. Then, the gross stuff is escorted out of your home and thrown away.

Why do I need my air ducts cleaned?

Over the years, dust, dirt, pollen and pet dander can accumulate in your ductwork leading to allergy problems and poor indoor air quality.

You vacuum your carpet, you mop your kitchen floor, so it makes sense that you would need to clean the system that carries the air that you breathe.

Benefits of air duct cleaning

There are countless ways duct cleaning is beneficial to you, your family and your HVAC system. Here are the top 4 benefits of cleaning your ductwork:

  • Everyone including your furry friends will breathe easier thanks to the improvement in the indoor air quality.
  • Enjoy a reduction in allergy symptoms like sneezing and headaches.
  • Extend the life of your air conditioner and heater. When your system operates the way it was designed, it is more likely to live longer.
  • Peace of mind knowing your ductwork is working the way it was designed without leaks and air flow restrictions.

When is the best time of year to clean my air ducts?

During the duct cleaning, your air conditioner and heater will be turned off for up to 8 hours. This usually rules out our hot, humid summers in Birmingham, Alabama.

Fall and spring are the best seasons for cleaning your ductwork because the outdoor temperature is milder. Your home will more quickly recover from the long period of time your air conditioner or heater was off.

Do my air ducts need cleaning?

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends you clean your ducts every three to five years.

We’ve found your lifestyle and environment dictate how often you should clean your air ducts instead of the passage of time.

For example, a healthy homeowner that does not have pets, may be able to wait longer than 5 years. But an allergy sufferer with pets in a recently renovated house may not be able to wait that long.

Here are some of the signs that it is time to clean your air ducts:

  • Someone in your home suffers from allergies, breathing or respiratory problems.
  • You notice more dust has accumulated on your furniture and countertops.
  • Unusual coloring or stains recently appeared around your air vents.
  • You change your filter more often than usual because it is clogged with dust and debris quickly.
  • Your air conditioner or heater does not perform as well as it used to. As pet hair, dust and dead skin build up in air ducts, they restrict airflow and interfere with your systems’ ability to operate properly.
  • After a home renovation, you may have particles from the paint, flooring and other building materials trapped in your air ducts.
  • You recently had mold removed from your home. The source of the mold may be gone, but it may still be floating through your air ducts.
  • When you purchase a new house, ask the previous owners when the last time they had their ducts cleaned. It may be time for another cleaning depending on their living style and number of pets.
  • Before you move into a home that has been vacant or neglected. Who knows who or what occupied the space before you moved in.
  • Quickly after you find evidence that insects or rodents have turned your ductwork into their home.
  • Check for yourself. Remove an air vent cover and look inside. Does it contain dirt, dust or debris? If you found a lot at the end of the run on the vent cover, imagine how much more you’ll find closer to your HVAC system.

Still not sure if it is time to clean your air ducts? Contact a professional when you notice a change in your air quality. It is very easy for a technician to inspect your ductwork to determine if it is time to clean it again.

Is duct cleaning worth the money?

Absolutely! We’ve heard success stories where people no longer need allergy medicine or use an inhaler after we performed a duct cleaning.

Think of it this way – your central air system is the respiratory center of your home. The system will not work the way it was designed if dirt and dust are stuck in the filters, coils, vents or ductwork.

For a duct cleaning to be effective…worth the money, two things must happen:

  1. The air ducts must be cleaned beyond the air vents you see in the ceiling or floor. Simply using a shop vac to vacuum out around your air vents is not a duct cleaning.A technician with professional equipment will clean the entire duct system from the air vent, through the supply and return branches, to the trunk line until it reaches your indoor unit.
  2. Your entire HVAC system must be cleaned during a duct cleaning.
    If you only clean your ductwork, but operate your air conditioner with a dirty filter or coil, you’ll quickly end up with dirty ductwork again. You will not experience the full benefit of duct cleaning.

Remember, the entire system works together. The air you breathe flows through the air filter, coil and duct work, before it returns to your living space. The duct work is only one piece of the puzzle. Your entire system must be cleaned.

Does air duct cleaning make a mess?

No. When the service is performed right, all of the dirt and debris is trapped and contained by the powerful vacuum. The professional technician will dispose of the debris for you.

Will a duct cleaning reduce the amount of dust in my house?

Usually not. When sealed properly, ductwork is a closed-loop system. There is nothing inside your duct that can create dust. Dust is created outside of the ductwork and pulled in when it is not captured by the air filter.

If you’re experiencing more dust than usual, check your filter. It may be time to change your air filter.

Next, check your ductwork. If you hear a whistling sound or find holes in the ductwork, you most likely have a leak. Ductwork will pull dust and dirt through the holes from your attic, basement or crawlspace. The leaks in the ductwork turn into a source of dust which means you’ll notice more dust circulating in the air and settling on your furniture and counters.

Will a duct cleaning remove the smell in my house?

No. Well, usually not. The source of the smell is usually outside your ductwork. It takes a lot of dirt and dust to generate an odor.

If you have mold growing or animals living in your ductwork, then removing them from your ductwork will drastically improve the smell in your house.

Will duct cleaning reduce my energy bills?

You will not notice a drastic change in your energy bills. Yes, clean air ducts will help your air conditioner and furnace operate more efficiently, but it is unlikely that you’ll notice a huge difference on your next bill.

Can I clean my air ducts myself?

Cleaning the branches (runs) and trunk line of your ductwork is usually a bigger DIY project than most homeowners need to tackle. Your vacuum cleaner will only touch the surface because it is hard to reach the ductwork that is behind a wall, in the attic or underneath the floor.

If you’re searching for a do-it-yourself home project, we highly recommend you clean your air vents (registers) especially if they are in the floor.

Just like clean air filters, clean air vents help reduce dust in your environment. Even the cleanest homes may suffer from too much dust if the vents are left neglected, but luckily vent care doesn’t take an overwhelming amount of time or energy.

Even though this method will not clean your entire duct system, it is a great start to improving your home’s air quality.

Plan on investing about 15 minutes in each vent. You’ll need the following tools to get started:

  • Screwdriver
  • Vacuum cleaner with crevice attachment
  • Stepladder, if you have ceiling vents
  • Towels and a baseball cap to protect your floors and head from any falling dust
  • Face mask to reduce the amount of dust you breathe while you clean the vents
  • A duster like Swiffer, preferably with an extension rod.
  • Clean Magic Eraser or microfiber cloth
  • Soap and water

Follow these steps to clean your air vents:

  • Turn your air conditioner and heater off. Trust us, this will make life easier and prevent the sudden, unexpected surprise of a dust cloud flying in your face.
  • Put on the face mask. Read the directions on the box to ensure you are wearing it properly.
  • Remove the vent cover. This should be easy enough to do with a screwdriver, although some vents have interior clips that you’ll need to open as well.If you are removing a ceiling vent, place a towel under the vent to protect your floor. Wear your baseball cap as well – dust is likely to fall from the vent.
  • Remove large objects. You may be surprised to find toys, pencils, ponytail hulders or other random items.
  • Vacuum the vent area. If it has been a while since you cleaned your vents, don’t be surprised to see a herd of dust bunnies. Don’t fret…that’s why you’re deep cleaning! Grab your vacuum cleaner and attach the crevice accessory. You can simply vacuum all of the dust out.

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  • Grab the duster. Now that you have vacuumed out the big stuff, it’s time to work on the residue. Use your duster to remove the smaller particles in the vent area.
  • Clean the vent covers. Wipe the vent cover with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or a damp microfiber cloth, but be gentle…you don’t want to remove the paint.If your vent covers are dirtier than you expected, you can deep clean them by letting them soak in water with a tiny drop of dish soap.
    Caution: Pay attention to how long you let the vents soak, because the paint may wash off. After you’ve soaked the vents, you can gently wipe off the grime with a sponge.
  • Let your vents dry and reinstall. Don’t reinstall your vents until they are 100% dry. If they are damp, you run the risk of creating a space where muld and mildew can grow.
  • Clean your vacuum cleaner. Now that you’ve trapped all of the dust, don’t let it sit in the closet stored in your vacuum cleaner. Throw the dust out, change the filter and wipe down the vacuum cleaner.
  • Turn your air conditioner or heater back on.

What happens if I don’t clean my ductwork?

The Earth will stop spinning. Just kidding! If you have not found a reason to have them cleaned after reading this awesome blog, then you probably don’t need them cleaned. When you or someone in your family starts sneezing uncontrollably or you notice black stuff growing around your air vents, then it’s time to reconsider.

We practice what we preach.

We believe in duct cleaning so much that we practice what we preach.

After we upgraded our duct cleaning tools, we gave them a try in our office and even we were impressed!

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One of our employee benefits is free HVAC services. Our team members take advantage of our duct cleaning service after they purchase a house, move into a rental house or remodel their home.

Bottom line:

You and your family spend a lot of time in your home. You invest time creating a safe, clean environment when you vacuum and dust, why not take it to the next level of clean with a duct cleaning? Clean air is priceless.

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Did you find more dirt and grime in your air vents than you expected? It’s time to call Brown and request more information about our duct cleaning service. Call us at (205) 871-8111 to learn more.