How Often Should HVAC Ducts Be Cleaned?

How Often Should HVAC Ducts Be Cleaned?

Indoor air quality: something many people had never considered before the Covid-19 pandemic.  However, the pandemic revealed just how important it is to maintain healthy air and circulation systems; professionals at the time discovered that viruses and other airborne contaminants can spread through enclosed spaces via air ducts.  This revelation has since changed the way we think about HVAC and indoor air.  As a result, interest in air duct and HVAC cleaning has grown significantly.  For many people concerned about the air health of their home, the question remains: how often should HVAC ducts be cleaned?

The general consensus regarding HVAC duct cleanings is still up for debate.  Some studies have suggested there is no benefit to duct cleaning, and that much of the accumulated dust is non-circulating and harmless.  There is little to no scientific evidence to suggest duct cleaning improves air quality or prevents disease.  However, others suggest the ducts should be cleaned every three to five years, as the accumulated dust poses a fire risk (if nothing else).  Generally, duct cleaning is not necessary on a regular basis unless:

  • the building has recently been renovated or remodeled
  • pets or animals live in the building
  • any of the occupants have respiratory sensitivities like asthma or allergies
  • any of the occupants smoke indoors
  • conditions are extremely humid or there has been a water leak
  • conditions are extremely dry or hot and pose a fire risk

Common indoor pollutants like pet dander, construction debris, or smoke can significantly increase duct contamination, and particularly wet or humid conditions can lead to bacteria or mold growth in the duct systems.  For individuals who may be more sensitive to low air quality, it is recommended that their home HVAC systems be cleaned more often.  Many individuals with pet dander or dust allergies may find a reduction in harmful allergens after an air duct cleaning.

Regular duct cleanings play a huge role in house fire prevention.  Dust buildup in vent systems is usually dry and highly flammable.  An over-encumbered HVAC unit may throw sparks that can easily ignite piles of dust.  For individuals living in dry, hot places where fires are common, it is especially important to avoid the buildup of these flammable materials in your home.

How to Tell When I Should Get My Ducts Cleaned: Check Your Vents for Mold Growth and Dust Buildup

If you’re unsure whether or not it’s time to get your ducts cleaned, it’s best to start by simply inspecting your home ducts yourself.  Check common vents in your home like the bathroom, kitchen, and floor vents; if they have a thick layer of dust, it’s likely time for a cleaning.  Built-up dust and particles in your HVAC system can reduce its efficiency and prevent air from flowing properly.

Another thing to look for when checking the cleanliness of your ducts is mold and mildew.  If you live in a humid environment or use an indoor humidifier, you’re more likely to find mold growth in your vents.  Bathrooms and stove-top vents are often the best places to look for mold, as these vents are regularly exposed to steam from showers and cooking.  Moldy vents will often have a spotted or fuzzy look; if you’re unsure, it’s always best to consult a professional.  If you do discover mold in your vents, you will need to address the source of the humidity to avoid mold regrowth after cleaning; dehumidifiers may be useful in this scenario.

Hiring The Right Air Vent and Duct Cleaning Services: Hiring HVAC Professionals for Cleaning Your Vents

If you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to clean out your ductwork, you’ll have to find a proper cleaning service.  Regular house cleaners will be unequipped to handle this type of task; you must hire an HVAC professional.  While there are some businesses exclusively for duct cleaning, a regular HVAC repair service should be able to perform a thorough cleaning and maintenance.  Be sure to talk with your service provider about any potential issues they find while duct cleaning; mold, condensation, or pests are all concerns that must be addressed lest they reoccur.  It’s also important to make sure your company technicians are thoroughly inspecting the heating and cooling elements of your system; the furnace, coils, filters, electrical connections, and fans should all be cleaned or replaced.

Here at Green City Heating & Air Conditioning, we care about the longevity of the HVAC systems we install.  While we don’t offer vent cleaning services, if you feel it is time for a vent cleaning, be sure to hire a professional that is certified in HVAC and by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.  While duct cleaning may not be strictly necessary, there are a number of reasons why you may want to have it done.  If you have questions about the cleanliness of your HVAC system, feel free to reach out to our team.

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