Keeping your HVAC system properly maintained is the key to getting the longest service life and and highest efficiency. This includes having your ducts professionally cleaned, which is a task that escapes many homeowners’ attention. Discover how often you should have your ducts cleaned and the signs that it’s time.

What Does Professional Duct Cleaning Include

When you hire professional duct cleaners, it includes more than simply sucking dirt out of your ducts. Yes, they’ll use a negative pressure system to remove debris. However, they also have specialized brushes and tools to get deep in your ducts to scrub off the debris that may stick to the sides of the ducts. Further, if you have problems with spore or fungal infestations, your cleaning crew can use an antimicrobial solution to kill those particles and inhibit regrowth.

Can You Clean Your Own Ducts?

It’s not recommended to attempt cleaning your own ducts. Some property owners attempt to use a shop vacuum, but these inevitably only reach the very ends of duct runs. Further, using improper tools risks damaging your ducts, requiring repairs or sealing.

General Cleaning Frequency Recommendation

Industry experts recommend planning to have your ducts cleaned every three to five years. The Environmental Protection Agency does not recommend cleaning your ducts routinely, but only when you have signs that it’s needed. If you have people in your home with environmental sensitivities, such as asthma or weakened immune systems, you may want to consider making it routine and may need to have them cleaned more frequently.

11 Signs Your Ducts Need Cleaning

With such infrequent recommended cleanings, how can you know when it’s time to have your ducts cleaned? These 11 signs may indicate it’s time to schedule a professional duct cleaning.

1. Higher Energy Bills

Climbing energy bills can be traced back to a variety of root causes, including dirty ducts, a clogged air filter, and needing HVAC repairs. When deciding whether this symptom points to the need for duct cleaning, consider the last time you’ve had your ducts cleaned, your HVAC maintenance history and how frequently you change your filters. Combine this sign with some of the others in the list, and the case grows stronger for needing to have them cleaned.

2. Air Filters Clog Quickly

It’s a good habit to check your HVAC air filter every month so you can gauge how frequently it’s clogging. 1- and 2-inch fillers typically need changing every 30 to 90 days, while larger filters may last longer. Filters that clog more quickly indicate poor air quality, which may be traced back to your ducts. When they are dirty, the circulating air will pick up particles from within the ducts and push them back into the air for your filter to remove.

3. Recurring Illness or Allergies

Dirty ducts commonly have not only dust and dirt, but allergens like mold and mildew. Frequent exposure to many of these contaminants may cause recurring illnesses and stronger allergies. Things you may experience with poor air quality may include colds, sinus infections and upper respiratory illnesses along with allergy symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, sneezing and headaches.

4. Mold or Mildew on Your Vent Covers

Mold and mildew will grow in areas where there’s excess moisture, and vent covers can provide that. When your home has high humidity, the vent covers can become cold enough to condense the moisture out of the air. The stains on the covers indicate there’s likely mold or mildew growing somewhere in your ducts. A cleaning on its own may not get rid of all of it, but the solution a team will use while cleaning will kill whatever’s left behind.

5. Unpleasant Odors

There are two primary odor complaints associated with dirty ducts, a musty smell and what can best be described as dirty gym socks. The musty smell indicates likely spore growth within the system. The dirty gym sock smell is indicative of bacterial growth that’s also common in areas with excess moisture. The antimicrobial spray available with professional duct cleaning will deal with both types of duct contaminants.

6. Poor Household Airflow

Poor airflow can be traced back to dirty air filters, neglected HVAC maintenance, a faulty circulating fan, and even dirty ducts. Dirty ducts can restrict airflow when things like rodents make nests in them or when they are well past when they should have been cleaned. A professional cleaning team can usually run a scope down your ducts to find if there’s a restriction. A maintenance technician evaluates all of the other factors during routine HVAC maintenance.

7. Pest Infestations

Pesky pests cause so many problems throughout your home, whether that’s rodents or insects. Even if they don’t make their nests and home in your ducts, it’s likely their dander, feces and urine will find their way into your ducts. If you’ve had any kind of infestation recently resolved, plan to have your ducts professionally cleaned to ensure there’s nothing residual causing further problems.

8. A Lot of Household Dust

Every home will have some amount of dust, but if yours seems dustier than normal, it could be dirty ducts or something as simple as a clogged air filter. If you’re keeping up on routinely changing your air filter, plan to have your ducts evaluated to see if they need cleaning.

9. You’ve Recently Completed Major or Dusty Work

Any time you have work done that creates a lot of dust, you should plan to have your ducts cleaned at the end of the project. This may include projects like tearing out or installing walls or replacing wallboard or drywall. But it may also include projects like mudding and sanding. All of this puts a lot of dust in your home’s air that will eventually make its way into your ducts and need cleaning out.

10. You Recently Purchased the House

It’s always a good idea to have your ducts cleaned when you purchase a home, whether it’s a private sale or a new construction. With new constructions, you want to get all the dust out from the building process if it wasn’t done before you took possession. If you bought from a private seller, you want to clean out all of the contaminants from the previous owner which may include cleaning products, hair, pet dander, mold, vape or smoke residue and so much more. You can protect your family’s health by cleaning these contaminants out quickly.

11. Recent Duct Damage

Consider any damage to your ducts from other household problems. Of particular concern are fires in your home or any water that may have gotten into your ducts from household floods. Plan to have your ducts cleaned once you’ve completed other remediation efforts.

Since 2010, property owners around Zebulon have trusted the NATE-certified technicians at Landen Heating and Cooling to keep their homes comfortable. Our team provides ductwork services including installation, repair and sealing along with indoor air quality solutions and heating and AC installation, maintenance and repair.

Call to schedule a consultation with one of our duct specialists today.

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