Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?

Air duct cleaning is a popular activity in the category of HVAC maintenance. As you know, an air duct system is a duct or conduit system that is involved in circulating air in and outside the building.

Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.

Being a major air conveyance unit, the duct surface gets composed of pollutants from the passing air within. But cleaning it regularly may not be a good idea as it possibly seems which could be considered as a waste of money. 

As per the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air duct pollutants cannot be considered the only reason for increasing dust levels or poor indoor air quality. It is one of the many possible sources of particles that are present in homes.

Several studies have shown that duct cleaning does not prevent health problems nor demonstrate an increase in particle levels due to dirty air ducts. So, When Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?

To sort out this confusion about whether to or not clean an air duct, the US EPA has provided a few conditions to inspect to decide whether the duct system requires cleaning or not.

When Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?

EPA recommends that is air duct be cleaned as needed and not regularly. If none of your house members suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms of illness and the simple visual duct inspection shows no indication of contamination, then air duct cleaning is probably unnecessary.

The air movement in the duct surely will have dust or debris that can be easily vacuumed or removed or cleaned. 

On the other hand, if any of the family members are experiencing unusual symptoms or illness that seem to be due to the indoor environment, it should be presented to a doctor and possible guidance forward. 

EPA has published the following publications for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.


As per EPA, one should consider having the air ducts cleaned in your house if:

  1. The air ducts have substantial growth of mold inside the hard surface. If the mold is in another part of the heating and cooling system, that too needs to be cleaned.
  2. Air ducts are infested with vermin (insects or rodents)
  3. Ducts clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris are released into the home from the supply registers. [Supply Registers: Supply registers are the vents that deliver warm or cool air from your central heating/cooling system to each room.
Prior to any cleaning or maintenance activities, it is advised to correct the underlying causes of mold growth, vermins, or clogging to prevent reoccurring.

Air duct system forms an important part of heating and cooling system components. Research suggests that cleaning these systems as a whole will improve efficiency and increase the operating life of the HVAC system. But there is little evidence for proving that the cleaning of ducts alone improves the efficiency of the system.

Mold in HVAC


Frightening “before” and “after” duct photos by duct cleaning service providers may make great discount coupon photos but chances are rare that your ducts are in bad shape. If a duct is seriously filthy enough to require it to be cleaned, then you should clean the entire HVAC system (more on that later), not just the ducts themselves.

There are several duct cleaning service providers and products that state to clean air ducts efficiently. But, it must be kept in mind that an improper duct cleaning procedure can also cause indoor air quality issues.  For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt, and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. This is mainly faced by an inadequately trained service provided. It may affect the whole heating and cooling system and cause you loss of both health and money. 

EPA along with suggesting duct cleaning as per requirement, they also suggest inspecting fuel-burning furnaces, stoves, or fireplaces for proper functioning and servicing to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. This means before rushing to duct cleaning, check for other possibilities that could possibly decrease indoor air quality.

Given the following conditions at your home duct system, if you still feel the air duct needs cleaning, approach a professional duct cleaning service provider with adequate experience so that you can bring a decision without wasting your money. 

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