What Tools Should the Pros Use to Clean My Home’s Air Ducts?

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated January 10, 2022
A man cleaning an air duct by using a vacuum cleaner
Photo: Bill Oxford / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Only a pro with the right tools can make your air ducts sparkle

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While vacuums are the cornerstone of air duct cleaning toolkits, scrub brushes, air skippers, and snake-like cameras certainly help get the job done. Before you hire a professional to clean your home’s air duct system, ask them about the tools they plan to use. Let’s review the best ones all pros should use.

Why Clean My Home’s Air Ducts?

To maintain your HVAC system and improve your home’s air quality, you should have your air ducts cleaned every three to five years. While cleaning them isn’t required, The National Air Duct Cleaners Association strongly recommends it. A major sign that it’s time to hire a duct cleaner is if someone in your home is suffering from allergies or illness that includes sneezing and coughing.

DIY Air Duct Cleaning vs. Hiring a Pro

Although you can clean your air ducts yourself, hiring a pro will get you much better results. Household tools, especially vacuums, aren’t equipped to clean air ducts thoroughly. Using the wrong tools may even damage your ducts and encourage mold growth, which will be expensive to remove in the future and may require (safe) chemical treatments. To ensure your entire duct system gets a thorough cleaning, it’s best to hire an air duct cleaning pro near you with the right tools to do the work.

How Much Does Professional Air Duct Cleaning Cost?

A woman’s hands in gloves while cleaning an air duct with a sponge
Photo: TRAVELARIUM / Adobe Stock

Professional air duct cleaning costs $400 on average but can vary depending on the size of your house, the number of ducts in the system, and how complex and accessible the ductwork is. Cleaning ductwork in larger homes costs between $700 and $1,000. Mold and mildew removal is more expensive, with costs averaging between $600 and $2,000.

Tools Professionals Use to Clean Air Ducts

Whoever you hire to clean your air ducts should have these essential tools in their arsenal. Ask them what they’ll use to clean your system before hiring them. If they don’t have the right equipment, they won’t clean well enough.

Point of Entry Tools

Professional air duct cleaners have to be able to access your home’s duct system at several different points, not just at the vents. Accessing an air duct at multiple points allows them to clean the entire system thoroughly. Professionals use various access equipment, including small drills and screwdrivers, to create small access ports or doors to fully inspect and clean your home’s air ducts.

Air Duct Inspection Equipment

Before they get to work, HVAC professionals need to assess the state of your air ducts. They’ll use point of entry tools to look inside your system and determine how much dust and debris they need to remove as well as whether or not there’s any dangerous mold or asbestos contamination in your ducts. Dealing with asbestos is hazardous and requires special procedures, so leave that to a specially trained contractor.

Professionals should have the right inspection equipment. The equipment used allows them to thoroughly inspect your ducts beyond the parts that are in plain sight. Their inspection tools can include periscope equipment and camera systems that allow them to see into hard-to-reach areas. 

Air Duct Vacuum Devices

Vacuums are the most important tool for air duct cleaning because they do most of the work. Most professionals either use a truck-mounted vacuum system or a portable one (or a combination) to maximize its sucking power. They feed the vacuum through the duct system to suck up all the dust and debris, including the stuff they previously loosened with brushes and compressed air tools.

Air Duct Brushes

Both manual hand brushes and power brushes work well to scrub dust and debris from your air duct system. The professional you hire to clean your system should have a range of brushes handy.

Compressed Air Tools

All air duct cleaning professionals should have some combination of blowguns, air whips, and air skimmers in their toolkit. These compressed air tools help them loosen stubborn debris that’s stuck in your air ducts.

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