7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Air Ducts Clean Longer

Deane Biermeier
Written by Deane Biermeier
Updated November 30, 2022
A mother sitting on sofa in the living room with her toddler
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Cleaner ducts means cleaner air

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It’s no surprise that the cleanliness of the ductwork in your home leads to cleaner indoor air for you to enjoy. Hiring an air duct cleaning company near you from time to time is an excellent way to restore a like-new condition to your HVAC duct system. 

But by following a few simple maintenance and cleaning tasks, you can help keep your ducts clean for longer and potentially reduce how often your air ducts need cleaning.  

1. Change Furnace Air Filter Regularly

The single best thing you can do to keep your air duct system clean is to monitor your furnace’s air filter and replace it every three months at a minimum. Change the filter every month to keep your air ducts clean for longer, especially for pet owners. 

Filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of between 9 and 12 remove dust and pet dander efficiently without overworking your heating or cooling system. MERV rating is a numerical value assigned to air filters that simply refers to the size and amount of particles the filter can trap and hold. 

The higher the number, the smaller the particles are that the filter can stop. Avoid using HEPA filters in your HVAC system unless your furnace specifically requires them. 

2. Maintain Low Dust Levels 

Much of the air in your home gets recycled through your HVAC system. Keeping dust levels in your home’s living spaces low by regularly vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting will keep dust from entering the ductwork through the return air used by the furnace fan. 

Use a vacuum cleaner with a dense exhaust air filter for the best results. However, a HEPA-rated air filter isn’t required. For effective hard-surface dusting, use microfiber dusters instead of dusting with conventional cloth types that may not trap particles. 

3. Keep Air Supply Vents Open

To keep airflow moving throughout your ducts, keep all of the air vents in your home open when the heating or air conditioning is running. Closing individual vents can slow down or disturb the airflow in parts of the system, allowing dust to gather in areas of reduced air movement.

 If you have a room or two in which you often fully close the air supply vents, try closing them only partially to keep air moving through the ductwork below.  

4. Clean the Air

An air purifier in living room
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Use indoor air cleaners or air purifiers to reduce the amount of airborne dust in your house. These products not only keep dust from getting into the air and back into the HVAC system, but a good air purifier can improve the overall air quality inside the home.

5. Reduce Indoor Humidity

Use your bathroom vent fan after showering or bathing, and run the cooktop or kitchen exhaust fan when cooking to keep indoor humidity in check. Dust likes to adhere to water vapor in the air and makes it more likely that it’ll find its way into the HVAC duct system. 

6. Practice Regular HVAC Maintenance

Have your HVAC system inspected and maintained by an HVAC professional every year to keep your air ducts clean. Their technicians can alert you to any maintenance issues or component problems that could affect the home’s duct system. 

7. Control Household Pests

You may also consider having your home inspected for intruders that like to call your ductwork their home. Rodents, spiders, and other household pests prefer the same heating and air conditioning comforts that we enjoy. They also like to leave behind a mess that creates dirty ducts. A pest control company can help remove the problem. 

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