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How Often Should You Clean Your Air Ducts?

Sharon Greenthal
Written by Sharon Greenthal
Updated October 12, 2021
man removing air filter/ air duct
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You can breathe easy by knowing how often you should really be cleaning your air ducts

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The air we breathe is incredibly important, so in pursuit of a clean home, you may wonder if you should be cleaning out your air ducts every once in a while. However, it turns out how often you need to clean your air ducts can vary based on who lives in your home and any problems that may arise. 

Before making an appointment, read on to learn more about air duct cleaning.

What Is Air Duct Cleaning?

A complete air duct cleaning involves cleaning all parts of the forced air system, including:

  • Supply and return air ducts

  • Grilles

  • Diffusers

  • Heat exchangers

  • Heating and cooling coils

  • Drip pans

  • Fan motor and housing

  • Unit housing

A thorough air duct cleaning should remove all visible and hidden dirt and other debris from the air ducts and the connected HVAC. Otherwise, the dirt in the air duct system will quickly build up again from the dust and debris left behind on other parts of the HVAC system.

repairman checking air duct
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When Should I Clean My Air Ducts?

How often you need to have your air ducts professionally cleaned depends on who you ask. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), It isn’t necessary to have your air ducts cleaned unless there is evidence of mold, vermin, standing water, or an excessive amount of dust and debris.

If there is someone in your home with breathing challenges or allergies and their symptoms seem to be getting worse, you may consider having an expert come out and take a look at your ducts. If that doesn’t apply, you should just keep an eye out for signs of excessive dirt or mold, but otherwise, regularly vacuuming your registers may do the trick.

The EPA also recommends that consumers use caution and do their own research if a service company recommends applying chemical biocide or sealants to protect air ducts. In some cases, they can be suitable, but at this time, no chemical biocides are registered by the EPA for use in air duct systems.

For further guidance, the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) notes that you can clean your ducts:

  • Every three to five years

  • When you move into a new home

  • After building a new home

  • After completing a home remodeling project

  • If you have pets in the home that shed

  • If smokers live in the household

The NADCA also says that the frequency of cleaning comes down to the homeowners’ preferences, but cleaning your system may improve airflow and improve energy efficiency. If you’re noticing an unpleasant smell, consult an air duct cleaning pro near you to see if air duct dirt and debris are the reasons.

Ultimately, it will be up to your home and your unique needs to determine if and how often you clean your air ducts. If someone in your home has allergies or you notice mold or debris, it could be worth it to call a pro for an inspection.

How Do I Find a Qualified Air Duct Cleaning Service?

You should hire a professional specializing in HVAC air duct cleaning and certified by NADCA for this job. Be wary of any company that recommends yearly air duct cleaning or makes sweeping claims about air duct cleaning and your family’s health. A reputable air duct cleaning company will charge between $270 to $490 or more, depending on the size of the job. 

The EPA recommends that you ask the service provider if they will:

  • Inspect for asbestos before beginning the cleaning process

  • Protect your furniture during the cleaning

  • Reseal any holes made during the cleaning process

Like with hiring any contractor, be sure to check online reviews and references before hiring an air duct cleaning pro.

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