Air Duct Cleaning 101: The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning & Preventing Dirty Ducts
While every house may be different, they all have one thing in common: an HVAC system.
This powerhouse of a heating and cooling system heats your home during frigid winters and cools it during sweltering summers. It’s a necessity for keeping your home comfortable and livable.
But like any part of your home, an HVAC system requires regular maintenance and care.
One critical and often overlooked part of caring for an HVAC system is duct cleaning.
Here is everything homeowners need to know about duct cleaning for their HVAC systems.
Why is Air Duct Cleaning Important?
Air ducts are an essential part of your HVAC system, as they help the hot and cold air travel through the system and into different parts of your home.
Over time, these ducts will naturally get dirty with dirt, dust, and other types of debris which can affect the way your HVAC system performs.
If the system gets too dirty, it will have to work harder to heat and cool your home and may do a poor job.
As a result, this will end up costing you more on your utility bills. The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to perform or hire someone to do an HVAC duct cleaning.
3 Benefits of HVAC System Cleaning
Many people ask, “Is duct cleaning a waste of money?”
The answer: Absolutely not.
You should make sure your HVAC system’s ducts are cleaned regularly.
Here are three notable benefits of air conditioning duct cleaning:
1. Improves Indoor Air Quality
According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), your home’s HVAC system sucks in the contaminants created by us, our pets, and everything around us, and then re-circulates them multiple times a day.
As a result, these contaminants are released back into the air you breathe.
While it may not be unhealthy air, there is still the potential for it to cause health issues. An air duct cleaning will help remove these contaminants, leaving you with cleaner, fresher air.
2. More Energy Savings
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 43% of a household utility bill goes toward heating and cooling, and anywhere from $200 to $400 could be going toward wasted energy each year.
So how can you make sure you get the most out of your air ducts without wasting energy and your hard-earned money?
Air duct cleaning!
When your air ducts get dirty, they have to work harder than necessary to heat and cool your home, ultimately costing you more.
By performing duct cleaning, your HVAC system won’t have to work so hard to heat or cool your home.
The result: you can save tons of money on your utility bills.
3. Keeps Your HVAC Working Longer
The number one reason why HVAC systems fail is because of a lack of proper cleaning and maintenance.
If you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a whole new system, the easiest thing you can do is invest in the maintenance of the one you have. Which is why we highly recommend scheduling air duct cleaning services, as needed.
When to Explore Air Duct Cleaning
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that air conditioning duct system cleaning is something to do on an as-needed basis. If you notice any of the following in your home, then it is time for HVAC cleaning services:
Substantial, visible mold growth inside sheet metal or other hard surface ducts
Mold on the HVAC system itself
Rodent and/or insect infestation
Excessive amounts of dirt, dust, and debris clogging the ducts
The way HVAC systems and air ducts are installed can make it challenging for you to see all their parts and components.
For that reason, we recommend you find a reliable air duct cleaning company to perform an inspection for mold growth.
How to Clean Your Air DuctsOnce you’ve determined you need an HVAC duct cleaning, there are two fundamental ways to get it done.
1. DIY Air Duct Cleaning
The first option is to perform a DIY duct cleaning.
Many choose to go with an air duct cleaning do-it-yourself method to save on costs.
However, there are some things to know before you choose to DIY.
First, do your research before you start.
DIY air duct cleaning is no easy job. You need to do it properly for it to be effective and not damage your air ducts or HVAC system.
Second, recognize you don’t have all the same air duct cleaning equipment that a professional company does.
This fact alone makes your job harder and more time consuming.
You also have to consider all the things you may encounter during ductwork cleaning:
Insects and dead rodents
It’s not a job for the faint of heart.
If you encounter mold, it is best to call a professional to take care of the removal immediately.
Duct cleaning experts will do the job safely and effectively, eliminating or substantially reducing the chance of mold or rodents coming back.
While DIY air duct cleaning seems like it can save you money, you may end up with a much higher air duct cleaning cost than what you started with because ducts can get damaged and your HVAC duct cleaning may not be effective.
2. Hire a Professional Air Duct Cleaning Service
Since DIY duct cleaning can be complicated and expensive, we advise hiring professional HVAC duct cleaning services.
These specialized companies have teams of trained professionals that can clean your HVAC ducts for you.
One way to find a duct cleaning service provider is to check your local listings for duct cleaning services.
You can also check with the NADCA for their recommendations.
Just beware of certain claims air duct cleaning services may try to tell you or sell you on.
For example, they may claim they’re EPA-approved, but the EPA doesn’t certify, endorse, or approve air duct cleaning companies.
So claims of “EPA Approval” are false.
Also, check that your HVAC duct cleaning service is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This will help you find outstanding HVAC and duct cleaning providers while avoiding underperformers.
Working With an HVAC Duct Cleaner
In most cases, professional duct cleaning services are better, more thorough, and more cost-effective than DIY.
Duct cleaning companies use professional-grade equipment to do the job better and quicker vs. doing this on your own.
They’ll do a thorough heating duct cleaning job by inspecting the ducts before they even begin. This is to ensure there are no asbestos-containing materials in your system.
Once they’ve done that, they’ll move on to the actual duct cleaning, by vacuuming and carefully brushing the ducts free of dirt and debris.
Once the central part of the ductwork cleaning is done, the technician applies a sealant to close any potential air leaks within the ductwork.
Many companies use Aeroseal to seal air ducts after an air conditioning duct cleaning.
Our product is unique and works much differently than the mastic and HVAC tape commonly used in DIY air duct cleaning.
With Aeroseal, the technician will use a computerized system to find all the air leaks within your ductwork.
Once they’ve identified the leaks, they’ll apply Aeroseal into the ducting, where it will automatically find and fill any leaks in your system.
Sealing your air ducts makes your HVAC system work more efficiently and makes sure your ducts stay cleaner for longer.
Air Duct Cleaning Cost
While professional HVAC duct cleaning is the best option, many are concerned with the duct cleaning cost.
According to Angi (formerly Angie’s List), the average cost of duct cleaning services is $379, with most homeowners paying between $268 to $492.
The cost of air duct cleaning can vary based on several factors:
The size of the home ($0.14 to $0.25 per square foot)
The number of air vents ($25 to $50 per vent)
Duct configuration/type and accessibility
Labor ($90 to $125 per hour)
In some cases, you may need to take additional costs into account such as:
Pest removal ($200 to $1200)
Mold and mildew removal ($1,125 to $3,345)
Asbestos removal ($5 to $20 per square foot)
Air duct repairs ($200 to $800)
Add-on services can also add to the total cost:
Video inspection ($75 to $125)
Furnace cleaning ($60 to $150 per furnace)
Air conditioning repairs ($350 average but varies widely depending on repair service)
AC tune-up ($75 to $200)
While this may sound like a lot, it is often worth the cost, especially if it means you get quality duct cleaning services from a reputable company.
While you may find HVAC companies that offer great deals on duct cleaning, the rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
These less-than-reputable duct cleaning services will quote you a lower price just to get your attention.
After the job’s done, you may end up paying thousands of dollars for repairs from a botched job—far more than you would have if you hired a reputable company from the start.
To sum it up, HVAC duct cleaning is a worthwhile investment.
Local duct cleaning providers will make sure your system is cleaned and working properly.
Doing this keeps your ducts clean, which allows your HVAC system to work more efficiently, saving you money on your utility bills.
Also, by hiring a professional air duct cleaning service, you’ll make sure the job’s done right the first time.
Thanks to efficient, time-saving products and services like Aeroseal, you’ll have clean air ducts that’ll stay clean longer and save money on your utility bill.