man coughing on couch

How Often Should You Have the Ducts Cleaned in Your Home HVAC System?

July 31, 2023

With the recent fires mixed with the Covid pandemic, we’ve uncovered the importance of clean air. Without it, our health is compromised.

Before this, many people believed indoor air quality was immune to the outside hazards of pollen, contaminants, and mold. Over the last three years, abundant information has highlighted the importance of indoor air quality.

While you can help indoor air quality by vacuuming or insisting visitors remove their shoes, you cannot do much about hidden issues. Dirty ducts harbor unseen irritants that go airborne when air passes through the vents. The air quality decreases, putting your family’s health at risk. As your HVAC system’s efficiency lowers, your bills go up.

Instead of dealing with the adverse side effects, clean your ducts! Duct cleaning assists in keeping your home’s air quality at peak levels, but how often should you clean your ducts, and what signs indicate it is time to call in the professionals? Read on to learn all the information you need to know about this process.

Understanding Air Ducts and their Role in HVAC Systems

Air ducts are the veins of our homes. Just as our heart pumps blood to our organs through a system of veins, air ducts do the same for our homes.

Our arteries clog if we live on cheese, greasy pizza, and fried foods. What was once normal range blood pressure and healthy veins are taxed with buildup. Clots prevent blood from being delivered.

The same is true of our air ducts. They can become clogged or overrun. The result: warmed or cooled air does not deliver as efficiently as it could… or at all.

When our systems work harder due to poor ventilation, it shows in our energy bill and home’s comfort. With a little TLC, our systems can run at their full capacity.

The purpose and function of air ducts in an HVAC system

In a central air system, ducts are the delivery method for warm or cooled air. Without them, the air never reaches the rooms. Before air is delivered, your unit filters it, removing dirt and debris, and then utilizes the ducts to send the air to each room. Then, through the return vents, the air is sucked back to the unit to be cleansed before repeating the cycle.

How air ducts accumulate dirt, dust, and contaminants over time

As with any area of your home, dust and debris build up over time. In the case of an HVAC system, this happens when pollen, dirt, dust, or pet dander enters the vents from falling into the vent or the recirculation of air. If there is a leak in the system, contaminants can enter the ductwork. If moisture is abundant, it creates an environment inside the ductwork for mold to grow.

Regular maintenance and cleaning is important for optimal HVAC performance

Do we ever think about our ductwork? It is a classic case of out of sight, out of mind. Yet, taking some time to pay attention to what is hidden inside your walls is essential.

Regular maintenance of our ductwork saves us money. By keeping the ducts clean of debris, dust, dander, and other irritants, our furnaces do not have to work as hard to clean the air before circulating it. Less effort on the part of our unit equates to fewer repairs and replacements.

Do you remember how breathing the air in after the Canadian wildfires felt? The haze and particles in the air left you feeling unclean – even though we couldn’t always see the contaminants. This concept is the same for our living space. The HVAC systems filter the air and then push it through the system – delivering clean and temperature-controlled air to each of our rooms. With clean ducts, air quality and comfort improve.

Because the air is cleaner, your home is safer – the risk of long-term issues from breathing dirty air decreases. You can rest assured that you are not inadvertently triggering asthma or any long-term problems for your family.

Factors Influencing the Frequency of Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is not a one-size-fits-all. For a person who lives alone and works a work-from-home position, duct cleaning is needed less often than for a family with three pets who track in pollen daily from outdoor sports seasons. Trusted technicians inspect your ducts and then give honest advice on if they need cleaned.

Indoor Air Quality Concerns

Keeping your indoor air clean is imperative to the health of your family. When the levels of pollutants become too high, you risk health effects. Beyond just irritation to your eyes, nose, and throat, you also increase symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritability, and fatigue. There is an even more profound impact of poor air quality: respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer are all linked to poor air quality.

Allergies and respiratory issues

Pennsylvania springs and falls are ripe for pollen and mold allergies. We tend to migrate inside on the high allergy count days. Unfortunately, indoor allergens can be as triggering as the outside.

Without a breeze or escape route, the allergens simply recirculate through your home. Dust mites, bugs, and mold spores hide in the vents and floors. Allergens are easily carried in via shoes and further pollute the indoor air.

Opening windows, using air cleaners, avoiding overly cluttered walls and floors, controlling humidity levels, and frequently cleaning your home can all help. Cleaning your ductwork eliminates the allergens that have been sucked into or made a home inside them. With no allergens present in the ductwork, they can’t blow around when the furnace kicks on.

Pet Dander

We love our furry family members. They give constant companionship and a loyalty we only wish to mimic. Still, our little fur babies also provide a great deal of dander. An estimated 6 of every 10 people are regularly exposed to cat or dog dander.

You can help with pet dander by removing wall-to-wall carpeting and replacing it with flooring that won’t grab ahold of the dander. Cover your vents with a cheesecloth so less dander enters the ducts, and keep the pets out of your bedroom so you do not sleep in dander all night.

However, pet fur will absolutely travel to the registers, fall in, and settle into your ductwork. The only way to ensure all of this dander is removed is through duct cleaning.

Renovation and construction

The byproducts of renovating your home come in the form of allergens. The dust and debris, like pet dander, can easily fall into vents, waiting to be recirculated throughout your house with your air conditioner.

Duct cleaning removes this debris from your vents, allowing only clean air to push through your vents. While working on your home, take measures to decrease the allergens. When picking flooring, consider something other than carpet, which holds dust mites and pet dander. Even with hardwood flooring, check for allergens in finishing products and sanding. The sanding can release dust into the air when installing and mudding drywall, so run a fan to blow the air outside, wear masks and gloves, and consider a thorough cleaning of your home, including your vents, following the construction.

Signs Indicating the Need for Duct Cleaning

You may be thinking, “Yeah. I’ve never cleaned my vents, and my allergies are worse lately… but does that really mean it is time to get a duct cleaning?”

At Leckron’s, we completely understand the hesitation to purchase a service – who wants to throw money away? Yet, simultaneously, we don’t want you to risk causing allergies and risking your family’s long-term health when a simple cleaning can help.

Common signs that you need duct cleaning

It’s a classic case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” If you don’t know the signs of clogged or dirty ducts, you could quickly write off some signs as another cause.

Visible dust or debris around supply registers and vents

Clean ducts won’t have signs of dust. Before the air arrives in your various rooms, the HVAC system’s filter has cleaned it. Therefore, if you see a puff of dust when your central air turns on or notice sitting dust and debris by the register, your issue is likely between the air filter and the register – which is the ductwork.

Frequent occurrence of respiratory symptoms or allergies

Some people have allergies no matter how clean a home is – they operate in a low-dose-Zyrtec kind of life. The issue is when allergies become more frequent than expected.

If you find that when you enter your home, your allergies kick in worse than any other location, it could indicate something is up in your ducts. Perhaps your home has always made you a little sniffly because you own a Turkish Van and have cat allergies… you know what to expect. But when the sniffs and sneezes become much more frequent – this is your cue that perhaps the dander has accumulated and is being recirculated throughout your home.

Use your family’s baseline as a guide. What are they like in other places? Are they worse in your home than they were previously? If respiratory symptoms are increasing, it may be time to check your ducts.

Unusual odors or unpleasant smells coming from the vents

Every home has a case of “What’s that smell?” It could be the sponge left in the sink too long or a litter box that needs a fresh litter change. However, when you cannot locate the source of the smell, you need to check out your ductwork.

Kneel to the register and smell – particularly when the air kicks on and a new wave of air passes through the ducts. If the odor coming out of the vents is quite strong, you likely need a cleaning.

Rodents, bugs, or mold all have the opportunity to make a home in the ductwork. An experienced HVAC company can identify the source of the smell and perform cleaning for you.

Inefficient HVAC system performance or increased energy bills

Just like a clogged furnace filter causes a rise in your heating bill, so will clogged ducts. The clog prevents air from moving through efficiently, and by the time it reaches the rooms, it will have lost some of its cooling or warmth, making the furnace have to kick back on sooner. More energy to compensate for this energy loss directly relates to an increased energy bill.

Benefits of Regular Duct Cleaning

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends homeowners get their air ducts inspected yearly… and for good reason. Throughout the year, a plethora of activities take place in your home. From pets to smoke pollution to renovation – your ducts accumulate debris. With regular inspection, you keep it in check, as well as keep your energy bills predictable.

Improved indoor air quality

The most important part of regular duct cleaning is keeping indoor air free from contamination. When ducts are ignored, it becomes nearly impossible to determine if your home is recirculating compromised air. The only way to know air is not harboring invisible allergens is to ensure the ductwork carrying your air is clean. Yearly inspections identify when ducts require a cleaning.

Reduction of allergens, dust, and mold growth

Dust, allergens, and mold hide inside the vents, accumulating and potentially recirculating in your home. Regular inspections and cleanings eliminate a problem before it begins. You can sweep and scrub your home to your heart’s content, but if the issue is inside the vents, you will only reach it with a thorough duct cleaning.

Enhanced HVAC system efficiency and performance

Your HVAC system only works as well as the ductwork. The ducts in a central air system work like veins connecting the home to the unit. After the air leaves the unit, the ducts deliver it cleaned and temperature-controlled. From here, the thermostat tells the indoor unit when to kick back on again. If the air vents cause a delay in the filtered air delivery, the system will need to turn on more often. If the air is circulating debris, dust, and dander, the filters will clog quicker, using more energy to push the air through. By keeping the ductwork in prime condition, your system can quickly and efficiently deliver clean air to each room.

Potential cost savings and health benefits associated with clean air ducts

As expected, your energy bills are less when your system doesn’t have to work hard to push air through. This savings is realized both in real-time and in unseen costs. With no debris and clogs, the unit uses less energy.

Yet, the saving continues beyond there. The unseen savings come from the unit not overworking – meaning fewer breakdowns and a longer time between replacement units. Of course, without needing allergy medicine, doctor’s appointments, and room air filters to help stay on top of allergens, you may even see savings in medical bills!

Professional Duct Cleaning Process

The first step in duct cleaning is to hire professionals like Leckron’s. It is easy to fall for the $99 special you see in a monthly ad, but these are often scams. Instead of calling up the first enticing offer, inspect your system to see if you need duct cleaning. Look for a company with reviews boasting their trustworthiness and professionalism. Once you’ve secured your HVAC company, the steps of duct cleaning follow this pattern.

Inspection and assessment of the duct system

Before starting a cleaning process, your technicians should inspect the ducts that pull in air and take it to the central unit and the ducts that carry the air from the indoor unit to the registers. Many companies use a camera while performing this process. Ask if you can look at what the technicians are viewing. This image gives you a clear before and after for comparison.

Cleaning techniques and equipment used for duct cleaning

Your technicians utilize negative air pressure. They cut an access hole in one of the ducts and attach a hose to this hole, securing it. Then they shut off all the vents and turn on a high-powered vacuum to suck any debris, dander, dirt, and mold into the vacuum.

The technicians work each duct, utilizing agitation tools and air compressors to blow accumulated dirt and debris around so the vacuum can suck it up. Both the supply side and return vents will have this process performed on them, so all dust throughout the ductwork is pushed to the main duct and into the vacuum.

Restoration and sealing of ducts, if necessary

Following the duct cleaning, your technician will seal incisions, repair issues with the ducts, and inspect the system for repair needs. When complete, they should allow you to see the “after.” Take this opportunity to see the difference in your ductwork! A reputable technician and company will not leave your home dustier than they found it. Instead, they should clean up any dust that has escaped during the cleaning process.

Concerns and misconceptions about duct cleaning

People have various opinions regarding duct cleaning. This variance is understandable, especially considering some shifty companies that used false advertising for duct cleaning. Rest assured, a reputable company is not looking to scam future lifelong customers. At Leckron’s, we want you to feel comfortable investing in duct cleaning. As such, we are addressing common misconceptions about duct cleaning.

Ducts don’t get dirty

As much as we wish this were true – it just is not. If you consider your veins, they have less opportunity for entry of contaminants, and yet they still get clogged. Ducts have a very obvious opening in which dander, dirt, and pests can claim as their home. Any smells coming from your vents can result from the accumulation of bacteria, dead insects or rodents, or mold, finding an ideal location to grow.

You can clean ducts yourself

Unfortunately, this is not the case. While you may be able to reach the very front part of a duct, most homeowners need the know-how to clean ducts safely without jeopardizing the vents themselves. Furthermore, they often do not have a strong enough vacuum to create the negative air pressure necessary to clean the vents. Should your ducts have any vermin or mold, you do not want to clean this yourself. Professionals know how to remove the problem without risking airborne contamination.

Air duct cleaning is messy

This may be the case if you hire a company without experience or believe a “too good to be true” offer. However, a professional company like Leckron’s prides itself on leaving a location the same as they found it. The goal is to avoid leaving dust and dirt, risking it falling back into the vents. A professional company ensures your home is as clean as when it started.

Your home will have no air pollution

As much as we wish this were true, air pollution is impossible to eliminate. Whenever you open your door or walk in from the outside world, you bring contaminants that stick to your hair, clothes, and shoes. If you have pets, they have their dander and any pollution they bring on their fur. 100% clean air is a beautiful goal, but it is unattainable. A company stating this is using false advertising and is a red flag when looking for an honest HVAC company to partner with.

You must get monthly cleanings to keep your home allergen-free

This advice, again, is part of a company trying to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. While we suggest getting your ducts inspected, you do not clean them monthly… often not even yearly. The amount you should clean your ducts 100% depends on the state of the ducts. Clean as needed – not necessarily on a calendar date.

Partner with Leckron’s Comfort Solution

Unprofessional air duct cleaning companies, unfortunately, exist. They use bogus methods to sell you something you don’t need.

At Leckron’s, air duct cleaning is one of our many services. We want our customers to be a part of our community, not just a one-off sale. We aim to make your home safe – not upsell you. If you do not need an air duct cleaning, we won’t recommend it.

Likewise, should you require one, we will allow you to see what we see so you know you are making sound decisions. Our technicians are trained to listen to our customers and provide tailored solutions for every home and need.

Very professional, punctual and most importantly, honest! It’s hard to find good service, but Steven was very knowledgeable and didn’t try to make me pay for things that were unneeded! I’ll definitely use this company again! – Keith R., Customer

Contact Leckron’s today to schedule an inspection of your air ducts. We have a reputation as a trusted HVAC company in the area and will provide experienced technicians to evaluate your ducts. Should cleaning be required, we work with you to ensure you are comfortable with the entire process.

Don’t let indoor air quality harm your family’s health – ensure your home is free from invisible allergens. Give us a call today!

You May Also Like

Preparing your HVAC system for Spring

Preparing your HVAC system for Spring

After our blast of Arctic air in mid-January, it's perfectly reasonable to dream of spring. When we start envisioning flower gardens and breezy weather, it means one more thing: it's time for your spring HVAC maintenance. The fall and the spring are the perfect...

Demystifying HVAC Filters: Your Complete Guide to Cleaner Air

Demystifying HVAC Filters: Your Complete Guide to Cleaner Air

One of the most basic tasks of a homeowner is to change the HVAC filter. Yet, this seemingly straightforward chore can become burdened with nuances. What kind of filter? Reusable or disposable? Fiberglass or pleated? MERV, FPR, or MPR? It can all be overwhelming. Air...

A Comprehensive Guide to Furnaces: Understanding Heating Systems

A Comprehensive Guide to Furnaces: Understanding Heating Systems

Furnaces are the heart of our HVAC system, so it makes sense we spend some time understanding how they work. Do you know the differences between furnace types, what considerations to consider before picking one, how much maintenance they require, and the environmental...

Why Choose Us

Flat Rate Pricing

Free Second Opinions

Free In-home Consultations

100% Satisfaction Guaranteed

Pin It on Pinterest