Looking for information on how to clean air ducts yourself? First, let's talk about why you want to clean them—and whether or not investing in the tools and materials required to get the job done is even worth it.
When you think about it, it does make sense that you'd want to clean your ductwork. You've spent time learning how to clean car seats, how to clean dryer vents, and how to clean walls; why should you ignore your HVAC? Plus, since its ducts make an appearance in so many different areas of your home, wouldn't it make sense that they'd get dusty? Like, really dusty?
Yes and no. Sure, HVAC filters accumulate dust, but usually not to a detrimental degree. That's why many people believe it's not actually necessary to clean them. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), duct cleaning "has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts."
What's more, cleaning your air ducts the "wrong way" can make things worse, not better. You might end up dislodging debris and bringing allergens into your home that weren't previously a problem. Inexperienced individuals could also end up permanently damaging their HVAC systems, or worse, hurting themselves. Where mold is involved, the cleanup process becomes more than just a liability for your home; it potentially becomes downright dangerous for you.
Here's what to know, and how to determine if you should clean the ducts. And while you're feeling inspired to get your home in tip-top shape, get our best tips for how to wash comforters and how to clean your garbage disposal.
How do I know if my air ducts need to be cleaned?
The EPA does recommend cleaning ducts on certain occasions: if and when there is substantial visible mold growth inside the components of your heating and cooling system, if and when the ducts are infested with rodents or insects, and if and when the ducts are so debris-filled that an enormous amount of dust is actually making its way into your home through them.
If there's visible mold or mildew on the ducts, or if you hear noises coming from within them, you should probably contact a professional. But if you're just acting on a hunch, we suggest you begin by examining the vents, grilles, drip pans, and/or registers of your unit. Do you notice any discoloration or dark dust? Do you smell anything unusual?
Another question to ask yourself is whether airflow is consistent in each room of your home. Dirt, dust, or mold buildup could be responsible for restricting the air's pathway throughout your house.
Is cleaning air ducts worth it?
If you determine or suspect that there is mold growth, a rodent or insect infestation, or dust making its way into your home through your air ducts, or if you're worried about consistent airflow room to room, it could be worth it to hire a professional to clean your ducts.
There is, however, the matter of expenses. As you might expect, it can be incredibly pricey to turn to the experts—so, if there's no real need to do so, you might find yourself spending money unnecessarily. If mold is really the issue though, it's important to take action.
How much does it cost to have your air ducts cleaned?
According to a set of estimates from HomeAdvisor.com, professional HVAC mold removal will run you anywhere from $600 to $2,000—and that might be on top of the standard HVAC cleaning fees, which could be anywhere from $100 to $1,000. That's because mold removal often involves special equipment, chemicals, and of course, extra time on the part of the professional.
You'll likely be charged one of three ways: a flat rate for all the services and add-ons, a "per vent" fee, or a fee determined by the square footage of the ducts.
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