Do I Need to Clean my Air Ducts?

Cleaning out your air conditioning ducts can be an expensive proposition, which leads many homeowners to wonder if it’s actually worth the cost. The truth is that every situation is different, and making the decision to clean out your ducts needs to be carried out on a case-by case basis.

Pros and Cons of Cleaning Your Ducts

There are a few reasons why you may want to consider cleaning out your ducts, but there are also a few reasons why you may decide to wait.

Pros of Duct Cleaning

  • If you are very sensitive to dust and airborne particulates that can circulate through your home, having your ducts cleaned may help provide you with cleaner air.
  • If your ducts are very dirty and filled with debris, it could be impeding the air flow, making your AC work harder. This in turn makes for higher energy bills and more maintenance on the unit. In extreme cases you may find that your energy bill drops by as much as 40 percent with a good cleaning if your ducts were severely clogged.
  • If you have recently remodeled, you may have an excess of potentially harmful particulates inside your ducts that should be removed.
  • If you have fiberglass ducts, they’ve probably been collecting a lot of dust and debris over the years. They may need to be cleaned more often.

Cons of Duct Cleaning

  • Cost. It can cost up to $800 to clean the ducts in a 2,000 square foot house, which can make a serious dent in your budget.
  • The EPA has found that most filters catch enough particulates that dirty ducts are not in any way harmful to your health, so if you aren’t overly sensitive, you probably won’t notice a difference in your air quality whether you clean them or not.
  • Changing your filters regularly can often do a better job of getting rid of any circulating dust than cleaning your ducts.

Checking Your Ducts

Believe it or not, your ducts may not even be that dirty — or if they are, the dirt may be just around the registers and not through the whole system. With a digital camera, it’s easy to find out what shape your ducts are in.

Remove the grates from a few registers and extend your camera down inside as far as you can reach — don’t drop it!

Take pictures inside the duct from several angles and positions.

If you find some build up of dust at the openings of the registers, but not too far inside, just vacuum them out with your vacuum’s hose attachment to clean them.

If you happen to notice a lot of build-up sitting inside your ducts that is too far away to reach with the vacuum hose, then you might find that it’s worthwhile to call for a cleaning.

Repeat this process after a renovation, or if you happen to notice a drop in air quality or in AC performance. While you’ll probably find that your ducts are just fine the vast majority of the time, any time that you notice a severe build up of debris, you’ll know that it’s time to call in the professionals for a cleaning.

One more case where a duct cleaning may be worth the expense — if you’ve just purchased a new house, you may want to get the ducts cleaned. (You don’t know the habits of the previous owners.)

Proceed with Caution

Cleaning out your AC ducts can either be a great idea or a potential waste of money. Make sure you take the time to examine your ducts and your house before you make the call.

Precision Air & Plumbing September 22, 2017

Precision

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