Is Air Duct Cleaning Necessary? Here’s What Experts Say!

Is air duct cleaning necessary? What happens if you don't clean air ducts? Click here to learn everything you need to know.

In light of COVID, businesses and homeowners have taken a hard focus on improving indoor air quality to make spaces both public and private safer for all.

Air duct cleaning is one intriguing initiative to reduce airborne contaminants. As the mover of air throughout the building, it makes sense that air ducts could be essential contributors to air quality. And if they’re dirty, it sounds like a good idea to clean them so that they don’t shoot dust everywhere.

So is air duct cleaning necessary?

Common sense would say it is. But the truth is, although you may need it in some situations, there are many cases when air duct cleaning won’t have much impact at all.

There’s a lot of confusion around whether you should clean your air ducts. We’ll make life easier with this guide on when to hire a professional and when to take a different approach.

Is Air Duct Cleaning Necessary?

When you research if air duct cleaning is necessary, search results will show you countless air duct cleaning services saying it’s a critical practice for everyone. If you look at more unbiased resources like the EPA’s guidelines though, you may think that it does not affect indoor air quality at all.

The answer to air duct cleaning falls in a gray area, which the EPA acknowledges in their recommendations. There is no final answer for everyone. Determining if duct cleaning is practical comes down to three variables — the state of the ducts, household/building health needs, and the quality of the cleaning service.

With these variables in mind, some situations warrant duct cleaning while others do not. 

When You Don’t Need Air Duct Cleaning

Some professionals offer a blanket recommendation of having an air duct cleaning every 3-5 years. Others recommend an even more frequent schedule.

It’s okay to be skeptical about these claims. The EPA notes that there is no conclusive connection between dirty air ducts and an increase in dust levels around the house.

If you’re a healthy individual, you don’t need to schedule a cleaning for air ducts in good structural condition. Dust particles stick to the dirty walls of air ducts, so even if it does build up, it often doesn’t get shot back into the house.

You may go several years without ever thinking about cleaning your air ducts. Yet there are still cases where even healthy households should have their air ducts cleaned.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association highlights air duct inspections as an essential annual maintenance task with your normal scheduled HVAC tune-up. If you find extensive dirt buildup, damage, or signs of dangerous contaminants, you may need a duct cleaning.

Bear in mind, a duct problem doesn’t always mean you need a duct cleaning alone. Many cleaning companies with limited services can’t help you with certain problems. For example, if you find your ducts have a rodent or pest infestation, you’ll need to call an exterminator before you have your ducts cleaned.

When to Get an Air Duct Cleaning

Commercial building owners may want to keep a regular air duct cleaning schedule to ensure a clean environment for the public. If you recently take over a building and don’t know the last time it had one, scheduling an air duct cleaning can provide peace of mind.

In residential settings, the decision to clean your air ducts should be based more on personal preference. People with asthma or advanced respiratory issues may benefit from frequent air duct cleanings.

In most cases, the dust buildup will still have to be excessive for a duct cleaning service to be warranted. If your air ducts don’t show signs of an overflow of dust and you want to improve your air quality, an air purifier would make a bigger difference than having your air ducts cleaned.

It’s not uncommon for registers to collect dust, but if you see them blowing dust out, then you should consider cleaning your air ducts. In other cases, even if dust isn’t blowing out, there may be moisture and mold accumulation that can cause indoor air problems.

When you see mold or contaminants in ducts, they will need a cleaning, but that isn’t the most pressing issue. If you only clean your ducts, you won’t be getting to the root of the problem, and it will only continue to come back.

How to Find a Duct Cleaning Service

There are several reasons that you shouldn’t do your own air duct cleaning. Unless you have a professional do it, you’ll likely make the problem worse. The dust that gets knocked loose during cleaning is more harmful than the dust sitting in an undisturbed duct.

Professionals use negative pressure vacuums during the air duct cleaning process. They’re high-powered machines that prevent dust from re-entering the home. Most homeowners don’t have the kind of equipment or training that a technician offers, so it’s always best to reach out to professionals.

What to Look For in an Air Duct Cleaning Service

Although you should work with a professional, you need to be discerning with the service you choose. The benefits of air duct cleaning are best realized when more work is done, and a service company that only cleans ducts will not do enough to remedy any air problems caused by them.

Search for a company in good standing with the NADCA that offers a full system clean. While cleaning ducts isn’t a bad idea, having a technician clean the blower, evaporator coils, heat exchanger, and other system components as well will do more to prevent air pollution, fire risks, and system failure.

If you have mold buildup, make sure your technician can remove it during the clean. Some technicians use chemical treatments to kill microbes in the system. Although that can kill the mold, it may not fix the root cause, which might be a leak or some other damage.

Look for companies that provide repair work as well, so they can identify and remedy the duct problem. A company like DUCTZ, for example, offers duct cleaning as well as HVAC restoration. When you need a duct cleaning, they’ll clean the whole system and find faults in the ductwork that can be fixed to prevent duct issues in the future.

Is Duct Cleaning Right for You?

The question remains: Is air duct cleaning necessary?

Many people take the EPA’s report as proof that duct cleaning isn’t necessary. In truth, while duct cleaning might not be critical for healthy people without duct issues, there are plenty of cases where air duct cleaning can improve a building’s environment. The most important consideration is working with a reputable service company that offers comprehensive service.

Getting your air ducts cleaned can get you one step closer to living your healthiest life. For more lifestyle tips and advice, be sure to follow our blog.

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