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How Often Should You Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned?

The Importance Of Clean Air Ducts

Air ducts are something you likely don’t think much about until something goes wrong. At least I didn’t. And when something goes wrong with your air ducts – such as a clog or a leak – it can lead to problems like poor air quality in your home, higher energy bills, and even structural damage. Now I know firsthand how important it is to keep them well maintained and clean.

And I’m glad you’re reading this article because it means you are wanting to stay on top of it! So I’m going to share with you everything you need to know about caring for your air ducts and when you need to include a professional.

For starters, how often should you have your air ducts cleaned? The standard recommendation is every three to five years, but it depends on a variety of factors, including how old your ducts are, how often you vacuum your home, whether you have pets, and if anyone in your home smokes. If any of these relate to you, then you should probably aim for more frequent cleanings – at least once a year. You should also have them cleaned if you’ve had any major renovations or if you’ve experienced water damage in your home.

Let’s talk more about these factors so you know exactly when your air ducts need to be cleaned.

Type Of Home And Age Of Ducts

If you live in an older home, your air ducts are likely made of materials that are more susceptible to damage and need more frequent cleanings. Homes built before the 1980s often had galvanized steel ducts, which can corrode over time. If you have aluminum ducts, they can become brittle and tear easily. And if you have asbestos ducts, it’s important to have them cleaned regularly so you don’t breathe in the potentially dangerous fibers.

Also, a larger home will have more surface area for contaminants to accumulate and will need to be cleaned more often. If you are buying an older home, it’s important to have the air ducts inspected to see if they need to be cleaned before you move in.

Air DuctsHow Often You Vacuum

If you vacuum your home regularly, it will help keep the contaminants in your air ducts at a minimum and may extend the time between professional cleanings. But if you only vacuum once a month or less, then you should have your air ducts cleaned every year.

  • Carpet vs Hard Floors: If you have mostly hardwood or tile floors and minimal carpeting, your air ducts will need to be cleaned less often – every three to five years as opposed to every year. This is because carpet holds onto contaminants that can be released into the air as they are being vacuumed, whereas hardwood and tile surfaces don’t have this effect.

What To Do If You Have Pets

If you have pets, they can be a major contributor to indoor air pollution. Pet hair, dander, and saliva can all buildup in your air ducts and cause problems like allergies and asthma attacks. If you can’t keep your pets from entering the rooms where your air ducts are, you should have them cleaned every year.

What To Do If You Smoke

If someone in your home smokes, it’s not just their cigarettes that are putting their health at risk. The smoke that is exhaled into the air can collect in your air ducts and cause all kinds of problems, including asthma attacks, respiratory issues, joint pain, headaches, chronic fatigue.

If you or anyone else smokes inside your home regularly (even if they are outside), you should have your air ducts cleaned every year.

Signs They Need To Be Cleaned

Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of when your air ducts have been cleaned last. I struggle with this too! There are a few things you can look for as an indicator to clean them.

These include:

  • Rusty or dirty vents
  • Dust accumulation on furniture and appliances
  • Allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and runny nose
  • Increased asthma symptoms
  • Pets constantly licking their fur
  • Visible mold or mildew growth inside the ducts or on the registers
  • The build-up of dust, dirt, and debris.

If you see any of these things, it’s important to have your air ducts professionally cleaned right away so they don’t cause damage to your home or give you respiratory problems.

Clean Air DuctsHow To Clean Your Air Ducts

The best way to clean your air ducts is to have a professional do it for you. They have the equipment and expertise to do a thorough job and make sure all the contaminants are removed. If you’re feeling DIY-ish, there are kits available that allow you to clean the ducts yourself, but they can be difficult and dangerous to do.

A few simple things you can do to help maintain your air ducts in-between cleanings include:

  1. Regularly replace disposable filters in your heating and cooling system.
  2. Use the correct type of furnace filter for your HVAC system (e.g., fiberglass filters are best for HVAC systems with forced air).
  3. Keep your pets out of the rooms where your air ducts are located.
  4. Make sure your HVAC system is regularly maintained and serviced by a professional.
  5. Regularly vacuum all surfaces in your home, including furniture, carpets, and floors.

When They Need To Be Replaced

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to know when your air ducts are beyond cleaning. But if you see signs of mold or mildew growth, rusting, the deterioration of the metal, holes in the ductwork, or leakage of air through joints and seams, then it’s time to get them replaced. If your air ducts are more than 15-20 years old, it’s probably time to replace them regardless of whether you see any of these warning signs.

Replacing your air ducts can be an expensive undertaking, but it’s a necessary one if you want to keep your home healthy and safe. It’s also important to replace your air ducts if there has been a fire or water damage to your home.

Now that we have covered how to clean your air ducts and how often, let’s go over some common questions. Once we’ve covered these, you will know everything there is to know about cleaning air ducts!

How Long Does It Take To Clean Air Ducts?

The length of time it takes to clean air ducts depends on the size and condition of your ducts. Generally, it will take a few hours to clean them completely. However, if there is a significant build-up of dirt, dust, or other contaminants, the process may take longer.

Can I Be Home While They’re Being Cleaned?

You don’t have to be home while your air ducts are being cleaned, but it is recommended that you stay away from the area for a few hours afterward so the dust and debris can settle.

How Much Does It Cost To Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned?

It can cost anywhere from $100 up to more than $500 for your air ducts to be professionally cleaned. Some of the factors that impact the price include:

  • Size of air ducts
  • The extent of contamination
  • The type of cleaning method used
  • Location of the ducts
  • Whether any repairs are needed.

How Often Should You Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned?Should I Leave My Windows Open?

A common question people wonder about is whether opening the windows in their home will help their air quality. The short answer is no.

Leaving your windows open will not help with air ducts because it allows room air into the home and contaminants from the outside air. This makes it even harder for your HVAC system to keep up and can cause increased energy costs as well. The best thing you can do to improve indoor air quality is to make sure your air ducts are clean and your HVAC system is working properly.

Once in a while, opening a window on a nice day is fine, but shouldn’t be left open all the time. And opening windows is not a substitute for having your air ducts cleaned.

Is Dusting My House Good Or Bad?

Another common question relates to dusting your home. People often wonder if dusting is good or bad for their air quality.

Dusting is not bad for your air quality, and in fact, it’s a good way to remove some of the smaller particles from the air. However, it’s not enough to keep your air ducts clean, and you should still have them professionally cleaned regularly.

Is HVAC And Air Ducts The Same Thing?

No, HVAC and air ducts are not the same things. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and is the system in your home that regulates the temperature and humidity. Air ducts are the pipes or tubes that carry heated or cooled air from the HVAC system to the different rooms in your home.

To conclude, it is important to have your air ducts cleaned regularly to maintain a healthy and safe home. Depending on the size and condition of your air ducts, it may take a few hours to clean them completely. Again, stay on top of vacuuming and pet care. Check your ducts and vents regularly to make sure they are free of dust, dirt, and other contaminants. Thank you for reading this article!

Written By

Hi there! My name is Matt and I write for Expert Home Report. I enjoy writing about everything related to home improvement, home tips and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.