Cleaning ThingsHome & Garden

How (And Why) To Clean The Air Ducts In Your Home

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By Curtis

Have you noticed a collection of lint and/or dark spots building up around the edges of your carpeting?

That’s an indication that your forced air furnace is acting as a recirculation system for the dust that’s contained within the ductwork of your home.

Perimeter buildup on the floor and ceiling corners — especially around your floor registers — is a good indication that it may be time to get your ductwork cleaned!



Here’s what you need to know…


Let A Pro Do It

Cleaning your air ducts is a job best left to the professionals.

It requires specialized equipment — such as video equipment, high powered truck mounted vacuum equipment, and various ways to agitate or break up the dust and dirt that’s contained in your ductwork.

Hiring a contractor who’s equipped with multiple methods of addressing the issue will ensure that you get a quality cleaning.

This is a job you want done right the first time.

In fact, dust is only part of the issue. With a heavy buildup, mold can also occur.

This isn’t an operation you want to try yourself or take shortcuts with.

To eliminate health hazards, your whole heating system — from blower motor to register outlet — needs to be cleaned thoroughly. A half-hearted approach could actually cause more harm than good, because it would simply infuse more dust and dirt into your air further aggravating any existing health issues.

The cost of cleaning the air ducts in a 2,000-square-foot home is around $400.

Here’s a step by step video of the process that’s involved with cleaning your air ducts and the specialized equipment involved:



When To Clean Your Air Ducts

So, how often should the ducts in your home be cleaned?

Ductwork cleaning doesn’t need to be part of your yearly furnace tune-up procedure. In many cases, people have gone for decades without ever having a problem with excessive dust.

There are only a handful of scenarios that dictate when you need to have your air ducts cleaned:

  • If your home was built recently or is in a neighborhood with a lot of new home construction
  • If you recently remodeled one or more rooms in your home
  • If there’s someone in your family who’s highly sensitive to dust
  • If you have a lot of pets (pet dander, food, and fur can accumulate in the ductwork)
  • If you burn a lot of candles and the soot has started to build up inside your home
  • If you’ve seen signs of pest and rodent infestation


I was surprised to find the interior of my desktop computer absolutely coated with thick pasty white film and goo after doing a bathroom remodel one time. The computer was 2 rooms away, yet it managed to suck in the dusty mess through its cooling fan.

Now, imagine how your lungs handle this material floating through the air after your furnace has picked it up and loaded it into your duct work!


NOTE:  If you live in an older home that was constructed on a slab, then you may have more to worry about. Clay tile was commonly used in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s — installed under the poured slab as furnace ductwork. This video shows how settling damage, mold, and water infiltration can cause serious problems:



Cleaning Air Ducts For Health Reasons

The best approach is this: if you think that dust might be creating a health issue for you, first confirm with your doctor that the dust is the culprit.

Then, have your ductwork inspected to see if the buildup is significant enough to be a problem. (They can do an indoor air quality test for you.)

Keep in mind, the act of having your air ducts cleaned could actually set off an asthma or allergy reaction — because you’re stirring up all of that old dust. (That’s why it’s best to hire a professional who has right equipment to keep the job from being messy.)


A thorough duct cleaning done by a professional duct cleaner will remove dust and debris-pet hair, paper clips, children’s toys and whatever else might collect down there. Ideally, the inside surface will be shiny and bright after cleaning. Duct cleaning may be justifiable to you personally for that very reason: you may not want to have your house air circulated through a duct passage that is not as clean as the rest of the house. However, duct cleaning will not usually change the quality of the air you breathe, nor will it significantly affect airflows or heating costs. Source