Air Duct Cleaning

You may be considering cleaning the air ducts in your home because of a family member with allergies, asthma, or maybe the idea of clean ducts is appealing.  Businesses that offer this service will claim studies indicate that these services will result in lower utility bills and cleaner air. Read on to see whether these claims “come clean.”

What They Do

  • To clean the ductwork, the duct system undergoes negative pressure by connecting a powerful vacuum to an opening in the ductwork to suck out the loose dust and debris.
  • More than one opening into the duct may be used.
  • Along with the powerful vacuum (compressed air), additional tools may be used to loosen debris and dust.
  • A basic service is conducted with a commercial size vacuum and tools to disturb dust and particles in the duct work.
  • A comprehensive service includes cleaning the condenser coils, fan blades, fan housing, heat exchangers, etc.
  • Understand how UV light sanitizers and air purifiers work before committing to this add-on service.

When to Consider Air Duct Cleaning

  • Extensive amount of mold growth.
  • Infestation of insects or rodents.
  • Large amounts of dust or debris from a closed register or construction work.

After the Dust Settles

  • A proper and thorough duct cleansing procedure removes dust and other particles; however, if not done correctly can cause a lot more problems:
  • Vacuum pressure:
    •   Not enough pressure:  the disturbed dust and particles drift in to the living space.
    •   Too much pressure: risks breaking the seals in the duct system, which can be problematic in the return air portion.
  • Not every home has sheet-metal ductwork. Flexible coil-style ducts are thinner and can be easily damaged.
  • Fiber-glass insulated ducts are now used more often and when not cleaned properly the insulation can tear and the fibers of the insulation can become airborne.

Defore You Decide

  • Check your air filters and change or upgrade them.
  • If your home is new, check your filters monthly.
  • Clean air filters are the best way to keep dust out of your house.
  • Clean the blower fan.
  • Maintain cleaning of the key components of the heating and cooling equipment.
  • Evaporator coils in the cooling system cause condensation; condensed moisture can cause dust and other particles to stick to and build up on the coils. A clean collector pan will prevent water, which may cause mold from building onto and beneath the coils.

Choosing a Contractor

  • Search for a contractor who is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), a non-profit trade association.  Members must have employed one NADCA trained and certified technician and employ NADCA-approved methods.  More information about their members and policies are found on their website.
  • Avoid companies that advertise specials under $200 or less.  In this industry companies who advertise this price are known as “blow-and-go” because they hook up a vacuum to a part of the duct system and the results are usually poor. The low price offer may be a bait and switch tactic, such as going from a basic to comprehensive services.
  • EPA certified for duct cleaning does not exist, and if a company makes this type of claim do not do business with them.
  • Do not permit the use of chemical biocides or chemical treatments unless you fully understand the pros and cons.
  • Make sure to receive a written cost of the job to be performed to include details of what they will do, total amount of time it will take, total cost and the extent of the job before work begins.

The above information was prepared from and the federal Enviromental Protection Agency.  Each site noted gives detailed information on what you should know before you make a decision. 


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