Most homeowners find themselves inundated with fliers and circulars in their mailbox from companies urging them to get their air ducts cleaned. They offer to do it for a bargain rate price that probably, to you, doesn’t seem like that much of a bargain. But you find yourself wondering… Are your air ducts really in bad shape? Do they need a good cleaning? Well, maybe. But it may not require the drastic cleansing job these companies insist are what you need.
You can unscrew the air intake vents from your wall and clean a little bit of the ducts yourself. You can use a home vacuum to suck out anything you can see or reach, but of course there’s a much larger area that you can’t get to. So where do you go from there? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published some documents on the cleaning of air ducts. They note that no studies have definitively demonstrated that cleaning your air ducts makes the air in your home any cleaner.
So, how to decide? Well, here’s a quick rundown of the scenarios in which having your ducts clean might be more important:
Does anyone in your household suffer from a respiratory or lung disease that can be agitated by dust or airborne particles?
Have you had recent construction in your home involving dust, fiberglass or other particles that could have been sucked into the duct system? And keep in mind, many contractors will purposely seal air intake vents in a house if they are working with something extremely dusty.
Clean your ducts if you have any sort of visible mold growth or any sort of positive testing for mold.
If you’ve not encountered any of these problems or had any work done to cause concern, you can probably skip the expensive duct cleaning job and simply do a little vacuuming inside the returns yourself. Of course, this does not preclude having your duct system inspected and tuned by a heating and cooling professional every couple of years to be sure that everything is working as it should.