Is Duct Cleaning Worth It?

Is Duct Cleaning Worth It
By | February 2, 2024
5 min read
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As homeowners or business owners, we worry a lot about the cleanliness and freshness of our homes, apartments, offices, or other business spaces. We dust, ventilate, or hire cleaning services to maintain a healthy and comfortable environment. However, sometimes we notice that dust continues to accumulate on surfaces no matter what we do, the room smells moldy, and occupants or visitors suffer from asthma or allergy symptoms while inside. We wonder what the cause is and the condition of our air ducts is not the first thing that comes to mind. There is a lot of debate about the role that regular air duct cleaning plays in ensuring and maintaining good air quality. In fact, dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of harmful particles that are present in homes. It’s also true that the ductwork system circulates air through your rooms, and if it’s infested with pests and dust mites, dirt, and mold accumulated on the walls, you’re breathing it all in every day. So is duct cleaning worth the investment? Let’s find out.

Is Air Duct Cleaning Necessary?

Air ducts run between your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units and their vents. The intake vent pulls air into your HVAC unit to be heated or cooled, and then the air is redistributed and pushed throughout your home using the ductwork. Duct cleaning involves removing dust, debris, and other potential contaminants from your home’s HVAC system. This is not just a simple vacuuming job; it’s a complex process that requires an understanding of many nuances and involves using specialized tools to clean the return, supply, and intake air ducts in your home. But is this procedure necessary and should it be done on a regular basis?

As industry experts, Green Ductors adheres to the standards and guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Our team aims to not only provide excellent service for cleaning the HVAC system, including ductwork but also to ensure that everyone is aware of when and why it is required. So, according to the EPA, cleaning air ducts isn’t always necessary and should only be done as needed, i.e. when they are contaminated. This includes the removal of accumulated particles that impede the effective operation of the HVAC system. In turn, NADCA recommends air duct cleaning as part of an overall HVAC system cleaning, as it comes into contact with the air that moves through the ducts. Overall HVAC maintenance entails the cleaning/replacement of air filters, cleaning of the diffusers and grilles, inspection of the drain lines and drain pans for proper drainage, examination of the heat exchanger and cooling coils, as well as furnace air plenum, grills, and blower motor.

When Air Duct Cleaning Is Necessary

There are several situations when air duct cleaning is really worth it:

  1. Visible mold growth inside hard-surface ductwork or on other components of your HVAC system.
  2. Excessive clogging of the ductwork with dust and debris, or particles of various contaminants entering the room from the supply registers.
  3. If you have carried out renovation or construction work that may have caused large amounts of dust and debris.
  4. Signs of animal infestation or nesting in the ductwork or HVAC system. (Pests such as rodents or insects infesting the ducts.)
  5. You smell a strange odor.
  6. If someone in your family suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses.

Green Ductors can help you determine if you need air duct cleaning and provide the necessary services to improve the air quality in your home.

Is It Worth Cleaning Air Ducts Yourself?

One of the reasons the EPA discourages routine air duct cleaning is that improperly cleaned air ducts can make indoor air quality worse rather than better. Using low-quality methods or equipment like ordinary vacuums and brushes as opposed to professional-grade tools, can release more contaminants into your home or potentially damage the ductwork and HVAC system. These incidents can lead to increased heating and cooling expenses, as well as costly repairs or replacements.

Certified technicians employ specialized equipment and tools, such as a high-end brush machine paired with a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency HEPA filter, for effective duct cleaning. They methodically work through each air duct several times, from the one farthest from the furnace, to eliminate accumulated dirt and debris. The process, when done by a trained technician, usually takes a few hours and may also include a thorough cleaning of both the furnace and the internal heat exchanger to ensure that all particulate matter is removed.

Sometimes during cleaning it is necessary to cut service holes in the ducts, which must be precisely sealed after cleaning to prevent leaks. Additionally, the vacuum system used must be powerful and equipped with proper HEPA filtration to prevent the spread of dislodged contaminants into the living or working space. Any negligence in these procedures, such as poor sealing or damaged or improperly installed HVAC components, can cause more issues than it solves. Therefore, if you decide it’s time to clean your air ducts, it’s best to leave it to the professionals so as not to cause unnecessary damage to your system.

Can Improper Cleaning Damage My Air Ductwork?

The simple answer is, yes. A big reason why you should leave your air duct cleaning to professionals is that certain types of ductwork are more prone to damage. So before embarking on any duct cleaning endeavor, it’s crucial to identify the specific type of ductwork in your system.

To be more specific, there are 3 types of air ducts:

  1. Flexible Ductwork: Consisting of a delicate plastic layer that’s wrapped around a spring and insulated to regulate thermal transmission. Flex ducts are also susceptible to heat-induced fragility over time. This makes them particularly vulnerable to damage during cleaning, especially in older systems.
  2. Aluma Flex Ductwork: Feature a sturdy corrugated interior design shielded by insulation. Aluma Flex ducts are less prone to damage during cleaning due to their less flexible and more durable construction.
  3. Rigid Ducting (Solid Sheet Metal or KD): Constructed from solid sheet metal, typically rated between 28-24 gauge, rigid ducting offers the highest integrity when correctly installed with suitable sealant and insulation. As a result, it has the least risk of damage and yields the best results when subjected to duct cleaning.

Does Cleaning Air Ducts Really Make a Difference?

We’ve determined that air duct cleaning should be done only in need. So, if this is not a regular process, is it necessary at all? Is it worth cleaning air ducts and investing in a professional service? In fact, the answer to this question lies in the benefits of expert air duct cleaning. Let’s take a closer look.

Benefits of air duct cleaning

Enhanced indoor air quality

Did you know that a typical six-room home can accumulate up to 40 pounds of dust and dirt per year just from daily living? Much of this dust accumulates in the air ducts. Air ducts are like the lungs of your home; they circulate air from your heating and cooling system to and from each room. If they contain so much dust, lint, pet dander, and other harmful particles, just imagine the horrible air quality you breathe every day and what it’s doing to your lungs! According to the EPA, the level of pollutants indoors can be up to 100 times higher than outdoors. Thorough air duct cleaning is a surefire way to reduce the amount of pollutants that negatively affect the comfort of your home or business and improve overall indoor air quality. Want to learn more? Read about it in our article “Does Duct Cleaning Improve Air Quality and Being?”.

Reduction of allergens

Poor air quality goes hand in hand with health problems. Have you stated feeling worse? Do you suffer from a runny nose and cough? Dust mites can be the most common trigger for year-round allergies and asthma. Air duct cleaning is certainly not a cure-all, but by removing harmful particles, the level of allergens and irritants circulating in the air also decreases. Especially if you’ve never had your air ducts cleaned, or have recently moved into a new home, the difference can be noticeable.

Improved system efficiency

When dust and debris build up in your air ducts, it can obstruct airflow and force your HVAC system to work harder to maintain the right temperature. Cleaning your air ducts by removing accumulated harmful pollutants allows the system’s fans to run unobstructed, which provides better airflow. This reduces the load on the system and increases its energy efficiency. This, in turn, helps save you money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. By ensuring that your air ducts are clean and working properly, you can avoid unnecessary energy costs.

Extended HVAC lifespan

Expert air duct cleaning can significantly increase the life of your HVAC system. When the system doesn’t have to push air through clogged ducts, it works at a lower load. As a result, it wears out less, reducing the frequency of breakdowns and the need for costly repairs. By investing in air duct cleaning, you can ensure that your HVAC system remains in optimal condition for a long time.

To make sure your system stays in the best shape possible, we strongly urge you to have a full cleaning service at least once during the lifetime of the system. We recommend opting for a service that comes with before and after photos so you have a baseline from which to measure your Air Quality and you can strive for the best result possible for you and your family. Learn more about other reasons why you should clean your air ducts in our recent article.

Conclusion

Is vent cleaning worth it? Our answer is yes. While air duct cleaning is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it does have significant benefits in certain circumstances. When done professionally and as needed, this process contributes to a cleaner, healthier, and more comfortable living or working environment, and helps you avoid potential problems with your system.

This is what Green Ductors strives to achieve by providing expert assistance in air duct cleaning in both residential and commercial buildings. Our team is trained and certified to use the latest equipment and techniques to ensure that your ducts are thoroughly cleaned and maintained.

Share with us your thoughts about “Is it worth it to clean air ducts?” in the comments below.

The founder, CEO, and author of articles for the Green Ductors blog. Dedicated to his work, Dmytro strives to make people more aware of the importance of maintaining the best possible air quality. By treating readers like friends, he communicates even the most complex information in an easy-to-understand way to make your reading experience not only useful but also enjoyable. Check out the articles written by the hand of our founder Dmytro.

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