Cleaning Your Air Ducts: Is It Hard to Do It Yourself? A Professional's Guide

When it comes to the heart of the matter, cleaning the air ducts isn't something you can do yourself. It requires specialized tools, such as a high-powered vacuum and rotating brushes, which are not typically found in the average garage. In addition, improper cleaning work could damage ducts and cause costly repairs. At On Time Home Services, we recommend that you have your air ducts cleaned regularly by a professional HVAC technician to keep your system in the best possible condition.

However, between professional maintenance visits, you can clean them yourself. Over time, air conditioning ducts usually accumulate dust, pet hair, dirt, and pollen. Sometimes, ducts develop mold or trap larger objects, such as construction debris, vermin, or insects. Cleaning ducts on your own allows you to clean your home's air conditioning supply and return vents at a much lower cost than professional duct cleaning.

Sure, HVAC filters collect dust, but they usually don't do it in a harmful way. That's why many people believe that they don't actually need to be cleaned. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), duct cleaning has never been proven to actually prevent health problems. Studies also do not conclusively prove that particle (for example, in the case of seasonal air conditioning systems that work only at certain times of the year), clean the air ducts approximately one month before planning to reactivate the air conditioning system.

This is because the dirty, unfiltered air inside the house is being swept up the return duct on its way back to the air conditioning system. If the house smells damp when you turn on the air conditioning system or if you smell rodent droppings, clean the air ducts immediately. If you repeat this process in the months between scheduled air duct cleaning services, you can improve your home's cleanliness and indoor air quality. In air conditioning, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts, many of the contaminants are attached to the sides of the ducts or are too heavy to be expelled by air pressure alone.

The best way to thoroughly clean air ducts is with professional duct cleaners, with portable negative air machines mounted on trucks, or portable negative air machines that can create a powerful vacuum throughout the duct system. With professional duct cleaning, while contaminants are removed mechanically, negative air pressure is applied to the air ducts. The chimney head, which rotates with an electric drill, cleans most of the ducts but it cannot touch all sides of the duct nor does it move as hard as compressed air cleaners from a professional duct cleaning company. With professional duct cleaning, contaminants are removed with brushes or air whips connected to compressed air hoses, brushing them by hand or vacuuming by contact.

Along with a whip to dislodge waste, duct vacuums can remove debris found in remote areas of the duct system as well as in hard-to-reach corners and curves. Home duct cleaning differs from professional duct cleaning because these machines are not available to DIYers and it's hard to duplicate them if you do them yourself. Even if you clean the air ducts yourself, it is recommended that you hire an air conditioning technician to professionally clean your home ducts at least once a year. If you discover or suspect that there is mold, a rodent or insect infestation, or dust that enters your home through air ducts or if you're concerned about a constant flow of air from one room to another it might be worth hiring a professional to clean the ducts.

Bernadette Denton
Bernadette Denton

Friendly food aficionado. Passionate sushi specialist. General bacon junkie. Internet enthusiast. Hardcore bacon evangelist.

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