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When Does Air Duct Cleaning Make Sense?


Dust accumulates on virtually every surface in your home. Air ducts have many hidden surfaces, so it stands to reason dust is collecting there too. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t connected light dust accumulation in HVAC ducts with health hazards. The recommendations for professional air duct cleaning aren’t the same as for annual HVAC maintenance; but in some circumstances, cleaning ductwork makes sense.

Clean Air Ducts When There Are Signs of Contamination

Dust is not a primary concern with air ducts. The EPA suggests scheduling an air duct cleaning only as needed. But what does this mean? Since effective duct cleaning requires a professional, you want to invest in this service when it makes sense. Reasons to consider hiring a duct cleaning professional include:

  • Signs of Mold: Condensation, high humidity levels, and water leakage can create conditions suited for mold growth in HVAC ducts. Signs of mold include musty odors, black dust on or around the vents or air handler (can be toxic black mold), or green, brown, or yellow patches near vents, on walls, and elsewhere in your home. Mold in air ducts can spread throughout the system and release spores in every room.
  • Signs of a Pest Infestation: Scampering or scratching noises can mean pests are in your air ducts. Foul odors may come from rodents and insects. Visible mouse or cockroach droppings, evidence of nesting, signs of chewing, and smudges and stains are also reasons to call for help. A tear or hole in a duct can allow unwanted guests in, so call a professional if you notice any damage.
  • Unexplained Symptoms/Illnesses: Many pests, including rodents and cockroaches, have compounds in their saliva and waste that can increase allergy symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. Consider scheduling an air duct cleaning if your allergies/asthma are worse at home than outside. Unexplained illnesses can also originate from contaminated ducts. If you or someone else at home gets frequent colds, coughs, sore throats, or respiratory infections, consider having your ductwork checked and cleaned.

Air ducts should also be cleaned if your home was recently renovated or remodeled. Dust and debris from the construction process can settle in ducts and recirculate in your home. And if your ductwork has holes, breaks, loose connections, tears, deteriorated tape/sealants, or other visible damage, it should be professionally repaired and cleaned.

Best Season for Air Duct Cleaning

You may have heard air ducts should be cleaned every three to five years. This is not true. If you change HVAC filters regularly, vacuum floor registers every few months, and properly seal ductwork, you should not need air duct cleaning on a routine basis. 

But if you’re considering hiring a duct cleaning service, the best times to do so are spring and fall. A spring cleaning for your air ducts removes dust that accumulated during the winter months. It can also help reduce pollen and other outdoor allergens that get inside, as well as pet dander. Cleaner ducts can help improve comfort and reduce cooling costs.

Many homeowners schedule duct cleaning in the fall because they know they’ll be indoors more in winter. Addressing dust-, dirt-, and mold-related issues now can avoid discomfort related to a variety of symptoms later. Duct cleaning can also help improve the efficiency of your heating system.

What Doesn’t Air Duct Cleaning Do?

There are times when air duct cleaning makes sense. But many people have false beliefs. For example, it will not improve airflow. If you have reduced airflow from vents or hot or cold spots around your home, the reasons can include damaged air ducts, a poor duct layout, or a mechanical issue in your HVAC system. Although duct cleaning can help with mold and odors, it will not eliminate them unless the source is properly treated and an air purification system is added or improved.

Also, cleaning HVAC ducts will not have permanent benefits unless you stick to a routine preventative maintenance schedule.

Contact Monarch Home Services

Monarch Home Services provides air duct cleaning and other indoor air quality services in Bakersfield, Visalia, and Fresno, CA. Our NATE- and EPA-certified HVAC technicians are thorough and professional. They ensure your ductwork is clean and dust-free no matter what kind of buildup they find. To schedule duct cleaning or maintenance in your San Joaquin Valley home, and receive a free quote, call (661) 215-6657 today.

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