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Breathe Easier: Answering FAQs About Cleaning Air Ducts and the Benefits of Improved Indoor Air Quality

Published March 25, 2024 by Tony Spezza


It’s the middle of the summer, and you’ve cranked up your AC. However, when your energy bill arrives, you’re met with surprise — it’s significantly higher than in previous years, leaving you to wonder what could be driving up the costs. 

Could it be your trusty AC struggling to keep up with the demand?

The culprit might lie within the often-overlooked realm of your HVAC system’s ductwork. In this article, we’ll delve into the ins and outs of air duct cleaning, shedding light on why it’s a crucial part of home maintenance. 

From understanding how often you should clean your ducts to the benefits of clean ductwork, we’ll equip you with the knowledge needed to make sure your HVAC system can get you through those scorching summer months.

Table of Contents

Understanding Air Duct Cleaning

Think of HVAC ductwork like the plumbing system in a house. Just as clogs and buildup in pipes can cause issues with water flow, similar blockages in ductwork can hinder airflow and lead to problems with heating, cooling, and air quality. 

First, let’s understand how the duct system works.

Air is supplied from within your home into the HVAC system through the return ducts. It is then filtered, heated, or cooled. The treated air is then distributed back to the house through the supply ducts to the rooms in your home. 

Over time, dust, dirt, pet dander, and other contaminants accumulate within the ducts, reducing airflow efficiencies and potentially impacting indoor air quality. 

AAA Heating and Cooling specializes in home air duct cleaning. Our trained service professionals utilize a hose and pipe combination connected to our Sani-Vac trucks. Using compressed air, we blow all the debris that has accumulated in your ductwork directly into our truck.

is air duct cleaning necessary

Is Air Duct Cleaning Necessary?

Absolutely! Air ducts serve as the vital pathways through which cooled or heated air travels to different rooms in your house. However, over time, these pathways can accumulate a buildup of:

  • Dirt
  • Dust
  • Pet hair
  • Pest infiltration
  • Other contaminants

It’s important to remember that the return ducts pull air from within your home that has yet to be filtered through the HVAC system, so it is essential to clean and remove this buildup.

While these contaminants can impact air quality, the biggest problem is the impact on the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Imagine your HVAC system as a runner trying to breathe through a stuffy nose. It’s much harder to breathe, so the runner has to work harder. 

Similarly, the accumulated debris forces your HVAC system to work harder, expending more energy and operating less efficiently. 

This increased workload affects not only your comfort as rooms may not feel as cool but also your wallet. A less efficient HVAC system leads to higher energy bills and potential maintenance costs.

How Often Should Air Ducts Be Cleaned?

While the general rule of thumb for cleaning air ducts is every three to five years, there are several factors specific to your home and lifestyle that you should consider.

Consider more frequent duct cleaning if:

  • Your furry pets shed or have a lot of dander
  • There are smokers in your home
  • Family members suffer from allergies or asthma

You should also consider scheduling duct cleaning after significant home renovations and before moving into a new home.

how often should air ducts be cleaned

5 Benefits of Cleaning Your Home’s Air Ducts

#1: May Increase the Efficiency of Your HVAC System

Your HVAC system is a significant investment and one that you don’t want to have to replace. Just like maintaining your car with regular oil changes, your HVAC system needs to be maintained. 

Cleaning your ductwork is part of regular preventative maintenance. When you have a lot of dirt, dust, or debris in your ducts, your HVAC system has to work harder to move air through the ducts, potentially causing more breakdowns of your HVAC. 

Ensuring clean ductwork not only improves the efficiency of your HVAC system but also contributes to its overall performance and longevity. 

Consider these key benefits of how clean ductwork results in a more efficient system:

  • Increases the lifespan of your HVAC system.
  • Reduces the likelihood of system breakdowns.
  • Improves energy efficiency leading to cost savings on your utility bill.
  • Contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing energy consumption.  

For professional duct cleaning and maintenance services, trust AAA Heating and Cooling to keep your HVAC system running efficiently. Contact us today for expert assistance in improving the longevity of your HVAC.

cleaning air ducts

#2: May Help Reduce Allergen Levels

Dust mite allergies impact over 20 million people in the United States and are one of the most common asthma triggers. While there’s no conclusive evidence that cleaning air ducts will directly reduce allergens, it’s worth considering the potential benefits.

By cleaning your air ducts, you are removing dust, dirt, and debris that can accumulate over time. Although there’s a debate over the direct impact on allergen levels, a clean duct system could contribute to reducing dust mites and other allergens. Ensuring cleaner air ducts may provide peace of mind for you and your family.

#3: May Improve Indoor Air Quality

When you’re cranking your AC system to beat the heat, you’re likely keeping all your windows and doors shut tight. While this keeps the cool air in, it also traps pollutants within your home.

Studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have shown that indoor air can be three to five times more polluted than outside air. Some potential sources of indoor pollutants include:

  • Fuel-burning appliances
  • Household cleaning products
  • Personal care products
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites
  • Mold

With professional duct cleaning, you can rest assured that your ductwork is free of debris and other pollutants that may have accumulated in your ductwork.

#4: May Reduce the Risk of Mold Growth

Mold is a homeowner’s worst enemy for many reasons. Air ducts are often overlooked, and can be a breeding ground for mold as moisture builds up in dirty ducts.

The presence of mold comes with serious health impacts, potentially leading to symptoms such as:

  • Congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Skin irritation

Recent studies have even shown a potential link between mold exposure in children and the development of asthma. 

Invest in professional duct cleaning to help reduce the risk of mold growth in your home air ducts.

#5: May Increase Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Considering that HVAC typically accounts for the highest energy use in a typical home, at a whopping 46%, ensuring your HVAC operates at peak performance and efficiency is essential. Clean ductwork plays a pivotal role in achieving this efficiency. 

Debris in ductwork causes the fans in the HVAC system to run more frequently. However, when the debris is removed, the fans can run more efficiently, circulating clean air throughout your home.  

By reducing energy consumption, you not only save money on your utility bill but also reduce your carbon footprint

how much does air duct cleaning cost

Air Duct Cleaning FAQs

Can You Clean Air Ducts by Yourself?

When considering DIY home maintenance projects, it’s crucial to weigh factors like time, cost, safety, and effectiveness. However, cleaning air ducts isn’t a task you should attempt on your own.

Accessing ductwork can be dangerous and may damage your HVAC system. Without proper equipment and expertise, DIY cleaning can lead to more problems. Leave this job to professionals who can safely and effectively clean your ducts.

How Do You Know if It’s Time for an Air Duct Cleaning?

Recognizing when it’s time for an air duct cleaning is crucial for maintaining an efficient HVAC. Remember these signs that may indicate the need for professional cleaning:

  • Your home feels uncomfortably humid in the summer or overly dry in the winter.
  • There are noticeable temperature differences between rooms.
  • Your utility bills are steadily increasing.
  • Your home accumulates excessive dust.
  • You detect odors but can’t pinpoint the source.
  • You hear or see evidence of rodents or other vermin. 
  • You see evidence of mold growing when you look at your ductwork.
  • Your family or friends with asthma or allergies experience worsening symptoms in your home. 

If you are experiencing any of these problems, contact AAA Heating and Cooling to help you identify if your ductwork just needs cleaning or if you need to replace your air ducts.

What Might Lead to Residential Air Duct Issues?

Maintaining optimal airflow and good indoor air quality relies heavily on the condition of your ducts. Several factors can contribute to air duct issues in your home:

  • Faulty connections of ducts due to improper installation.
  • Inadequate insulation requires your HVAC to work harder.
  • Physical damage such as denting in the ductwork.
  • Accumulation of debris and pollutants from uncleaned ducts.

Addressing these issues promptly through professional inspection and maintenance can help ensure your HVAC is operating at peak performance.

How Much Does Air Duct Cleaning Cost?

The cost of air duct cleaning can vary depending on several factors. The size of your home, the number of furnaces, and the number of vents all play a role in determining the overall costs. On average, air duct cleaning for most homes typically falls between $150-$790.

How To Decide Whether or Not To Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

When determining whether or not to have your air ducts cleaned, consider the signs previously mentioned. If you notice any of these indicators or it’s been more than 3-5 years since your last cleaning, it may be time to schedule a professional inspection.

At AAA Heating and Cooling, we understand the importance of making informed recommendations tailored to your specific needs. You can trust us to assess the condition of your air ducts and provide honest guidance on whether cleaning is necessary or if it can wait a year or two.

Improve the Efficiency of Your Home’s Duct System and Indoor Air Quality With AAA Heating & Cooling

AAA Heating and Cooling has been serving customers for over half a century. As a trusted family-owned company, we are dedicated to providing top-notch HVAC duct cleaning services while building long-lasting relationships with our valued customers. 

Our team consists of skilled professionals with extensive knowledge and experience. We prioritize customer satisfaction and strive to deliver high-quality service tailored to your specific needs.

With over 62 years in the industry, we have built a reputation for reliability, integrity, and excellence. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation and discover why we’re the trusted choice for HVAC services in the Portland area.

cleaning air ducts