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Residential Duct Cleaning Resources


Energy bills can increase if your HVAC unit is running below its optimal efficiency. Dirty or clogged air ducts are a common cause for a malfunctioning residential heating and cooling unit. The indoor air quality department at AAA Heating & Cooling is trained and knowledgeable in residential duct cleaning, service checks, and installation. In addition, we’ve compiled some helpful information, including duct cleaning facts and frequently ask questions, that will keep your HVAC system running smoothly, save you money, and improve the air quality in your home.



Residential Duct Cleaning Facts

Properly installed residential ductwork should generate sufficient airflow for several years. However, it’s still important to have them professionally cleaned every few years to keep your HVAC system running efficiently and prevent poor indoor air quality. The following residential duct cleaning facts will give you a better idea about indoor air quality and the need for clean ductwork.

Fact: It is estimated that poor indoor air quality directly results in $1 billion in medical costs and $60 billion in employee sick leave and production loss each year.

Fact: Potentially-lethal Legionnaires’ disease is caused by bacteria spread through air ducts.

Fact: One out of six people who suffer from allergies do so because of the direct relationship between fungi and bacteria in air duct systems (via Total Health & Better Health Magazine).

Fact: People spend 60-90% of their time indoors.

Fact: Indoor air can be up to 70% more polluted than outdoor air.

Fact: Dirty ventilation systems and ductwork contribute more than 50% of contaminants to “sick building syndrome” (via Healthy Buildings International).

Fact: Leaky ducts let hot and cold air escape from your home, which wastes energy. Sealing your ductwork can reduce your utility costs, make your home more comfortable, and prevent indoor air pollution.

Fact: Residential duct cleaning can help homeowners reduce their household energy consumption by up to 30%.


Residential Duct Cleaning FAQ

Q: Are there any health benefits associated with HVAC and duct cleaning?

A: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health. Contaminants may include mold, fungi, bacteria, and very small particles of dust. Cleaning the ducts in your home is a contributing factor to healthy indoor air quality.

Q: Will HVAC system cleaning reduce our home energy bills?

A: Research by the U.S. EPA has shown that HVAC system and duct cleaning may allow heating and cooling units to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer lifespan, and typically operate more effectively than dirty systems.

Q: How should a residential HVAC system be cleaned?

A: The most effective way to clean residential air ducts and ventilation is to employ “source removal” cleaning methods. This requires a contractor to place the system under negative pressure using a specialized, powerful vacuum. While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to the interior surfaces. The debris then travels down the ducts into the vacuum which removes it from the HVAC system and the home.

Q: How often should a residential HVAC system be cleaned?

A: Residential HVAC systems and ductwork should be cleaned once every three to five years, depending on the preference and specific lifestyle of a home’s occupants.

Q: How long does residential duct cleaning typically take?

A: A variety of factors may affect the time needed to clean a residential HVAC system including the type and size of the of home, accessibility of the ductwork, and the number of workers on the project. A typical three or four bedroom home will require four to eight hours for duct cleaning.

Q: How will I know if HVAC system cleaning was effective?

A: The best way to determine if an HVAC cleaning project is effective is to perform a visual inspection before and after cleaning. If any dust or debris can be seen during the visual inspection, the system is not considered clean. While you can perform your own visual inspection using a flashlight and mirror, a professional cleaning contractor will be able better access the system components with the use of specialized inspection tools.

Q: Are truck-mounted vacuums or portable vacuums better for cleaning residential ducts?

A: NADCA does not endorse one kind of equipment over another and both types of vacuums clean to the association’s standards. Truck-mounted duct cleaning equipment is usually more powerful than a portable vacuum. However, portable equipment can be brought directly into a residence and can get closer to the ductwork. A vacuum collection device alone will not sufficiently clean an HVAC system. Professional duct cleaners use unique methods and tools designed to agitate debris that has adhered to surfaces inside an HVAC system.

Q: What are sanitizers and why are they used for residential duct cleaning?

A: Sanitizers are antimicrobial chemicals applied to the interior surface of air ducts. They are designed to control microbial contamination. Before any sanitizers are used, an HVAC system should be thoroughly cleaned. It is critical that any antimicrobial treatment used in your system is EPA-registered for the intended use in HVAC systems. Ask your air quality technician to show you the chemical’s material safety data sheet (MSDS) or consult the EPA for more information.


Certified Residential Duct Sealing

AAA Heating & Cooling is certified by PTCS (Performed Test Comfort Systems). Only PTCS-accredited HVAC companies can help you achieve the RETC (Residential Energy Tax Credit) program incentives.

If your residential HVAC unit heats or cools with a ducted system, it’s important to make sure your ducts aren’t leaking. At AAA Heating & Cooling, we are certified to seal the ducts in your home. This will save you money on utility bills and improve your indoor air quality.


To save more on your residential HVAC system:

  • Heat and cool only the areas in your home that you want to condition rather than trying to control the climate in your crawl space, attic, or basement
  • Program your heating and cooling system to run on shorter cycles
  • Close all curtains and shades on sunny days so that your unit does not need to work as hard at cooling your home


NBC Exposes Air Duct Cleaning Scam

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) participated in an undercover investigation by Chris Hansen and Dateline NBC in attempt to expose companies that use bait-and-switch tactics to take advantage of HVAC consumers.

The investigation culminated in a segment that aired January 30, 2011, featuring Buck Sheppard, NADCA’s president, as the industry expert. After witnessing one of the scam operators in action, Sheppard was taken aback. “It was amazing how unscrupulous some people can actually be,” he noted.

Part of the segment focused on a representative from a company called Duct Masters out of Hebron, Kentucky. The consumer called the company expecting the advertised duct cleaning price of $49.95 but instead ended up paying nearly $500. Even after paying the higher price, the job was not done properly. Dust and chemicals were released into their home and the system was still filthy after the Duct Master representatives were finished.

Reflecting on the news segment, Sheppard added, “I believe the Dateline piece was well-produced and highlights the need for better oversight by the individual states. For those so-called ‘duct cleaners’ who have no standards by which to measure their work, they should be aware that NADCA and its combined membership are always pushing to better educate our consumers. Through better education, consumers aren’t as likely to fall prey to these types of unscrupulous and shady practitioners, since they know how to choose a professional duct cleaning company. And that’s no BS.”

AAA Heating & Cooling has been a member of NADCA Since July 2000.
If you’re experiencing air quality or climate control issues in your NW home, give us a call at (503) 284-2173 or schedule an appointment online.