If you are wondering how often to clean air ducts, you probably suspect your home’s air is not in ideal shape; you may even be concerned about your family’s health. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it all that often to ensure the safe and proper running of your home’s heating and cooling systems in normal conditions. Scheduling an appointment every three to five years is enough to ensure your ducts aren’t actively damaging the health of those inside your home.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Angie’s List and other authorities point to only three reasons to have your air ducts cleaned more often than every three to five years:
If you see substantial, visible mold growing inside the hard surfaces (sheet metal interior) of your home’s ducts, you need them professionally cleaned.
Unpleasant as this sounds, an infestation of mice, insects or rats living in your ductwork is a health hazard; their droppings can infect family members or irritate lungs.
If ducts are clogged with dust and debris to such an extent that you see little puffs of dust come from the registers when your heat or air conditioning turns on, you need professional duct cleaning.
Please keep in mind, however, that cleaning your own ducts is generally not a good idea. Unless you are a professional in the industry, you lack the equipment, the safety training, and the skills to clean all of your household ductwork and the HVAC system that connects to it.
Return- and supply-side air ducts can be in inaccessible places in a home, so cleaning only the areas you see or can easily access accomplishes very little. Professional technicians can use vacuums and automated brush systems to move through rectangular-profile or flexible circular-profile ducts, something you should not attempt.
Since ductwork connects to your furnace and central air conditioner or heat pump, a complete HVAC system cleaning is necessary if you find that you have one of these exceptional cases. Simply cleaning the ductwork does not solve the entire problem of dust, allergens, mold and, possibly, vermin.