How Should A/C Ducts Be Cleaned?

May 19, 2013
Ross and Witmer

Your A/C ducts do the hard work of delivering cooled and heated air to the various rooms in your home day in an day out. Most of the time, you probably don’t give those A/C ducts much thought. But if anyone in your home has developed a respiratory issue, you might be wondering what’s inside those ducts and whether you should get them cleaned.

Whether you should have your A/C ducts cleaned isn’t a question with an automatic “yes” or “no” answer. Many duct systems do an efficient job of delivering conditioned air without having much buildup inside. But like other parts of your home, they can get dirty. Sometimes critters can crawl into the ductwork and die. Insects, pet dander and other allergens can collect in ductwork. This is often the case if your ductwork has holes and loose connections allowing polluted air in unconditioned spaces to infiltrate.

Eventually, a severely compromised duct system can interfere with the breathing of family members, especially those with health conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

So should your A/C ducts be cleaned? The Environmental Protection Agency advises that you don’t need to do this routinely. But sometimes a cleaning is warranted, especially if your home is older, you smell something foul, and/or health problems are an issue.

If you don’t think you have a major problem, you might want to make cleaning the vents part of your spring and fall cleaning regimen. It’s actually fairly simple and takes only about 15 minutes per unit. Here are the five steps.

  1. Turn the A/C off.
  2. Using a vacuum with an easy-to-maneuver extension, vacuum all floor, baseboard and ceiling vents.
  3. Remove the vent covers, and wash them with dish soap. Use a sponge or paintbrush to clean everywhere dirt may be lurking. Set the vent covers somewhere to dry.
  4. Clean inside the ducts as far as you can reach, using a crevice tool or cobweb duster.
  5. When the vents are dry, put them back on.

If, indeed, you know that your ducts need more than what you can do yourself, make sure you hire the right professionals for the job. Unfortunately, there are untrustworthy duct cleaners out there. Choose HVAC professionals who have longstanding roots in the community and the expertise to get the job done efficiently and thoroughly. If you know it’s time to get those A/C ducts cleaned, contact Ross and Witmer. We’ve been making indoor environments for Charlotte-area homeowners more comfortable since 1945.

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