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How Do I Know if My Air Ducts Need to Be Cleaned

image representing How Do I Know if My Air Ducts Need to Be Cleaned

How Do I Know if My Air Ducts Need to Be Cleaned

Both homeowners and property managers know that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems require frequent maintenance to keep working at peak efficiency—especially during summer heat waves. However, many people forget about air ducts when addressing HVAC maintenance issues.

What Are Air Ducts?

Air ducts are an integral part of the HVAC system, carrying cool air from the air handler to the exhaust ports in the home and extracting hot air from the intakes throughout the house.

When these ducts form leaks, the efficiency of the HVAC system suffers. Contaminants in an air duct can also affect HVAC system efficiency as well as indoor air quality (IAQ), and may necessitate the need for air duct cleaning.

One question that many homeowners have is: “Is air duct cleaning a waste of money, or is it something I should be doing regularly?” The answer is that air duct cleaning isn’t typically a necessity. As pointed out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “There is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to your health.”

However, there are some situations where cleaning vents in the home may be necessary.

How Do I Know if My Air Ducts Need to Be Cleaned?

How can you tell if your air ducts need cleaning? Here are some common air conditioning problems and warning signs that your HVAC system’s air ducts need to be cleaned.

  • Musty or Unusual Odors in the Home. If musty odors permeate the house that are especially noticeable immediately after entering, there may be mold problems in the home. If in the air ducts, these unusual odors may be distributed throughout the entire building, making them hard to pin down. So, strong musty odors may warrant a closer inspection of your air ducts. Localized odors, on the other hand, may indicate mold growth in a specific area of the building.
  • Visible Mold Growth in Air Ducts or on Duct Covers. One obvious sign that air ducts need cleaning (and sterilization) is if mold starts to grow on the inside of the duct or on your duct covers. This is an HVAC maintenance issue that demands near-immediate attention, as mold spores released through the ventilation ducts can cause health problems.
  • Rodents or Insects Crawling in and out of Air Ducts. If pests are spotted crawling into or out of air ducts in your home, odds are that they have a nest or food source somewhere in there. In either case, this is a situation that calls for an exterminator and a thorough air duct cleaning. This may call for an expert HVAC maintenance expert, as the nest or food source is likely to be in a part of the air duct that isn’t easy to access without the right tools. Additionally, pests such as rats can chew through the thin aluminum used in many air ducts, causing damage and reducing HVAC system efficiency. So, pest infestations should be dealt with as soon as possible to limit damage.
  • Dirt/Dust Discharge from Vents. If there is visible discharge coming from air duct vents in your home, that’s a pretty clear sign that there is excessive buildup of contaminants. In such cases, cleaning vents and air ducts should be a priority to improve indoor air quality for the home.

Once again, air duct cleaning is not something that usually needs to be done on a set schedule. Rather, cleaning vents and air ducts for your HVAC system should be done on an “as-needed” basis based on the warning signs above.

Related: The Only A/C Maintenance Checklist You'll Ever Need

How to Find HVAC Maintenance Services

Cleaning vents and the space just behind them is pretty easy. However, getting a thorough air duct cleaning may require specialist tools and skills to avoid damaging the air duct. So, many homeowners choose to use HVAC maintenance services rather than trying to make repairs themselves.

However, simply typing “HVAC repair near me” into a search engine and sorting through hundreds of maintenance techs to find one with the time, skills, and tools to do the work for a reasonable rate can take hours. Rather than wasting time on the phone with dozens of HVAC maintenance companies trying to negotiate rates and appointment times, you can simplify your search by using HOMEE On Demand.

Through the HOMEE On Demand app, you get access to a network of thousands of home service pros ready to work in as little as 30 minutes. Simply write a short description of the work you want done, take a few photos of the trouble area with your smartphone, and upload the request to our network— we’ll take care of the rest.

Have questions about how HOMEE On Demand? Reach out to our team today.

We'll find you the right pro, right away