Contractor preparing to clean air ducts

Air duct cleaning: what you should know

Clean air ducts can improve the efficiency and air quality of your home, know when you should get them cleaned.

To clean your ducts, or not to clean your ducts? That is the question. When it comes to your home’s air duct system it may be difficult to know when and if it requires cleaning. Learn when cleaning is required, and how it can benefit your home in the long run.


What is air duct cleaning?

As the name suggests, air duct cleaning is the process of cleaning the ducts that help circulate warm and cool air around your home. But, it can also include the cleaning of other components of your home’s heating and cooling system, including your furnace fan, coils, heat exchangers and much more.


Should I have my ducts cleaned?

If you’ve been approached by a service provider to have your home’s air ducts or heating and cooling system cleaned, it’s important to know when duct cleaning is needed. Here are four reasons why you may consider moving forward with cleaning:

  1. Critters: Creatures like rodents, insects or birds sometimes like to call air ducts home. If animals or insects have been found in your duct system, it’s important to have them safely removed and clean any debris they leave behind. 

  2. New home or renovation: Have you just moved into a newly built home or finished a large renovation? Debris from the build or renovation may have settled in your air duct system and require removal.

  3. Dust: Found in all homes and duct systems, dust is a common home allergen. If your system has large amounts of dust, it should be properly cleaned and cleared. 


If you notice dust collecting on your home’s vents it’s not necessarily an indication that your ducts need to be cleaned. However, it could be a sign that your furnace’s filter is not doing its job, or that it is lacking a filter. Make sure to replace your furnace filter every three months to decrease dust and increase efficiency. 

  1. Mould: Mould growth can occur in the components of your heating and cooling and air duct system. If you notice signs of mould, such as a musty odor your system may require more than cleaning to resolve the issue. In some cases, the contaminated area may need to be replaced. If you have a suspicion that there may be mould in your system, contact your HVAC contractor.

How do I know my ducts require cleaning?

It’s difficult to know for sure whether your ducts require cleaning without a proper inspection, but there are a few environmental indicators that can help you identify if an inspection is needed. First, consider if anyone in your home suffers from indoor allergies, unexplained symptoms or illness. If they do, this could be a sign that there is an irritant or allergen in the duct system. Decreased comfort can also be an indicator, as air flow can be affected by a blockage in the vents. Do a quick visual inspection of the air vents or registers for large deposits of dust or a musty odor.


Before booking an appointment with a duct cleaning service provider ask for a recommendation from your trusted HVAC contractor. If you have a feeling you might need a cleaning, they can provide you with a recommendation on what the best step forward is.

What are the benefits?

While cleaning your ducts will not (sadly) remove dusting from your chores list, it does offer a few benefits that you’ll be sure to notice.

  • Increased efficiency: That’s right, having your ducts cleared of any debris can help your entire system work more efficiently. Clean ducts mean that your furnace or air conditioner don’t need to work as hard to circulate air in your home. Plus, if you have your furnace cleaned alongside your ducts, it will help to improve its efficiency as well. 
  • Cleaner indoor air: Removing excessive amount of dust, debris or mold from your air duct system can lead to increased air quality in your home, which may reduce airborne allergies or irritants for you and your family. 

How can I select a service provider?

Finding the right provider is important. Make sure to thoroughly search for a company that comes highly recommended and can provide customer references. And don’t be afraid to shop around! Ask for quotes from various companies and check in with your friends and family to see if they have anyone they could recommend. Similarly, you can ask your trusted HVAC contractor, they may have recommendations for trusted service providers. When looking for the right company keep these tips in mind: 

  • Ask for evidence and interview potential providers. When a company you’re considering visits your home, ask them to show you evidence that your system requires cleaning, and ask a few questions to ensure they are experienced in duct cleaning and have experience on systems like yours. 

  • Don’t allow the use of chemicals. Some companies may want to use chemical treatments to clean your system, do not allow these treatments unless you fully understand the pros and cons. 

  • Be cautious of companies who make sweeping claims. Some service providers will make claims of the unproven health benefits of duct cleaning or will recommend duct cleaning as a routine part of your heating and cooling maintenance – which isn’t needed. 

Although having your air ducts cleaned is not always a necessity, it’s important to be aware of the reasons why your system may require attention down the road and the benefits that can accompany a clean system.

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