How to Clean HVAC Ducts Like an Expert

HVAC systems have become a daily household tech that people heavily rely on to stay comfortable throughout different weathers. However, with increased usage comes dust, dirt, and allergens that can pile up in your ductwork, potentially affecting indoor air quality. That’s why it’s crucial to have your HVAC ducts cleaned regularly. And the best thing you can do to ensure that you are doing it right is to hire an expert.

Nonetheless, if you still want to try cleaning your HVAC ducts, this article is for you. In this guide, experts from River Valley have come up with some of the top tips and tricks for cleaning HVAC ducts like a professional, ensuring you can breathe easily and enjoy a healthy, comfortable living environment. 

What are HVAC ducts, and how do they work?

Before knowing how to clean HVAC ducts, it’s essential to understand the basics of your HVAC system. Your HVAC system is a complex network of ducts, vents, and filters that work together to keep your home ambiance comfortable.

The magic of HVAC ducts lies in their ability to transport comfort to every nook and cranny of your home. These interconnected channels are like veins in the human body, transporting heated or cooled air to every room or zone, ensuring a cozy and comfortable indoor environment, no matter the weather outside. Here’s how HVAC ducts work.

  • An HVAC system’s air handling unit (AHU) pulls in air from outside and filters it to remove impurities such as dust, pollens, and other contaminants. 
  • The AHU then heats or cools the air to the desired temperature and humidity level. 
  • Next, the conditioned air is pushed through the ducts, which comprise a network of metal or flexible tubing running through walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • The conditioned air is then distributed to different building areas through vents or grilles in the ceiling or walls. 
  • As the conditioned air enters the room, it mixes with the room air to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the space. 
  • Return ducts then carry the air back to the AHU, where it is filtered and conditioned again. 

What is the recommended frequency for cleaning ductwork?

The frequency at which ductwork needs to be cleaned depends on factors, such as the building type and age, the location, and usage level. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends cleaning the ductwork every 3-5 years, but this can vary based on individual circumstances. 

For example, if someone in your household suffers from allergies or respiratory problems or has pets, consider having your ducts cleaned more frequently. In addition, if you have recently completed a renovation or construction project in your home or office, it is recommended to have your ducts cleaned to remove any debris or dust that may have accumulated during the process.

It is also pertinent to mention that duct cleaning is not always necessary. If your ducts are properly installed and maintained, they may not require cleaning as frequently. Regular maintenance, such as changing air filters and keeping the ducts free of debris, can help keep your ducts clean and functioning correctly.

Signs that your HVAC ducts need cleaning

The first step in cleaning your HVAC ducts like an expert is recognizing when they need cleaning. Here are some signs that your ducts may be due for a cleaning:

1. Dust and debris around vents

If you notice dust and debris surrounding your vents, your ducts are cycling dust and grime throughout your home. It is especially evident if you clean your home on a regular basis yet still have to dust.

2. Poor airflow

If your HVAC system isn’t producing the airflow you’re used to, a buildup of debris in your ducts might be the cause. Restricted ventilation in your house might make it unpleasant and raise energy expenses.

3. Unpleasant odors

If you notice unpleasant odors coming from your vents, it’s a sign that mold or mildew may grow in your ducts. It can be a severe health hazard and should be addressed immediately.

Tools and equipment needed for HVAC duct cleaning

Now that you know when it’s time to clean your HVAC ducts, having the right tools and equipment is essential. Here are some of the items you probably need to clean your ducts like a pro:

  • A vacuum cleaner with a long hose attachment
  • A brush or soft cloth for cleaning grates and registers
  • Ductwork cleaning tools, such as a duct brush or air whip
  • A screwdriver or other tools for removing vent covers
  • A dust mask and safety goggles to protect yourself from dust and debris

You may also need additional tools, depending on the size and layout of your HVAC system.

Step-by-step process on how to clean HVAC ducts Like a pro

Cleaning HVAC ducts can be a rigorous task, but with the right tools and techniques, you can do it like an expert. Here is a step-by-step process on how to clean HVAC ducts:

1. Turn off the power

The first and most crucial step is to turn off the power of your HVAC system from the circuit breaker or by thermostat before starting the cleaning process. Cleaning the HVAC ducts while the system is still on can lead to accidents. Turning off the power also ensures you can safely work on the system without risk.

2. Gather necessary tools and equipment

You’ll need some tools and equipment to clean the HVAC ducts effectively. These include a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment, a soft-bristled brush, a screwdriver, a flashlight, and protective gear like gloves, goggles, and a mask. Before you begin the cleaning procedure, ensure you have everything you need.

3. Inspect the ducts

Just like a professional HVAC expert, inspecting the ductwork for any signs of damage, such as holes or cracks, is vital. If you find any damage, make sure you repair it before cleaning the ducts. If you have no idea how to repair it, it is best to contact a professional HVAC to fix the issue. 

4. Remove and clean the air registers

The air registers are the grills or vents on the walls or ceilings that pass air from the HVAC system throughout your house. To clean the HVAC ducts, you need to remove the air registers using a screwdriver. 

After removing the air registers, carefully clean them with a soft-bristled brush and a vacuum cleaner. It will clear away any dust and dirt built on them. While removing and cleaning the air registers, you must be careful to avoid damaging them.

5. Vacuum the ducts

Then to clean the ducts, insert the vacuum hose into the ducts and clean them thoroughly. Move the hose back and forth to dislodge any debris that may have gathered inside. Use the soft-bristled brush to loosen any stubborn dirt or debris.

6. Clean the blower compartment

Once you finish the duct cleaning, remove the blower compartment door and clean it thoroughly. It will ensure that no debris or dust may cause issues with the HVAC system.

7. Check the air filters

Check the air filters in the HVAC system. If your air filter is clogged and not working properly, it is best to replace it with a new one. It will help to keep the air in your home clean and fresh.

8. Seal the ducts 

Duct leaks can result in significant energy loss, which can impact your utility bills and reduce the overall comfort of your home. Use duct sealant to seal any leaks or cracks in the ducts. It will prevent air from escaping and improve the efficiency of your HVAC system.

9. Reassemble the covers

After cleaning and sealing the ducts, it’s essential to reassemble the covers and screws to protect the ductwork from any external elements that can lead to further damage. Ensure the covers are properly aligned with the ductwork to prevent air leaks.

10. Turn on the power

Finally, turn on the power to the HVAC system from the circuit breaker or by using the thermostat. It will allow you to test the system and ensure it works correctly. It’s recommended to run the system for a few hours to confirm no air leaks or unusual noises. 

If you notice any issues, it’s best to contact a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and resolve the problem.

Following the steps outlined above, you can clean your HVAC ducts like an expert and ensure that your home’s air quality is at its best. However, if you are uncomfortable performing this task yourself, it is always best to call a professional to do it for you.

Hiring a professional for HVAC duct cleaning

While cleaning your HVAC ducts yourself can be a great way to save money, there are times when it’s best to connect a reputable HVAC professional like River Valley. Below are some of the scenarios where you may want to consider calling the experts for help:

1. Mold or mildew developing in your ducts

If you think mold or mildew is developing in your ducts, you should get it professionally cleaned. It can pose a major health risk and requires specific equipment and knowledge to remove properly.

2. You have a large home with many ducts

If you have a large home with many ducts, it can be challenging to clean them all yourself. In this case, hiring a professional River Valley HVAC team who can clean your ducts quickly and effectively may be more efficient.

3. You have a busy schedule

Cleaning your HVAC ducts can be time-consuming and may not be feasible if you have a busy schedule. In this case, hiring a professional can save you time and hassle.