Feb 23, 2022

Vents and Ducts Clean Out – Why, When & How

vents and ducts

The vents and ducts in your home aren’t something you think about often.  Unless there’s a problem, you generally won’t notice them on a daily basis. General maintenance and a good understanding of how the vents and ducts work will save your home from potential disaster and can help save you money in the long run.

Why is vent and duct clean out so important?

All of the air in your home is constantly being circulated through the ducts and pushed out through the vents. You have several vents throughout your home,  so why is this important?

  • The air you breathe – The air that’s circulated through your vent and ducts is the same air that you and your family are breathing. You want healthy, clean air inside your home. When you clean your vent and ducts, you are eliminating pet hair, dust, dander, and other contaminants from your home’s air. All these things are being sucked into your HVAC system and re-circulated many times a day.
    That means over time, those irritants will collect and build up in your ducts. Eventually, when air is pushed out through that build-up, the contaminants are picked up and pushed out the vents into your home. Keep the ducts cleaned and filters changed regularly to avoid respiratory issues.
  • Saving money – The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 25-60 percent of the energy used for the HVAC in your home is wasted. That’s substantial, especially for budget-conscious families. Leaks in the ducts, and irritants & contaminants that build up force your HVAC to work harder to get air to you.
    When HVAC ducts clog, it can freeze the evaporator coils. This limits the cool air going into your home and can damage your HVAC. Not only is energy wasted, but you’ll also need to replace your system sooner, and that can be expensive.
  • Furnace failure – Clogged air filters can shut down your system, forcing you to either spend on costly repairs or replace it completely.  If the air blower tries to force air out of a clogged vent, the air cannot be released. This causes the heat exchanger to work overtime, and eventually overheat.
  • Poor heating & cooling – If the filters, ducts or vents are clogged, the warm or cool air you need cannot get to you. This will lead to cold or hot spots and inadequate temperatures in your home.  When temperatures aren’t properly indicated on the thermostat, it’s time to clean the filters, ducts, and vents. By doing this right away, larger issues will be kept at bay.

When is vent and duct cleaning needed?

Homeowners should schedule reminders of home maintenance required each year. This will help keep you on track with chores and allow you to reference the last time maintenance was performed.

In general, clean the ducts in your home every two to five years. If you have allergies, pets or leave your doors open often, you’ll want to clean them more frequently.  Air filters should be changed every 90 days for the average home. Homes with pets should change every 30-60 days.

Beyond your scheduled maintenance, there are times you will need to have the filters cleaned. If you notice these things, you’ll need to schedule a cleaning:

  • electricity bill spike
  • signs of rodent or insect infestation
  • excessive dirt around your vents
  • sudden, unexplained breathing issues
  • mold growth

How to clean out vents & ducts

Here’s how to easily clean your vents and ducts, for routine maintenance:

  1. Safety first! Turn off the power that’s connected to your HVAC system. If your unit itself doesn’t have a disconnect, flip the breaker for the HVAC.
  2. Remove the vent covers by unscrewing them slowly.  If you’re unscrewing one from the ceiling, be sure to wear protective glasses or cover your head. Cleaning means there will be dust falling, so be cautious.
  3. Using soap and warm water, clean the vents.
  4. Sweep and vacuum the ducts as well as you can with the longest handle possible.  Heavy-duty vacuums that can be rented are your best bet, as a household vacuum won’t get them as clean.  
  5. Screw the vents back on.
  6. Turn the power back on.

Now that you understand the purpose of the vents and ducts in your home, you can appreciate the need for them to be cleaned and maintained regularly. Help prevent illness, damage, and costly replacements by sticking to a maintenance schedule that will work for you.