The Complete Homeowner’s Guide to Duct Cleaning

The Complete Homeowner's Guide to Duct Cleaning - Lee Company

Ever watched those thrilling scenes in Die Hard or Mission Impossible where heroes navigate through air ducts? Well, the ducts in our homes might not be as action-packed, but they play a crucial role in keeping our living spaces comfortable. Hidden behind walls or above ceilings, these sheet metal passageways carry warm or cool air from our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to every corner of the home.

Spring is the perfect time to give your ducts a good clean and set yourself up for a healthier year ahead. But before you grab the vacuum or hire a professional, there are some things you need to know about duct cleaning — from what it is and why it’s important to when and how often you should have it done. Below is Lee Company’s complete homeowner’s guide to duct cleaning.

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

If your home was built after 2000, chances are you’re one of the 91% of homeowners with a central duct system. And just like dust, debris, and clutter can accumulate in the corners of your home, they can also gather inside your ductwork. This buildup of dirt and contaminants can cause a variety of issues.

Air duct cleaning removes buildup to improve indoor air quality and the overall performance of your HVAC system. It involves using specialized equipment, like high-powered vacuums and brushes, to dislodge and suction out debris from your ducts. The process also includes cleaning other system components that contribute to air circulation, like grilles, registers, diffusers, and air handlers.

Why Duct Cleaning is Important

Would you wear the same shirt for years without washing it? Of course not! But many homeowners don’t take the same approach to their ducts. Some may not even be aware that they need cleaning in the first place. Here are the main reasons why duct cleaning is important:

Improved Indoor Air Quality

As we mentioned, dirt and contaminants can build up in your ducts over time. This build-up includes:

  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Bacteria
  • Mold spores
  • Rodent and insect droppings
  • And more

Every time you turn on the heat or AC, these particles circulate throughout your home, affecting the air you and your family breathe.

Think of a home that’s 10 or 20 years old or more — you’re breathing in all those years of accumulated debris. Duct cleaning lowers the amount of dust and allergens floating around, creating a fresher and healthier space for you and your loved ones.

If anyone in your household is particularly sensitive to allergens or has respiratory issues like asthma, duct cleaning is even more important.

Plus, removing these contaminants will reduce the need for frequent dusting and vacuuming. It can also help eliminate any unpleasant odors that might be lingering in your home. It’s the best way to get a fresh start for your indoor air quality and comfort!

Energy Savings

If you thought breathing through a mask during the pandemic was a challenge, spare a thought for your HVAC system gasping for air through debris-clogged ducts!

Financially speaking, dirty ducts mean an HVAC system that has to work harder and longer to achieve the desired results. When the flow of air is restricted, it puts more strain on your heating or cooling equipment to circulate air throughout the house. This means your energy use goes up, along with your utility bills.

With air conditioning and heating making up 46% of the average home’s energy use, keeping your ducts clean can make a massive impact on your monthly expenses!

Extended Life of HVAC System

Your HVAC system is one of the biggest investments in your home, so it makes sense to keep it in great shape for as long as possible. Regular duct cleaning can extend the life of your system by reducing strain on its components and improving overall performance.

This means fewer repairs, avoiding emergency breakdowns, and reducing your need for a new unit sooner than expected.

But remember, proper maintenance and care of your HVAC system goes beyond just duct cleaning. Make sure to regularly change air filters, schedule professional tune-ups, and address any issues as soon as they pop up.

11 Signs Your Air Ducts Are Begging for a Clean

It’s not always easy to tell what’s going on behind your walls and ceilings, but there are some signs that can indicate it’s time for a duct cleaning. Here are 11 clues that your ducts are pleading for a professional cleaning:

1. Stale or Musty Odors

If your senses pick up a stale or musty smell, it’s often the result of mold or mildew growth within the ducts. Rodents or insects nesting inside the ductwork can also cause this unpleasant odor.

2. Visible Dust and Debris at Vents

While visible debris is an obvious sign, it’s also a late-stage indicator, pointing to significant accumulation within the system. Regular cleaning will prevent debris buildup, so don’t wait until it becomes visible!

3. Allergies on the Rise

An allergy flare-up in the spring is normal, but if you’re experiencing symptoms all year round, it might be a sign of dirty ducts. Airborne allergens and particles can easily get trapped in the ductwork and circulate throughout your home.

4. Vermin and Insect Infestations

Cozy, warm ducts make the perfect hideout for rodents and insects — but they’re not good houseguests. Mouse urine and droppings are laden with harmful germs that spread Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) through the air, turning a breath of fresh air into a health hazard with risks of fever, gastrointestinal issues, muscle fatigue, and more.

And let’s not forget about cockroach allergens. When blown through your ductwork, their bodies, saliva, and droppings can aggravate asthma and trigger allergies.

5. Uneven Airflow

Do you hate when one room is freezing while another one is blazing? This problem suggests an airflow imbalance that could indicate a blockage in the ductwork. Proper airflow and temperature control are crucial for comfort and efficiency, so don’t ignore this sign.

6. Visible Mold

One of the most obvious signs that your ducts need attention is the presence of mold. Mold thrives in dark, damp environments. And, unfortunately, your ductwork often provides these exact conditions. Don’t let it get out of hand. If you don’t address mold growth as soon as possible, sneezing, coughing, and headaches are just the start of your problems…

7. Dusty Home

If you feel like your house is always dusty – no matter how much you clean – your dirty ducts might be to blame. As air circulates through your home, it also picks up dust and debris from the ductwork, blowing it into your living space. This means that regularly cleaning and vacuuming won’t be enough to combat the issue.

8. Dirty Air Filters

Dirty air filters should be cleaned or replaced every 3 months on average, depending on factors like pets, allergies, and home size. But if you notice that they’re getting dirty more quickly than usual, it could be a sign of dirty ducts.

9. Respiratory Issues

Does every season feel like flu season? If you or your family members are experiencing frequent respiratory issues throughout the year, it could be due to poor indoor air quality caused by dirty ductwork. Airborne contaminants and allergens can irritate the respiratory system, triggering coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, congestion, and other symptoms that feel like a cold or flu.

10. New or Old Construction

Did you recently finish a home renovation or move into an older house? Both new construction and old houses are prone to having dirty, contaminated ducts. Construction debris, sawdust, drywall dust, and other pollutants can easily get stuck in ductwork during the building process.

And over the years, dirt and grime accumulate in older homes that haven’t had their ducts cleaned regularly.

So if you fall into either category, consider duct cleaning to improve your indoor air quality.

11. Rising Energy Bills

As we discussed earlier, clogged air filters and ducts can decrease your HVAC system’s efficiency, leading to higher energy bills. If you notice a significant increase in your energy costs without any other changes in your home, dirty ducts could be the culprit.

Cleaning them is a much cheaper alternative to paying for higher energy bills every month or replacing your entire unit prematurely!

DIY Duct Cleaning vs. Professional Duct Cleaning Services

Many homeowners like to save money by taking on home maintenance projects themselves. DIY duct cleaning is a satisfying weekend project that can improve indoor air quality and give you a sense of accomplishment!

With a few tools and some elbow grease, you can certainly make a dent in the dust and debris that’s built up in accessible parts of your ductwork.

DIY Duct Cleaning Checklist

If you’re leaning towards DIY duct cleaning, here’s a simple checklist:

  1. Prepare Tools: Gather a vacuum with a hose, a soft-bristle brush, microfiber cloths, and protective gear like a mask, safety glasses, and gloves.
  2. Clean Covers: Remove and clean vent covers with a vacuum and microfiber cloth.
  3. Vacuum: Use the vacuum and brush to clean as far into the ducts as possible.
  4. Clean Registers: Unscrew and clean registers with a microfiber cloth before screwing them back in place.
  5. Replace Filter: Install a new HVAC air filter.
  6. Check: Reattach covers, turn on HVAC, and check for consistent airflow.

How Professionals Tackle Duct Cleaning

While DIY duct cleaning can remove surface dust, professional duct cleaning services dig much deeper. Professionals have specialized equipment that can reach far into the duct system, removing contaminants from nooks and crannies that are simply out of reach for most homeowners.

High-powered vacuums and rotary brushes do a thorough job so that your ducts aren’t just visually clean but deeply sanitized.

A qualified HVAC technician will also know to inspect for duct damage and leaks, which can impact your home’s energy efficiency and air quality.

Ultimately, investing in professional services will save you time, energy, and headaches.

Maintaining Clean Ducts for Long-Term Health

Keeping your ducts clean isn’t just a one-time affair. We recommend duct inspections and cleanings every 3 to 5 years, but this can vary based on your living situation. If you have pets, allergies, or live in a high-pollen area, you might opt for more frequent cleanings.

Between professional cleanings, there are simple steps you can take to maintain clean ducts:

  • Regularly replace your HVAC air filters every 3 months (or more often if you have pets or allergies).
  • Make sure vents are clear of furniture and rugs to promote better airflow.
  • Schedule annual tune-ups and address any repairs quickly to keep your HVAC system running at peak performance.

These efforts complement consistent duct cleaning so that your system runs efficiently and keeps your indoor air quality at its best. Together, these steps can make every breath a little easier and a lot healthier.

Myths About Duct Cleaning

Let’s clear the air about duct cleaning, shall we? When it comes to home maintenance, myths often take root alongside the facts, causing duct cleaning to be brushed off as unnecessary and costly.

Let’s debunk these myths to help you make an informed decision about your home’s indoor air quality.

“It’s Just a Waste of Money”

Investing in duct cleaning is investing in your health and the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC system.

“One and Done”

Unfortunately, duct cleaning isn’t a permanent fix. Regular maintenance is key to long-term air quality.

“DIY Is as Good as Professional”

While DIY methods are beneficial, professionals can do a more thorough job and catch any underlying issues.

“My Ducts Are New — They Don’t Need Cleaning”

Even new ducts can house construction debris. Plus, regular cleaning prevents future issues.

Don’t let these myths dissuade you from taking care of your home and your family’s health. Duct cleaning is an important part of maintaining a clean, efficient HVAC system.

Choose Lee Company for Professional Duct Cleaning Services

With spring upon us, there’s no better time to clear out the remnants of yesteryears from your ducts! Lee Company’s eight decades of home services experience uniquely qualifies us to tackle your duct cleaning needs. Our skilled technicians come equipped with advanced tools and techniques to meticulously clean, seal, and maintain your ductwork, making your home a haven of fresh air.

Don’t let another day go by, breathing in anything less than the best. Schedule your professional duct cleaning service with Lee Company today and ensure your home in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia is at its peak in air quality and HVAC performance.

Want to improve the air quality in your home?

CALL US NOW AT 615.567.1000