Have you ever gotten a flyer in the mail from a company offering a great deal on cleaning your home’s air ducts? Maybe it featured some impressive looking before and after pictures of an air duct filled with dust, debris, and who knows what else next to a nice, clean air duct and it got you thinking about what might be lurking in your home’s air ducts. But is air duct cleaning something that absolutely needs to become part of your home’s routine maintenance?
First of all, know that home air duct cleaning scams are very common. Avoid any company who sends you coupons or a flyer promoting extremely low prices, $100 or less, for air duct cleaning. In many cases, these companies will come out, do a very minimal job and try to upsell you on more expensive services or use scare tactics to make you think there are big, expensive problems like mold to deal with. Even worse, these workers might be very inexperienced duct cleaners who could potentially damage your HVAC system. A legitimate air duct cleaning typically takes several hours to complete and will typically cost a few hundred dollars. Be aware that although it is possible for mold to grow in an air duct, it actually isn’t very common. So if an air duct cleaner says they found mold, you might want to get a second opinion from a mold tester.
To find a reputable air duct cleaner, look for someone who is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Be sure to find out whether or not the cleaner is bonded and insured.
Also be wary of any company that makes big promises about air duct cleaning having health benefits. Although many people will swear up and down that their allergies improved after having their home’s air ducts cleaned or that other health problems cleared up afterward, it’s important to remember that these testimonials are purely anecdotal. Currently, there isn’t any scientific evidence to definitively prove that air duct cleaning offers any health benefits. The people who swear by air duct cleaning may simply be more sensitive to dust and other allergens, so it’s possible they may see stronger results than you do.
But just because there isn’t any hard proof linking air duct cleaning to better health doesn’t mean air duct cleaning is a complete waste of time or money. Having your air ducts cleaned can help your HVAC system run more efficiently. When your air ducts and other parts of your HVAC system get blocked by debris, your HVAC system has to work harder to do its job, which can help drive up your energy bills.
If you want to figure out if you might benefit from air duct cleaning, take a look at a heating vent or register in your house. Remove the cover and try taking a picture inside with the flash on your camera on and see what it looks like. (Just be careful not to drop your camera down the air duct!) You might see some debris fairly close to the register that could be cleaned up pretty easily with a vacuum cleaner. But if the debris goes back further than you can reach with your vacuum cleaner, you might want to look into having your ducts professionally cleaned. It’s also good to have them cleaned if you see signs of mold or rodents.