Skip to content

Air Duct Cleaning—Is it Worth the Cost?

Over time, air ducts become clogged with dirt, debris, dust, pet dander, and even mold. You’ve probably seen ads that promise great benefits from cleaning air ducts regularly. And now you’re wondering if you should get your ducts cleaned, too.

While dirty air ducts might make you uncomfortable, there’s oftentimes no big reason for you to get them cleaned.

In truth, most of the potential health benefits or lower energy consumption promised to come with cleaning your air ducts aren’t true. The information has been exaggerated. 

In this piece, we run the rule on everything involving duct cleaning, the costs, and the right time to do it. We also consider the upsides and potential downsides of having your air ducts cleaned often. Let’s help you decide if you really need your air ducts cleaned.

Does Air Duct Cleaning Prevent Health Problems?

According to the EPA, duct cleaning has never been shown to prevent health problems. This is because whatever dust build-up occurs in the duct, stays in the duct. It adheres to the duct surface and hardly comes out to float through your home. 

The only time for real concern is if there is a massive dust build-up, or you notice mold, rodent feces, pet dander, etc., in the ducts. 

Molds might affect the health of sensitive individuals in the home as their spores get into the air and may cause sickness. If molds are observed, merely cleaning the duct might not be enough. For people with asthma or allergies, dirty ducts may quickly cause severe irritation. If someone in your home has asthma or allergies, you should consider improving the indoor air quality circulation by getting your air ducts cleaned.

Also, regularly changing your air filter helps to prevent dust particles from entering the ducts, or getting into your home. So, be sure it’s not just a new air filter you need before you decide on cleaning your air ducts.

Does Air Duct Cleaning Improve Energy Efficiency?

As discussed with health problems, there’s no substantial evidence that cleaner air ducts save energy consumption in the house. Although the US Department of Energy states that 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted, the chances that this waste is caused by dirty ducts are very slim. The energy wastes are mostly attributed to poor insulation, leaks, and lousy equipment. 

So, while it sounds perfectly logical to imagine that a buildup of dust in the ducts could impact the smooth functioning of your HVAC system, there’s no significant proof that this energy save up is worth the cost of cleaning your ducts.

When Should You Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned?

Now that we’ve established that you do not need to clean your ducts as much as you think you do, let’s see when duct cleaning is actually necessary.

Generally, the EPA suggests that you consider cleaning your home if;

  •  There is substantial visible mold growth. You have to remember though, that molds begin with a moisture problem, thus, getting rid of the mold without seeking out the source of the moisture is somewhat counterproductive. Quite usually, the water leaks occur from the evaporator coils or leaky return ducts, so ensure the service cleaners check through the entire system for leaks. You should also be entirely sure that what you noticed is in actuality mold, so money doesn’t end up being wasted.
  • The ducts are infested with rodents or insects. Although not too often, dirty air ducts may arise as a result of vermin taking over the ductwork with their droppings, fur, and dander. Even worse, they might get stuck and die inside, causing bad odors coming through the vents. This would be a good time to call for your air duct cleaning.
  • The ducts are excessively filled with debris or dust, so much so that you observe particles coming into your home through the vents. This might be a result of a buildup over the years, or perhaps a general home cleaning that causes dust to settle in the ducts.

Many people choose to clean their air ducts because of awful smells coming from their air vents. If these smells make you uncomfortable, you might begin to consider cleaning your ducts.

Also, if you have anyone who is very sensitive to dust or allergens, it might be good to consider air duct cleaning to ensure proper airflow and good indoor air quality in the home.

dirty air filter compared to clean air filter

How Often Should You Clean Your Air Ducts?

Generally, it is recommended that you clean your air ducts every 2-7 years. This timeline would of course depend on how seriously dirty they are, the presence of harmful molds or rodents, or how sensitive the house occupants are to the airflow in the home.

The average amount to get your ducts cleaned is about $400. This price varies according to a number of factors. In other words, you don’t want to clean your ducts too often unless it’s entirely necessary.

Factors Considered in Pricing for Air Duct Cleaning

Many people think about the cost of air duct cleaning before deciding whether to do it. The price varies depending on if you’re in a single-family home, townhouse, or condo. Other factors include how much of the home’s heating, air conditioning, and cooling system needs to be cleaned, and where you live. Here are some of the most important factors…

Size of the house

It goes without saying that the bigger your house, the more you pay to have your air ducts cleaned. Apart from having a larger size to deal with, some operators might choose to charge by the hour, or by the square foot, which means you pay more for a larger house. In the end, you might end up paying as much as $1000 to get your ducts cleaned.

Number of vents and accessibility

Many operators charge for cleaning per number of vents. In that case, the number of vents in your HVAC system has a direct bearing on how much you get charged for your air duct cleaning. Also, some air ducts have very complex and intricate ductwork that makes it difficult to access most parts for cleaning. A cleaning service company would definitely want to charge you higher for that.

The presence of vermin

The presence of rodents and insects in the air ducts is most likely going to cause a bump in the cleaning prices. In very serious cases, you might first require the services of an exterminator to handle the infestation before you seek the services of an air duct cleaning company.

Verified mold growth

If there is mold growth in your air ducts, then the cost of cleaning may be higher. In worst-case scenarios, your cleaning service providers may refer you to mold specialists to have the mold removed first. Also, remember that tackling the source of the moisture first is even more important than removing the mold, to prevent a reoccurrence. 

Geographic location

Air duct cleaning prices also seem to vary with the state or region where you’re living. You should run a check online to know the average prices for your area

What to Look Out for if You Decide to Get an Air Duct Cleaning Service

While it is hard to tell how much duct cleaning will cost, the equipment needed is expensive and requires a company that has experience with effective cleaning techniques. The EPA says you’ll have to hire an experienced contractor who uses professional-grade cleaning equipment, not a residential vacuum designed to clean carpets.

The air duct cleaning company you end up hiring should spend considerable time inspecting all system parts before cleaning them. Be wary of companies that offer prices that come with a significant discount, as they may not complete the job or do it right. 

Also, whatever the method used, ensure all the dust and debris cleaned is collected outside the house, not inside.

You don’t want to experience more problems as a result of so much dust being accumulated inside the house. When the service company arrives, you should expect a thorough cleaning of the ductwork, all your floor and ceiling registers, the evaporator and condenser coils, and some serious vent cleaning. 

Cleaning experts use standard and very sensitive equipment to carry out the work to ensure no damage is done to the flex duct or any other component of your HVAC system. Thus, one of the questions you should consider asking air duct cleaning professionals is about the specialized equipment they use in their work. You should also ask questions about their licensing, time budget for carrying out the job, and guidelines followed during the cleaning process. This ensures everyone is on the same page and there is no miscommunication.

Only professionals should be hired to inspect and clean your air ducts. If you’ve decided on this, then you must ensure the entire process is done right.

Book your air duct inspection and cleaning now.

Finally, air duct cleaning potentially provides a variety of benefits to your home, from improving the indoor air quality to reducing allergens and dust in the air. While it may seem that professional air duct cleaning is an unnecessary luxury, it could save you time and money long-term if it prevents serious home issues in the future. As with any major project, there are a variety of factors involved in air duct cleaning, including the state of your air ducts and your budget for the service.

Don’t pay too much for a job that doesn’t do enough for your home, but don’t discount hiring a professional altogether either. Your home will benefit from a clean ventilation system, no matter what.