Does cleaning air ducts really make a difference?

Duct cleaning has never been proven to actually prevent health problems. Nor do studies conclusively show that particles (e.g., this is because much of the dirt in the air ducts adheres to the surface of the ducts and does not necessarily enter the living space). If you or someone in your family has asthma or allergies, you may be considering cleaning your home's heating and air conditioning ducts. But even if you don't have special health problems, cleaning your ducts may appeal to you on an intuitive level.

After all, if the ducts are clean, all the air coming out of the vents should also come out clean, right? While duct cleaning operations may insist that duct cleaning is essential to health, the evidence doesn't support their claims. Companies that clean ducts often announce health benefits or suggest that cleaning ducts will reduce energy bills by improving system efficiency. Some ads even use phrases such as: “Studies have shown that.but there is no data to support these claims. Even if the ducts are dirty, cleaning them probably won't provide any measurable benefit.

In fact, the few independent research conducted on duct cleaning indicates that the process accumulates so much dust that it creates a greater problem than it solves. After all, it makes sense to clean the ducts intuitively, but the rest of the house is dusted off and the rest of the house is cleaned. The truth is that the dust that settles in the ventilation system usually stays where it is and is unlikely to reach the air unless it changes. Under most circumstances, dust is inert and harmless, and removing it with cleaning equipment actually creates major problems.

Little research has been done on the effects of duct cleaning. Studies conducted by the governments of the United States and Canada and health professionals who have researched duct cleaning go so far as to recommend its use, but neither do they support it as a routine measure. EPA and CMHC researchers used different methodologies. The CMHC study used several duct cleaning services.

The companies were not informed that they were part of a study and the researchers did not control the time spent or the methods used. The EPA study prescribed and controlled the methods used in a smaller number of homes. While the duct cleaning industry maintains that both studies are flawed, no other research has questioned the findings. And while the equipment and methods used by duct cleaning companies have changed since these studies were conducted, household air ducts haven't.

Changing air filters frequently is the best way to keep dust, allergens, and other particles out of the home. With a newly installed system or one in a house you just moved into, check the filter once a month to determine how quickly it gets dirty at different times of the year. Most should be replaced every two to three months. Although not always part of their basic cleaning services, many duct cleaning companies also tend to clean heating and cooling equipment (heat exchangers, cooling coils, condensate drain pans, fan motors, fan blades and fan housings). While much of the energy used to power heating and cooling equipment is wasted, that waste is due to equipment inefficiency, poor insulation, leaks around doors and windows, and unsealed ductwork.

While there are some benefits to cleaning and maintaining heating and air conditioning equipment, these benefits are relatively small and little energy waste is attributed to dirty ducts or equipment. The CMHC researchers found that, when duct cleaners also cleaned the fan blades, there was a small reduction of particles suspended in the air. Cleaning the fan could also slightly improve the energy efficiency of the system. The same goes for the evaporator coils in your home cooling system.

Evaporator coils cause condensation and dehumidify air before it circulates around the house. Condensed moisture can cause dust and other particles to adhere to the coils and accumulate in them. In addition, by cleaning the collector tray (and the draining nozzle of the tray) located under the coils, it is ensured that dirt does not accumulate and enter the system. It also prevents water from accumulating in and under the coils, which can cause mold problems.

Also consider inspecting your duct system for leaks, as leaking ducts reduce efficiency and introduce air quality problems. If any member of your household has specific health problems, such as allergies or asthma, consult your doctor first. It is important to identify the problem so that the doctor can suggest alternatives to cleaning the ducts. Start by identifying if the ducts are part of the problem (they probably aren't) and if cleaning them will help (it probably isn't).

If you suspect that you have a mold problem, either because of visible growth or because of a musty smell that constantly comes out of the supply grilles, cleaning the ducts won't do much good if it doesn't get rid of the mold. Mold starts with a moisture problem, and the ducts themselves are unlikely to be the cause. The most likely culprits are the cooling system's evaporator coils, which your heating and air conditioning contractor and most duct cleaning companies can inspect and maintain. Leaky return ducts can also introduce moisture.

Once again, if you suspect a mold problem, consider having a service company inspect the duct system for leaks. Ordering things only helps to a certain extent if, in the first place, you keep buying too much. Duct cleaning isn't necessarily a bad idea, but the truth is that it's not necessary in most cases. In fact, cleaning normally dusty ducts provides no real value.

If done properly, duct cleaning can be useful in limited situations. Cleaning air ducts involves the use of specialized equipment and tools to remove debris, dirt, dust, and other contaminants that enter the home through the air duct system. Keep in mind that duct cleaning uses specialized tools to agitate and dislodge dirt in ducts so that dirt and other contaminants are increasingly released and carried through the air before being vacuumed. According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), these scammers may falsely claim to be members of the NADCA or a professional HVAC association.

In fact, since it is only necessary to clean the ducts when they are contaminated, it follows that, if it is necessary to clean the ducts, the entire air conditioning system that comes into contact with the air that circulates through the ducts must be cleaned. However, duct cleaning usually doesn't change the quality of the air you breathe, nor will it significantly affect airflows or heating costs. No, cleaning the air ducts won't remove dust from your home, but it will minimize the dust that comes from the ducts, along with the dirt and other debris that gets trapped in the ducts. Cleaning the air ducts removes substances that have been found to cause “sick building syndrome”.

Part of the confusion surrounding duct cleaning services is that duct cleaning is often included as part of the overall cleaning of the air conditioning system. Changing the air filter in your air conditioning system isn't the only thing that keeps the air in your home clean. The range for professional air duct cleaning will depend on the size of your home and whether ducts need to be repaired or replaced. Professional air duct cleaning will eliminate those irritants and make the air inside the house healthier.

Research and studies conducted by certain government agencies have found that ozone air filtration systems can actually add formaldehyde, ultrafine particles, and other toxic contaminants to the air.

Rosalind Crapp
Rosalind Crapp

Certified problem solver. Amateur beer trailblazer. Infuriatingly humble music expert. Wannabe social media scholar. Incurable troublemaker.