Do You Actually Need to Clean the HVAC Ducts in Your Home?

Proper HVAC maintenance is important, and can make your systems last from 12-15 years. Many heating and air conditioning contractors will tell you that you need regular HVAC ductwork and cleaning to avoid indoor air pollutants and health hazards. But is this really necessary to keep HVAC systems working safely and properly?

The Environmental Protection Agency has been reluctant to issue a definitive recommendation about the benefits of cleaning HVAC ductwork, since according to their website, “Knowledge about air duct cleaning is in its early stages.”

So far, studies have failed to prove that cleaning air ducts reduces or prevents health problems. They’ve also failed to prove that dirty ducts result in higher particle levels in the air of a home and that the dust in air ducts poses a health risk.

Most of the time, dust and dirt sticks to the surface of the duct and isn’t dispersed throughout a home’s living areas. You’re more likely to increase dust and dirt particles in the air by cleaning, cooking, smoking or moving around than by neglecting HVAC ductwork.

However, there are certain instances where you should get your ducts cleaned out. Unlike dust, mold growth in your ducts can pose a serious risk to your health, especially if it’s growing in the sheet metal of your ducts or in other HVAC parts. If you see substantial mold, deal with the source of the moisture and invest in HVAC ductwork.

You should also get your ducts cleaned if they’ve been infested by rodents or insects. If your ducts become clogged, or you can actually see particles being blown out of your ducts, it’s time to get them cleaned and investigate the underlying causes. Not only is this a health hazard, but reduced efficiency can impact your energy bills.

Your filter can be a source of indoor air pollutants and allergens however, and it’s easy enough to fix. Just change your filter every three months to keep the air in your home as clean as possible.