Is Duct Cleaning Worth It?

Published on: February 13, 2013

Duct cleaning services will clean the debris, mold and other unhealthy pollutants out of your ductwork using professional methods and tools. Price ranges vary depending on the company, the amount of ductwork to be cleaned and the level of debris that must be cleaned out of the system. Proactive homeowners often ask, “Is duct cleaning worth it?” The answer is not a straightforward one. Whether you would benefit from duct cleaning services depends on the condition and age of your home, and your family’s individual needs.

Problems Created by Dirty Ductwork

If you have ever seen the inside of a dirty ductwork system, you understand the problems that can arise from the debris and contaminants that collect inside the system. Debris can build up on the inside walls of the ducts, creating air flow blockage and spewing dust and dirt into the air as conditioned air travels throughout the home. Some of the problems that may be caused by a dirty ductwork system include:

– Mold

Duct systems can collect moisture from the conditioned air as the air passes through. When moisture is present in the ducts, debris adheres to the walls inside the ducts. The debris, combined with the moisture, creates a perfect breeding ground for mold. As mold grows inside the ducts, mold spores are released into the air. You and your family inhale these mold spores. Mold is a known health hazard and some people are more sensitive than others to inhaling the spores.

Mold may also make your home smell musty and moldy. If you detect a musty smell when your HVAC system kicks on, you may have mold in your ductwork.

– Dust and Dust Mites

One factor to consider when deciding if ductwork cleaning would be beneficial for you is to assess the dust buildup in your home. If the furniture, shelves and flat surfaces seem to quickly collect dust, even when you regularly clean, you may have an excessive dust buildup inside your ductwork. If dust tends to collect quickly on surfaces around your home, you may benefit from ductwork cleaning.

Dust can contribute to breathing problems, particularly for those with asthma or allergies. Even those who do not suffer from these ailments can be sensitive to inhaling dust particles.

Dust mites live in dusty environments, so excessive dust buildup in your ductwork is a breeding ground for these pests. Dust mites can aggravate allergies and irritate the respiratory system in some people. Dust mites are spread throughout the home when air flows through the ducts, then you and your family inhale the microscopic insects.

– Inhibited Air Flow

As debris builds up inside the ducts, your HVAC system’s air flow is inhibited. Blocked air flow decreases your system’s heating and cooling efficiency, as well as energy efficiency. The HVAC system must expend more energy to keep your home at the set temperature. Cleaning your ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

Evaluate the Need for Duct Cleaning

Other factors that determine if ductwork cleaning is worth the cost and effort is the level of sensitivity of you and your family to airborne contaminants and allergens. Some people are very sensitive to particulates in the air, while others have a high tolerance. If you or a family member suffers from respiratory illnesses, you may consider ductwork cleaning to improve the indoor air quality.

Benefits of Ductwork Cleaning

When professional duct cleaning companies clean a ductwork system, they not only clean inside the ducts, but they also clean components of the HVAC system. Every component that comes into contact with flowing air is inspected and cleaned. Buildup on the coils can drastically affect the efficiency of your HVAC system. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that even 4/10ths of one inch of debris collected on the coils can reduce the efficiency of your HVAC unit by as much as 21 percent. Certified professional duct cleaners will clean the coils, as well as other components of the system.

Duct cleaning is often recommended for:

  • People with allergies, respiratory illnesses and asthma
  • Homes that have had recent renovations or construction
  • Homes with a musty smell
  • Excessively dusty homes
  • When moisture is found in the duct system

What is Involved in Cleaning the Ducts?

Generally, a ductwork system can be cleaned in three to eight hours. Prices charged by companies will vary. Your HVAC contractor may provide duct cleaning as part of their standard service. Reputable ductwork cleaners are certified professionals and they use specialized tools to perform the job. In extreme cases, chemicals may be required. If your ductwork requires the use of chemicals, the technician will advise you with regards to the chemicals to be used and the toxicity of these elements. In most cases, the ducts are cleaned without the use of chemicals.

Consult Your HVAC Professional

If you think that cleaning the duct system may improve the quality of life for you and your family by improving the indoor air quality, you probably should consult with your local HVAC professional. An HVAC technician will inspect your duct system to evaluate the amount of dirt and debris that has collected in the system over time. Your HVAC professional will probably be the best person to answer your question, “Is duct cleaning worth it?”

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