Air ducts are hidden out of sight and out of mind in most homes, but it would be a mistake to ignore them. Over time, a substantial buildup of dust and other particles can develop inside your ductwork. These particles can make their way into your air supply any time you use your HVAC. It’s not always easy to tell whether or not you need a duct cleaning, but there are a few signs to look for:
- Open up one of your air vents or registers, and use a flashlight to look inside. If you can see visible dust, mold or other particle buildup, it’s time for a cleaning. Unfortunately, in most homes, large sections of ductwork are not accessible for viewing, so it may take a professional inspection to thoroughly assess your ducts.
- If your air ducts are infested mice, cockroaches or other vermin, duct cleaning is an effective way to deal with this problem. Even if you don’t see the pests themselves, a duct inspection may reveal their waste.
- If you see particles actually emerging from your ducts and being blown into your home, this is among the surest signs that a cleaning is needed. If your registers are located behind furniture, you may also notice dust buildup on the back of the furniture itself.
- Dirty ducts may result in your furnace or air conditioner filters becoming dirty more quickly.
- Construction or renovations in your home can release a lot of particles into the air, so it’s usually a good idea to have your ducts inspected afterward.
- If your ducts have not been cleaned or checked in more than two years, consider having them inspected. You’ll either catch the problem before it becomes too serious, or find out you don’t have anything to worry about after all.
It’s hard to make general statements about the benefits of duct cleaning, because every home is different. In many cases, particle accumulation inside air ducts can aggravate allergy symptoms and cause other problems – but not always. If you’re not sure whether or not your ducts need to be cleaned, the surest way to find out is to contact a professional.