Why You Don’t Really Need to Clean Your Ducts Every Year

Don't assume that you need heating and cooling ducts cleaned unless you actually have excessive dust and debris or mold in them. Unless you have a problem, cleaning the ducts is not likely to improve air quality.

Residential Hvac Duct Cleaning With A Power BrushBanksPhotos/Getty Images

Is Duct Cleaning Necessary?

Many wonder if they should have their heating and cooling ducts cleaned so they can improve their home’s indoor air quality. But there hasn’t been any hard evidence to show that duct cleaning improves indoor air quality or prevents health problems, so we don’t routinely recommend it. Exceptions would be if you find mold growth inside the ducts (first eliminate the moisture that caused the mold), the ducts have become home to rodents or insects, or the ducts are clogged by debris (usually from a remodeling project). To check for these problems, take off the register covers and shine a light down the duct as far as you can see.

How to Clean Ductwork

Cleaning whole house duct work is a little more involved than cleaning your dryer duct. This is a job best left to the professionals. If you decide to have the ducts cleaned, be prepared to spend $350 to $1,000 for a thorough job that includes cleaning the entire heating and cooling system. Be wary of companies that offer “specials” for $100 or less, since they usually don’t do a complete job. And take before and after looks at your ducts to make sure you see a difference.

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