9 Signs Your Air Ducts Need to be Cleaned

The air quality inside your home is a valid source of concern. From ambient smell to serious health factors, a clean-running air ducted system is important for a happy home. Since the air ducts are an out-of-sight system, it’s easy to forget that they might need cleaning.

It can be hard to know if it’s time to give your air ducts a good cleaning. To help keep you informed, we’ve done the research and listed 9 indications that your ducts need some special attention.

9 Signs Your Air Ducts Need to be Cleaned

1. Excessive Debris on Vents or Filters

Vents require occasional cleaning, and filters should be replaced every few months. However, if you find that vents and filters are frequently gathering debris or becoming clogged, then it’s likely that a build-up inside the ducts needs to be addressed. A good way to check for particles coming out of the ducts is to monitor the vents whenever the ducetd system being used kicks on. If dust clouds spew out, then you’ve got too much build-up.

2. Increased Electricity Costs

Depending on the type of air system running through your air ducts, a blockage in the ducts might require extra energy usage from the system, boosting the price on your monthly energy bill. Keep an eye on any unusual spikes in your energy usage for this tell-tale sign.

3. Dust on Household Surfaces

Similar to checking the vents for unusually high amounts of dust, monitor the amount of cleaning you do around the house. Dusty household surfaces could mean dirty ducts and contaminated air.

4. Uneven Airflow

A blocked-up duct will prevent air from reaching all the corners of your home. If there’s a spot in your house that no longer receives adequate air circulation, this could be the cause.

5. Visible Presence of Mold or Mildew

General dust is unsightly and a potential nuisance on the lungs. Mold, however, is a more serious health hazard; it can spread quickly, and if allowed to grow for too long, costly damages can occur. Any build-up of mold inside the air ducts of your home should be addressed immediately by hiring a professional technician.

6. Noticeable Odor

One of the most noticeable indicators that your air ducts need to be cleaned is a musty odor. There are several causes of off-smelling air coming from a duct system. Most often, a thorough cleaning is the only solution. More importantly, moisture in the system is a common cause of musty odors, and with excess moisture comes hazardous mold. So, if there’s a weird stench in the air, it’s best to investigate.

7. Unusual Noises

Any new or unfamiliar sounds coming from the air vents could indicate a problem within the ducts. Rattling, clanking or humming noises that occur whenever your furnace, AC system, or HVAC system kicks on is a sure sign that something is amiss.

8. Newly Built Home or Recent Repairs

Recent construction work inside your home can introduce a high level of dust and debris into the air that will end up settling in the air ducts. Due to possibly hazardous materials used in certain construction jobs, a build-up of debris could be harmful to your health.

To prevent construction debris build-up, it’s a good idea to shut off the ducted system during any renovations. With a newly built home, check the air ducts before initiating the system.

9. Pest Infestation

An infestation of any kind inside your air ducts is an obvious sign that it’s time to clean. Animal and insect infestations are unsettling for many reasons. General squeamishness aside, pests are a massive health hazard, especially if they’re inside your air ducts. Bacteria and viruses from their droppings can become airborne and spread throughout the home. Any infestation should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible.

Air Duct Cleaning FAQs

Why do you need to clean air ducts?

The two primary reasons to clean your air ducts are mold and pests. With pests, especially, there’s the risk of bacteria entering the airflow. Certain molds can also be toxic if inhaled.

An excess of dust or debris build-up could put extra weight on the ducts which might lead to further issues or costly damage. Also, ducts that are free of significant build-up will ensure a clean-smelling household.

**It is important to note that some experts advise caution against unnecessary clean-up jobs. Even with visible signs of dust build-up, there’s no immediate need to clean inside your air ducts. A moderate level of dust and debris is common and unlikely to contaminate the air. In fact, unnecessary and inexperienced cleaning can dislodge dust particles that would otherwise remain non-airborne. So, before committing to cleaning your ducts, consider whether or not the task is necessary.

How much does it cost to clean your air ducts?

For most houses, a professional cleaning will range between $300 to $500. With a big cleaning job (a large house or a mold and/or pest problem), the cost could go as has high or higher than $1000.

Can you clean air ducts yourself?

If you’re DIY savvy, you can certainly tackle this job by yourself. Ducts can be cleaned with basic household supplies and a few easy steps. However, if you see mold or pests inside the ducts, you’ll want to hire a professional. Also, since this is a delicate job, be careful not to dislodge or damage the ducts.

Final Thoughts

Ensuring that the air within your home is clean and healthy to breathe is a worthy task. And considering the amount of air that passes through the ducts, it seems likely that they’ve accumulated layers of toxic dust and debris that regularly contaminates the air However, most air ducts (even ducts with visible signs of dust build-up) are pretty harmless. The rule of thumb is that moderate dust inside the ducts is normal and of no real concern.

The best line of defense when in comes to your ducted system is regular filter changes and visual inspections. Mold, pests, and a poor functioning system are the main causes for immediate air duct cleaning. And because air ducts are susceptible to damage, caution is advised for any DIY jobs.