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What Is Duct and Vent Cleaning?February 8th, 2023 by
Have you noticed your house getting dusty more quickly than usual lately? Are your utility bills slowly creeping up each month? Dirty ductwork and HVAC system components may be to blame. The easiest way to fix the issue is with duct cleaning. While you can clean ducts and vents yourself to a certain degree, you will see the biggest benefit if you hire a professional. We explain what duct cleaning is and explain how to clean air ducts.
What Is Duct Cleaning?
Duct and air vent cleaning is a process of removing dust, dirt, debris, and other contaminants from the ducts and vents in your home. This process is important for maintaining good indoor air quality and preventing health problems. It can also help improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by reducing the amount of dust that accumulates on the components.
The process of duct and vent cleaning involves using specialized equipment to remove dust, dirt, and other debris from the ducts and vents. This includes vacuuming out the interior of the ducts and vents, as well as using brushes and air compressors to dislodge any stubborn particles. The technician will then use a high-powered vacuum to collect all of the debris that has been removed.
How to Are Air Ducts Cleaned?
It takes specialized equipment and techniques to clean dirty air ducts. The process begins with a thorough inspection of the ducts and vents to identify any areas that need to be cleaned. Once the problem areas have been identified, the technician will remove dust, dirt, and debris from your dirty ducts.
The most effective method takes advantage of negative pressure to clean the air ducts thoroughly. The pressure dislodges the dust and debris, then they use a high-powered vacuum to suck up the debris.
The technician may also use special cleaning agents to help remove any stubborn dirt or grime. Finally, they will inspect the ducts and vents one last time to make sure that all of the debris has been removed.
While there are other duct cleaning methods, this is routinely the most effective. Because of unscrupulous duct cleaners, the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) has worked with air duct cleaning services to inform consumers about the process better.
These NADCA procedures establish how to properly clean ducts, registers, filters, plenums, evaporator coils, and air handlers—almost every component of a forced-air HVAC system—and the results will be obvious.
The methods used by accredited contractors are called source-removal techniques by NADCA, and they involve cleaning the ducts by hand and with compressed air tools while a vacuum collection device extracts dislodged dust and debris.
How Duct Cleaning Works
Step 1: Inspect the ducts
A simple, visual inspection of the ducts leading to the return and supply registers is important for two reasons. First, it’s a step that you can take yourself to assess the level of buildup in the ducts beforehand and confirm the difference after they’ve been cleaned.
(A duct cleaning contractor will likely have cameras that can probe even farther into the ducts and show the full extent of the buildup prior to cleaning.)
Second, a professional duct cleaning is an opportunity for the technician to check the ductwork for leaks or kinks in the case of flexible ducts. Many duct cleaning contractors can also make repairs and replace damaged ductwork.
Step 2: Create negative pressure
Duct cleaning contractors use large, portable or truck-mounted vacuum collection devices to suck dust and debris out of your ductwork. However, before turning on the suction and scrubbing the ducts, the technicians must perform a few preliminary steps.
- First, they must hook the vacuum collection device’s large hose to a duct to the air handler—the heart of your HVAC system. In most cases, the technician will cut an access hole in the duct and insert the vacuum hose. Once the cleaning is complete, they will seal the hole.
(Note that your HVAC system includes supply-side and return-side ducts. The supply side sends air throughout your house. The return side brings air back into the system. Since the two sides are completely separate, the duct cleaning process must be performed on each.)
- Next, the technician should seal each register with an adhesive cover. This is an important step because even an extremely powerful vacuum collection device will be ineffective if the registers in each room of the house are uncovered.
- Once the technician finished these preparatory steps, he or she will turn on the vacuum unit. This step creates negative pressure, and particles inside the ductwork will be sucked into the collection device as they’re brushed or blown loose.
Step 3: Agitate the dust
Once the system is under negative pressure, the technician will uncover each register and clean the ducts one by one. One thing that distinguishes a NADCA-certified duct cleaning contractor from a fly-by-night is the amount of time each spends per register.
Improperly trained technicians have been known to move on after a quick burst from an air compressor and a spritz of disinfectant; this technique is largely ineffective and usually results in dust being blown back into the room.
Legitimate technicians will use rotating brushes, compressed air tools, and simple vacuum cleaners to ensure dust is dislodged and sucked into the vacuum collection device.
Step 4: Clean the rest of the system
NADCA recommends cleaning the other components of the HVAC system as well, including the air handler’s blower motor, evaporator coil, and drain pan.
Cleaning these components, along with cleaning or changing the filter, will improve the air quality in your home, extend the life, and increase the efficiency of your HVAC system. To find out more about these particular tasks, read our maintenance tips for improved HVAC efficiency.
The Bottom Line
Does negative pressure air duct cleaning work? Yes! But it must be done correctly and by qualified professionals.
NADCA states that a thorough cleaning should take three to five hours. While this service might cost more than what an uncertified contractor charges for a brisk cleaning, the results of a cleaning performed according to NADCA’s best practices will justify the time and cost.
A properly trained contractor will perform the job thoroughly and carefully, ensuring that your ductwork winds up clean and undamaged. Find a duct cleaning contractor to ensure that you receive service that meets the industry standard for quality.