Cleaning the air ducts in your home can help to eliminate dust,
strange odors and improve your breathing.
If the inside of your home seems slightly dingy and dusty no matter how
often you clean, if you notice a strange odor in your home, and if your
family members suffer from chronic respiratory difficulties, it could be
time to get the air ducts cleaned.
Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, sometimes referred
to as "HVAC," can collect a variety of harmful contaminants like mold,
fungi, bacteria, and small particles of dust. These contaminants fill the
air in your home, (not to mention the window sills), and can affect your
health-in particular your breathing. According to the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), removing these contaminants from your home can
improve indoor air quality. Not only will your air quality be improved, but
your HVAC system will function more efficiently, costing you less money in
heating and cooling bills.
Cleaning the air ducts in your home is not a task you can perform yourself.
A company will come into your home and use a special vacuum to suction dirt
out of the ducts. They may also employ special equipment to dislodge any
items that may be stuck in the ducts. You will probably also have the
option of having a sanitizer applied to the ducts. This is an
anti-microbial chemical that will reduce the growth of bacteria and fungus.
This sanitizer should be applied only after the system is cleaned, and
should be certified by the EPA for use in HVAC systems. Be sure to ask
about EPA certification prior to hiring the duct cleaning company.
A good source for information on air duct cleaning is the National Air Duct
Cleaners Association (NADCA) at www.nadca.com. This association certifies
air duct cleaners and provides detailed information on what to expect when
you hire someone to clean your HVAC system.
Generally, duct cleaning will cost anywhere from $450 to $1000 depending on
the size of your home and the type of system you have. The NADCA warns
consumers to be aware of "blow and go" companies-companies that promise to
clean your system for a very low price. These companies rarely do an
efficient job, and typically persuade customers into purchasing unnecessary
You should have the ducts in your home cleaned every three to five years.
If you live in a house with smokers or pets, or you live in a dusty climate
you will probably need to clean the ducts every three years. Be sure to
change your air filters four times a year in between cleanings. This will
reduce dust build-up in your system.
While cleaning your air ducts is certainly not the most exciting activity
you will spend money on this year, it could be one of the best purchases you
Source: National Air Duct Cleaners Association, www.nadca.com; Lee Fleming,
The Washington Post.