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Air Duct Cleaning Can Help You Breathe Easier

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 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 services.

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 make.

Source: National Air Duct Cleaners Association,; Lee Fleming, The Washington Post.