How Does Air Duct Cleaning Work?

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

When you’re a homeowner, you need to do all you can to keep the place pristine. You might know that air duct cleaning should be a part of that. However, that can lead to multiple questions…

You might have questions like, how does air duct cleaning work? What is the process when an air duct cleaning company comes to my home? What are the benefits of doing this? How often should it be done? How do I know when it needs to happen?

For questions to all these questions, keep reading the following paragraphs to learn all about this subject.

How Does Air Duct Cleaning Work?

The process of air duct cleaning starts with you choosing a professional cleaning crew to come to your home. When they show up, they’re likely to have a van or truck full of equipment and supplies, because handheld and residential vacuum machines simply won’t cut it. They’ll look over your system, clean it piece by piece, and then put it back together. They’ll then clean up after themselves and leave your home better than ever before. And in the case of commercial duct cleaning, the same attention to detail applies to your business.

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What Is The Process When An Air Duct Cleaning Company Comes To My Home?

The actual process is of course more specific than that. Technicians are likely to ‘zone’ your HVAC air duct system so they can clean them one at a time. The most basic zoning distinguishes the supply side from the return side, but more sophisticated zoning might break things down even further. Zone bags or other physical barriers might be used to keep dust and debris from moving from one zone to the next and escaping the overall cleaning.

For technicians to access your HVAC’s supply side, they’re likely going to have to cut a hole into it. They’ll use that hole to connect their vacuum via a connection collar as they turn the vacuum on outside. For instance, our Seattle duct cleaning company did this extremely seamlessly, to the point you can barely see that there is an insertion point.

In order to make the most of the negative pressure, every supply register will have to get closed off. When that happens, the technicians will clean out each duct one at a time. This should get rid of anything you don’t want in the main trunk lines.

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Following the cleaning of the supply branches, the technicians will probably address the primary trunk and plenum drop, depending on their specific technology and your system layout.

Once the supply side gets totally cleaned out, the return side is next. Another access hole is cut just like before.

Once everything in the ductwork is cleaned out, a sanitization or sterilization process is likely to follow. Then, if applicable, the technicians might clean the squirrel cage, blower motor, and furnace.

High-caliber sheet metal is used to seal up access holes to prevent leaks until the next cleaning, which can use those access points with ease.

A final walkthrough should happen before the technicians are satisfied with their work, before also doing a walkthrough with you for your own peace of mind.

How Often Should You Get Air Ducts Cleaned?

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association, or NADCA, suggests that on average you should get professional air duct cleaning done in three- to five-year cycles. Having said that, you might want to do it more frequently if you spot certain factors that might indicate dirty air ducts.

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First of all, if you find mold anywhere in your HVAC, it’s time for a cleaning. Humid climates might mean needing your system cleaned twice a year instead of twice a decade.

Second, when your home was just built or underwent serious renovation, consider getting a duct cleaning done. Construction work is messy, and no matter how diligent the laborers are, dust and debris will get in.

Third, if your home cleaning doesn’t seem to ever get rid of dust, it might be piled up inside your ductwork. Call in professionals to get to the places you can’t.

Fourth, watch out for rising energy bills. Granted, it seems like the costs of everything are always rising, but it might not be inflation or corporate greed so much as your system working harder than it has to.

The Benefits Of Air Duct Cleaning

Having your air ducts cleaned out regularly means everyone can literally breathe easier. Anyone with allergies or respiratory sensitivities and ailments will have a much simpler time living in your home, and honestly, air duct cleaning might even prevent certain individuals from having such issues in the first place. 

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You’ll also save money. A regularly cleaned system won’t have to work as hard to move air past the physical obstructions of dirt and debris within the ducts. That makes your utility bills cheaper now but also lets the system run longer into the future, sparing you repairs and replacements.

Having air ducts cleaned out by professionals means avoiding the time and energy amateurs would waste, as well as rookie mistakes that can risk your home and health. 

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