How Do I Know If My Air Ducts Need To Be Cleaned?

We like nothing better than to come back home to cool ourselves off in the summer or warmer cells during winters. However, when using our HVAC systems all year long, we rarely notice our system’s condition. This negligence soon shows itself in the form of reduced airflow and excessive energy bills.

Besides not getting efficient cool or warm air across the entire household, poor airflow can also result in severe health issues for you and your entire family. Later on, you may start noticing dirt and dust emanating from the air in your house’s rooms, which can be detrimental to those with intense allergies or asthmatic conditions.

The source of poor air quality from an HVAC system is due to untidy air ducts, which is where allergens and contaminants make their way out of the duct system and into our humble abode.

But how do I know if my air ducts need to be cleaned? Here are x of the most common tell-all signs indicating that your air ducts are due for a cleanup:

Common Signs That Indicate Your Air Ducts Require Cleaning

1.   Dust

If you notice that there’s a small dust puff coming out from your HVAC system’s air registers, that’s a definite indication that there may be dust coming from the air ducts. Usually, air ducts don’t discard any debris or dust when the HVAC unit cycles on, and then air starts flowing from the vents.

Any sign of dust could also serve as an indication of dusty air registers. But if you find that the problem persists even after cleaning the air registers inside and out, it could be because the interior dust is trapped inside.

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2.   Mold

Dust is a common annoyance, especially if you’re an allergy or asthmatic patient. But when it comes to mold, we need to take immediate action. Not only is mold capable of aggravating allergies and respiratory issues, but it can also spread relatively quickly across our house.

Our HVAC system can develop condensation, promoting the growth of mold in our ductwork (mainly if we live in a humid climate). Mold may be spotted around the vent covers, but most of our HVAC’s components aren’t always accessible, which is why mold is especially challenging to detect from the naked eye in our air ducts. But while it may be hard to try, mold does have a rather musty odor to it.

If there is mold in the air ducts, you need to take swift action to preserve your house’s indoor air quality. Whether you’re familiar with the situation or not, you should always call a professional air duct cleaning expert to properly identify the source of the mold so they can prevent it from occurring again soon.

3.   Pest Infestation

One of the creepiest causes of reduced airflow is pests roaming about in your HVAC’s vent. A very telling sign that nasty critters are wandering about in the ductwork is shuffling or scratching sounds. Rats and roaches are known for spreading disease easily and quickly, which is why you must contact both a pest control service and a duct cleaner when dealing with a situation such as this.

When rodents take refuge in your ductwork, without making themselves known to your visual senses, there are ways where you can tell they’re already in there. Apart from looking for signs of droppings, you’ll also come across unpleasant smells or chewed up materials, definitively indicating that you are dealing with an infestation.

4.   Clogged Up Air Filter

Another glaring sign that debris and dust have accumulated in or even around your HVAC system is a filthy reusable or a disposable air filter from your furnace or HVAC system.

Suppose you can catch this issue early and initiate regular rotation of replacing or cleaning your air filters. In that case, it can actually help prevent the need and the cost for a complete air duct cleaning.

5.   An Issue with Duct Insulation

Homeowners prefer to add insulation to their air ductwork to improve the efficiency of their cooling and heating and lower their overall energy costs. However, installing ductwork can also be an early warning sign that it requires immediate cleanup. When looking into your HVAC system, do also give your insulation a thorough inspection as well. Be on the lookout for damp, flaking, or damaged areas.

If the insulation is a bit damp or wet, then you’ll have to schedule an elaborate air duct cleaning job. The sooner you act on this, the better you’ll be in the long run. With that in mind, you shouldn’t even try to think about putting this off.

How Often to Clean Air Ducts

Apart from all the problems we’ve listed above, another question that comes to mind is, “how often should you clean your air ducts?”

As a general rule of thumb, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) suggests we clean our HVAC ducts every 3 or 5 years. Obviously, there’s no way of knowing exactly when is the right time to service our air ducts. That rough estimation is given from duct cleaning professionals based on their collective years of past experience on a vast range of systems.

However, if an HVAC system is one that requires cleaning more than once a year, then there must be a problem with the system itself since it allows dirt to infiltrate the system’s components.