How Are Ducts Cleaned? A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re thinking of having your HVAC system and ductwork cleaned, you might have several questions lingering in your mind.

One of the most common ones among homeowners is, “How are ducts cleaned?”

Understanding the process can help you know what to expect when hiring professional duct cleaners. It can also help you understand why it’s not recommended as a DIY project. 

So, if you want to talk to a duct cleaning expert right away, contact us now

What Is Air Duct Cleaning?

Duct cleaning involves removing dust, debris, and other contaminants from the ductwork of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

The ductwork of an HVAC system is a collection of tubes that carry heated or cooled air throughout a home or building.

Having your home’s air ducts cleaned properly can improve indoor air quality, reduce energy costs, and extend the life of the furnace or air conditioner.

What Equipment Do Duct Cleaners Use?

A proper duct cleaning process utilizes specialized equipment, including:

  • Visual Inspection Tools, such as cameras and mirrors, help to inspect the inside of ducts for mold growth, build-up, and damage.
  • Rotating Brushes help to loosen and dislodge dust or other particles from the walls of the ductwork.
  • Air Compressors power air whips and blow guns, which further loosen and remove contaminants from the ducts. 
  • High-Powered and Specialized Vacuum Cleaners collect and remove the loosened dirt from the interior of vents and ducts.

Air Duct Cleaning Process Step-By-Step

A typical air duct cleaning process involves the following steps. 

  • Inspection
  • Preparation
  • Negative pressure vacuuming
  • Dust agitation
  • Entire system clean up
  • Post cleaning inspection
How Are Ducts Cleaned - working on air duct and air pipes

  1. Inspection

Assessing the entire system before starting the cleaning process allows the technician to:

  • Assess the level of air contamination or build-up. 
  • Check for leaks in the ductwork.
  • Determine if the ductwork has any asbestos materials
  • Estimate the cost and time required for the cleaning process

The technician will typically use a visual inspection tool, like a specialized camera, to view the interior of the ducts. Having evidence of the condition before and after can help you confirm the effectiveness of the cleanup.

In case of microbial growth, they can take samples to analyze for mold presence. 

After the inspection, the technician will discuss their findings and the recommended method of cleanup. 

  1. Preparation

The next step involves preparation activities to protect the home and ensure a thorough job. 

Here’s how experts prepare your home for duct cleaning:

  • Placing drop cloths on the floor
  • Protecting carpet and household furnishings
  • Safeguarding the walls with corner guards
  • Setting up all the equipment and tools 
  • Cutting access ports or holes into the ductwork 
  • Sealing off registers and vents
  1. Negative Pressure Vacuuming

Negative-pressure vacuuming is the most effective way to clean air ducts, and it’s recommended by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). 

The contractor will insert a vacuum hose into the ducts through the access holes they’ve cut and create negative pressure. 

Creating negative pressure in the ductwork ensures that dirt particles and other air pollutants don’t spread in your living space after the process. Instead, it draws the contaminants out of the ductwork and into a vacuum cleaner.

Duct-cleaning contractors can use portable systems or truck-mounted vacuum systems. The latter is known to be more effective than portable vacuuming systems.

  1. Dust Agitation

This process involves the loosening and dislodging of dust and debris stuck on the walls of air ducts. It ensures all contaminants are removed from the ductwork. 

Some of the common methods of dust agitation include:

  • Rotating brushes
  • Air whips
  • Blowguns
  • Compressed air nozzles

Expect a lot of noise during the dust agitation and vacuuming process.

  1. Entire System Clean Up

Failing to clean the other parts of your home’s heating and cooling system will result in recontamination or quick dirt build-up. NADCA suggests cleaning all the components, including:

  • Air ducts
  • Drain pan
  • Evaporator coil
  • Air plenum
  • Registers
  • Heat exchanger
  • Air cleaner 
  • Grills
  • Blower motor and assembly
  1. Post Cleaning Inspection

The goal of post-duct cleaning inspection is to ensure the system is clean and functional. The technician will use their inspecting devices again to ensure they’ve done a thorough job, with evidence. 

It’s also a moment for you, as the home or property owner, to determine if the work was done satisfactorily. Request to see the before and after photos.

A dirty laundry flexible aluminum dryer vent duct ductwork filled with lint, dust and dirt against a blue background

Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning

Are you wondering when it’s necessary to have your air ducts cleaned? Here are some of the signs that you should look out for. 

  • Reduced indoor air quality
  • Strange odors
  • Rodents or insect infestation in the ducts (you’ll hear noise inside) 
  • Mold growth
  • If you’ve had a recent construction or renovation work

How Often Should Air Ducts Be Cleaned? 

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends cleaning your air ducts every three to five years. However, you might need shorter clean-up periods if you: 

  • Have pets
  • Smoke indoors
  • Live in a dusty area

DIY vs Professional Duct Cleaning

There are DIY duct cleaning techniques, but they’re not recommended. You don’t want to end up with more contamination in your living space than if you hadn’t touched the system. 

A thorough duct cleaning process requires expert knowledge of HVAC systems and access to specialized tools.

Choosing a Reputable Air Duct Cleaner

Here are some tips to help you choose responsible contractors:

  • Choose insured duct cleaners. This will protect you in case of any damage to your property or if the duct cleaner is injured while working on your home. 
  • Make sure the contractor has experience in cleaning your type of ductwork and HVAC system. 
  • Check if the duct cleaner complies with NADCA air duct cleaning standards.
  • Check references or reviews to get an idea of the quality of their work and customer service. 
  • Get a written estimate and contract that outlines the services to be performed, the cost, and the warranty. 

Bottom Line 

Duct cleaning takes about three to four hours and has several benefits to your energy bills, indoor air quality, and the longevity of your HVAC system. 

But to reap the benefits of duct cleaning, you must choose the contractors carefully. Make sure they don’t just clean the ducts but the entire system. 

If you’re in South Dakota, stress yourself no more! Contact us today via the online form or call us at 6053344032 now for a free quote.

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