Owning a home naturally comes with a host of maintenance tasks that need to be completed in order to keep everything running smoothly. Unfortunately, some of these tasks tend to be overlooked in favor of more obvious things like fixing cracks in the foundation or resolving plumbing issues. One of the tasks often overlooked is cleaning out your air ducts.
Have you noticed dust puffs circulating in the air whenever you turn on your home’s HVAC system? What about pet hair or debris trapped in a vent? These may be indicators that the duct system in your house is in need of a thorough cleaning. Depending on climate and the pets you may have, you should plan to have your air ducts cleaned every two to seven years by a professional. While changing out your air filters every six months or so will help cut down on the amount of dust and dander, this won’t protect every single part of your HVAC system.
Here are 5 dirty air duct indicators that may indicate it’s time to call the professionals.
1) Open an available air duct and take a look inside. If it is filled with dust particles, dirt, pet hair, or similar, you may want to consider getting things professionally cleaned.
2) Examine return air registers, especially for thick patches of dust build-up.
3) Remove the air filter from your furnace and/or air conditioning units. If the filter is covered by dust, air probably isn’t circulating throughout your home as easily as it should. Chances are your ducts are clogged with dust, too.
4) Examine the blower and motor on your furnace for a build-up of dirt and debris.
5) Examine the coils of your air conditioner for a build-up of dust and dirt.
Many people may not feel that a little bit of dust and dirt is a big deal. After all, our homes are lived in, aren’t they? So they should indicate signs of life. No one is arguing that a little build-up of pet hair, dirt, and the like isn’t normal. However, when the build-up becomes excessive to the point that your air duct system is adversely affected, it’s time to call someone to clean it out. Here’s why:
1) Build-up of dust and dirt actually lowers the efficiency of your HVAC system’s heating and cooling. This, in turn, increases the amount of work your HVAC system has to do when warming or cooling your house, which ultimately affects your energy bill.
2) Dust contains more than just dirt; it also contains things like dead skin, microorganisms from cat litter, pollen, rodent feces and more. When you leave those things in your air duct, you can imagine the type of breeding ground it turns into for bacteria and the like.
3) Dust spreads far more quickly when you have dirty air ducts. Properly cleaning the ducts helps prevent allergens from flowing between rooms.
Unlike many projects that can be done around your home, do not attempt to clean out your air ducts yourself. It’s also not a job for someone with the lowest bid and an air compressor. Be sure to get bids from professionals who have reputable reviews on websites like Angie’s List, Google, and Yelp. A 2,000 square foot house will probably cost about $300- $500 to have ducts professionally cleaned. It’s a small investment that can make a really big difference, right away.