How To Tell If Air Ducts Need Cleaning—10 Signs To Look For

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Air ducts are an essential part of making sure your home gets the right amount of airflow. However, to have proper airflow in your home, you will need to clean them from time to time. But, how do you know if you need to clean your air ducts? In this article, we give this answer to you!

Here are the signs that your air ducts need to be cleaned:

  • The indoor coil and the outdoor condenser are iced over
  • A musty smell
  • Vents and ducts are clogged
  • Clogged air filters
  • Vermin infestation
  • Electric bills are higher than normal
  • Noises in duct work
  • Your house is always dusty
  • Your family has health problems
  • Vent grills are dirty

As you can see, there are several tell-tale signs that your air ducts need cleaning. However, there is more to the list above. That's why in this article we will explain each in detail. In addition, we will discuss how often you should clean your air ducts and how much to expect to spend on the job, so read on.

Man cleaning air ducts in home, How To Tell If Air Ducts Need Cleaning—10 Signs To Look For

How To Tell If Air Ducts Need Cleaning

Air ducts are metal or fiberglass pipes that deliver air from the wall or ceiling to other parts of your home. Like other parts of your home, they should receive a good cleaning from time to time. However, it isn't always easy to know when it's time to do so. Let's take a look at the signs of when to clean your air ducts:

The Indoor Coil and the Outdoor Condenser are Iced Over

If you notice that your air conditioner or furnace has a lot of ice build-up on it, then it's time to clean your air ducts! The reason for this is because the primary way that your AC/Furnace cools your home is through its coils.

When the interior of your air ducts is dirty, this causes a build-up on the outer part of the AC/Furnace coil. When this happens, ice can quickly form on it! The ice build-up will cause your AC unit to work much harder than expected.

This causes your energy bill to skyrocket, and you might notice that it takes longer for your furnace to heat your home. The easiest way that you can prevent this is by cleaning your air ducts regularly.

A Musty Smell

If you notice a musty smell in your home, then there may be mold growing inside your air ducts. Mold sometimes can grow unseen because the vents are so big and wide.

Also, they usually run underground or even right through your walls. The best way to see if this is the case is by putting a flashlight up to the vents. If you notice any discoloration or large build-ups, then you should think about cleaning your air ducts.

Vents and Ducts are Clogged

If your vents and ducts are clogged, it will make it harder for the AC/Furnace to blow cool or hot air into your home. This is because, with clogged vents, less air is allowed through.

If you notice that large amounts of dust are coming out of your registers, then it's time to clean your air ducts. The best way that you can prevent your ducts from clogging is to have them cleaned regularly.

Clogged Air Filters

Dirt accumulating in the dirty air ducts of a house

If your air filters are clogged, it will make it more complex and less efficient for the AC/Furnace to blow cool or hot air into your home. Also, if you see a lot of dust or debris on your air filter, then it's time to clean your air ducts.

The best way that you can prevent this from happening is by cleaning your air filters regularly.

Vermin Infestation

Often, rodents like mice or even larger animals will try to make your air ducts their home. This is because they love hiding in dark spaces.

If you notice tiny bones or feces inside your vents, then it's time to clean your air ducts. The best way that you can prevent this from happening is by cleaning your air ducts every year.

Electric Bills are Higher than Normal

If your energy bills are higher than usual, then your air ducts may be dirty. This is because when the AC/Furnace is working overtime to keep your home cool or heat it, you will notice a spike in your energy bill.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by cleaning your air ducts. But, again, you will notice a difference in your energy bill.

Noises in Duct Work

If your AC/Furnace is making many strange noises, then they may be damaged. The most likely cause for this happening is because there is so much build-up inside of the ducts. If you notice light rattling sounds in your ductwork, then it's time to clean your air ducts.

Your House is Always Dusty

If your house is always dusty, the airflow into your home may be experiencing some restriction. This can happen if there is a lot of build-up in your vents. If this is happening, you should clean your air ducts as soon as possible.

Your Family has Health Problems

Some members of your family may be sensitive to the allergens that build up in air ducts. If your Family is having health problems, or if you have been noticing a lot of dust in your home, then it's time to clean your air ducts. The cleaning process may be difficult and tedious, but the health benefits for you and your family will make it well worth it.

Vent Grills are Dirty

If your vent grills are dirty, it will make it harder for the air to flow into your home. The best way to prevent this from happening is by cleaning them regularly. If you notice that large amounts of dust are gathering in the vents, then it's time think about cleaning them.

What Happens if Air Ducts are Not Cleaned?

If you don't clean and maintain your air ducts, then they can become clogged. The best way that you can prevent this from happening is by getting them cleaned regularly.

Another big concern is the risk of moisture build-up in your air ducts. If you notice a lot of condensation or moisture building up inside your air ducts, then it could be a sign that your AC/Furnace isn't working correctly. In this situation, you should have your air ducts thoroughly checked out as soon as possible.

Air conditioner system with dirty condition

Can you Clean Air Ducts yourself?

You can clean air ducts yourself, but most experts recommend that you hire a professional to do it for you. If you don't have the proper supplies or equipment, you risk causing more damage than good.

However, if you want to save the costs of hiring a professional, here is how you clean your home's air ducts yourself:

  1. It would help if you started by shutting off your furnace, locking the thermostat setting, and turning off fans.
  2. Using a brush attachment on your vacuum, carefully remove as much dust from the air ducts as possible. Make sure to check for excessive cobwebs or blockages along the way.
  3. Be careful not to spill excess debris on the floor. Instead, sweep this up using a broom or dustpan.
  4. Use a small brush attachment to clean out all the vents in your home.  Be sure to wear protective gear, as you don't want it to contact your skin.

Remember to be thorough! It's better to take extra time cleaning the air ducts than rushing through them. The last thing that you want to happen is to cause further damages.

Is Duct Cleaning Messy?

Cleaning your air ducts can be messy, depending on how often they were cleaned before. The best thing that you can do to prevent this from happening is to get a professional to clean them.

If you happened to buy a home or are in the process of buying one, then ask about the air ducts. Have the air ducts cleaned before moving into the home to be sure.

How Much Does it Cost to Have Ducts Cleaned?

The cost to have your ducts cleaned will depend on the size of the home and how dirty the air ducts are. Nonetheless, you can expect to pay $350 on average. However, if there is any contamination, such as mold, the costs can increase significantly.

How Often Does Ductwork Need to be Cleaned?

On average, the ductwork needs to be cleaned every 3 to 5 years. If you have allergies, then you should clean them more frequently. If you notice a lot of dust and debris inside your home, then it is time to clean your air ducts.

Final Thoughts

Person in a protective rubber glove washes in the sink air filter of the ventilation return duct blocked by dust and debris

If you don't clean your air ducts, you run the risk of exposing yourself to mold, mildew, and other unwanted contaminants.  The best way to prevent this from happening is by cleaning your air ducts every 3-5 years. Also, if you are thinking about purchasing a home, be sure to have them clean them before making an offer!

For more articles, check these out:

Older Home With No Ductwork? Here Are Your Air Conditioning Options

4 Best Air Conditioner Covers For Winter

How To Clean A Boneco Air Washer – Follow These Steps!

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