Air Duct Cleaning

Learn about what role your air ducts serve in your home, and how to spot when your ducts are dirty. Discover top air duct cleaning services.

A growing concern among homeowners is indoor air quality. Air quality is difficult to gauge because there are minimal signs something is wrong with the air in your home until it starts causing issues. Each day you bring in multiple contaminants into your home, including dust, dander and chemicals. These contaminants are eventually pulled into your air ducts and recirculated throughout your home. Air ducts have filters and other means to help block harmful contaminants, but no system is designed to last forever. If you do not properly clean out your air ducts, the air in your home can become contaminated.

A dirty air duct makes breathing harder, especially if you or anyone in the household suffers from allergies or respiratory conditions. Coughing and sneezing are also more likely because of dirty air ducts. It can also lead to unpleasant smells around your household. Unclean air ducts are also less efficient, requiring more energy to circulate air, leading to increased heating or cooling bills.

Understanding Air Ducts

While it may seem like a simple concept, there are many misconceptions regarding how to properly clean air ducts. A common misconception is where the duct is located. The air duct refers to the pipe that runs throughout your house and carries air. Ducts are made out of several different substances, usually based on when your house was built. Metal, fiberglass and special plastics are most often used. Pipes are normally round, but depending on the build of your home, your ducts may have a different shape.

The front portion of the duct, which is the most visible in your home, is the vent covering. While cleaning the vent covering is important because it directly affects your duct, it is not the same as cleaning the entire duct. A dirty vent may indicate contamination within the duct, but this is not always the case. If you see signs of mold along your duct, it is important to schedule a cleaning as quickly as possible, as your air duct may be blowing mold throughout your home.  

Cleaning Air Ducts

Air ducts are difficult to clean because the piping is not exposed. Even if you open up your vent, you can only get to a small portion of the duct. Properly cleaning air ducts requires specialized tools and experience. If you try to clean your own ducts, you risk more contaminants getting into the duct. Air duct cleaning is performed by Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) technicians.

The cleaning techniques may vary depending on the technician, but most use a custom Bristol brush machine equipped with specialized filters and vacuums for your air duct. Technicians thoroughly clean all of your ducts, often taking multiple passes to get all of the contaminants. During the cleaning, technicians also look for more severe damage. One of the biggest offenders is mold, which accumulates if moisture gathers in your air ducts for long periods. Another common issue is small animals making nests within your ducts. Both of these options require a deeper clean and additional safety equipment to get rid of.

While cleaning your ducts is important, scheduling too many cleanings can actually cause damage. How often you get your ducts clean largely depends on your house. As long as your ducts are properly sealed and you change your filters, you will not need regular cleanings. Air ducts are commonly examined as part of HVAC maintenance. If the technician believes the ducts are dirty, he or she may recommend cleaning. The cost varies based on the company and size of your home, but on average it costs between $270 to $500 for duct cleaning.

Dirty Duct Warning Signs

Mold is the most notable warning sign your air ducts are dirty, but there are other issues to look for. Another warning sign is if your duct starts spewing dust. This may sound obvious, but it can be hard to catch. Dirty ducts will not constantly spray dust. Instead, it comes off in small puffs, which quickly disperse around your house. You may notice a buildup of dust directly underneath your vents, but this could also be from other sources.

If your ducts get clogged, the airflow may change around your house. The airflow throughout your house should always be the same. If you notice drastic differences from room to room, there may be a blockage within the vent. Blocked ducts can also lead to an increase in your heating and cooling bill.

While it is not a traditional warning sign, many HVAC experts recommend getting your ducts looked at after a major repair or construction to your home. Renovations create plenty of debris, sending dust, dirt and other particles into the air. In such large quantities, it is common for ducts to pull in more contaminants and develop blocks.


DUCTZ offers other HVAC services, but they are specialized in both commercial and residential air duct cleaning. While they are a newer company, they quickly earned a reliable reputation. The company quickly expanded, opening branches throughout the United States. The company has strict training requirements for their employees. They also provide more thorough cleanings, using negative air pressure and sealing techniques to blow out any stubborn debris lingering after a normal cleaning.


AdvantaClean is one of the largest HVAC duct cleaners in the state, with over 200 locations to choose from. While the company does general cleaning, they are most recognized for dealing with mold. All of the employees follow cleaning standards set by both the NADCA and IICRC. Technicians are trained to not only identify mold problems, but perform a deep cleaning to safely remove all traces of mold from your ducts. They can also spot if the mold has spread to other areas of your home. The company uses a satisfaction guaranteed model, checking with clients at the end of the cleaning to ensure they are satisfied with the results.

Stanley Steemer 

Stanley Steemer performs many cleaning services, but many customers are unaware they also offer air duct services. All of the staff are NADCA-certified, and 24/7 services are available in the case of emergencies, such as mold detection. The company provides free inspections to ensure whether your vents actually need cleaning. They use multiple tools to weaken and soften the debris in your vents, pulling it all loose with a powerful vacuum. They are one of the pricier options, often costing closer to $500, but they are readily available in most locations and have some of the best HVAC technicians.