HVAC Duct Cleanings—Do You Really Need One?

shutterstock_105887744Now that the weather is warming up, you may start seeing these deals a lot: “Air duct cleaning service for cheap! $69 for your whole house!”

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. Before agreeing to any heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) service, make sure it’s one that’s truly necessary, will be done correctly, and is performed by a licensed and qualified contractor.

What is a duct cleaning?

The service uses equipment such as vacuums and brushes to clean out the various HVAC heating and cooling system components such as supply and return air ducts and registers (vents), heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils, fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unity housing.

How do I know if my home needs a duct cleaning?

Chances are, your home probably doesn’t need one. Unless your ducts are extremely filthy, cleanings are generally not necessary.

A cleaning is recommended when your home’s ducts are contaminated; however, these are very specific situations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states instances in which you may need a duct cleaning:

  • Visible mold. If there is a large amount of visible mold growth in the ducts, the ducts and unit should be cleaned. Have the contractor show you the mold.
  • Vermin. If the ducts show signs of having vermin (e.g., rats and mice) in them, the animals need to be removed and the ducts cleaned.
  • Renovation. During a home remodel, the ducts may have significant amounts of dust and debris that get released into your home through your air vents.

If you think you need a duct cleaning, do the research before getting serviced. Thoroughly research the contractor and company to make sure they are licensed and qualified to perform the cleaning–check with the Contractors State License Board. And, as with all service offers, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Professional duct cleanings require many hours and several workers, and the EPA states that the service costs between $450 and $1,000.

So, whole-house air duct cleaning for $69? That’s a red flag that you mostly likely won’t get what you paid for.

For more information about whether your home needs a HVAC duct cleaning and on choosing a contractor, review the EPA publication Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? at www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html.

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