Do My Air Ducts Need Cleaning?

An Enercare technician stands outside of a home.

Do My Air Ducts Need Cleaning?

Your home should be a comfortable place with clean air free of dust and other irritants. If you have a central heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, a lot of that air will be circulated through your home’s air ducts — and you might wonder if those ducts need to be cleaned to make sure you’re not inhaling anything you shouldn’t.

The fact is, ducts in a properly installed and maintained HVAC system usually don’t need to be cleaned very often. However, there are certain issues, such as mould, rodents, insects, or excessive dust or debris build-up, that can only be addressed with a thorough cleaning. But these issues can easily hide deep inside your ductwork where you can’t see them, so it’s important to know what signs to look for that might indicate that it’s time for a duct cleaning.

10 Ways to Check if Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning

By incorporating the following checks into your regular HVAC maintenance, you’ll be able to identify and address any potential issues with your air ducts as soon as possible.

Look Inside the Vent Covers

Most vent covers can be easily removed with just a screwdriver. Some dust is OK, but a significant build-up of dirt might call for an AC duct cleaning.

Look at the Return Air Registers

Return air registers often look dusty or grimy because they pull dust-laden air back into the HVAC system. Yet while a lot of that dirt remains trapped on the registers themselves, that does not necessarily reflect the condition of the air inside the ducts to a large extent. You will notice dust around the grill area, you can easily vacuum or clean the registers as required.

Check the Air Filter

Cleaning and replacing your air filters is a critical part of your HVAC maintenance routine that needs to be done about every three months. But if you find your filters are getting clogged much faster than that, it could be a sign that your ducts should be cleaned.

Pay Attention to Strange Odours

If your home smells unpleasant and you can’t identify another source, take a good sniff at each vent. If it smells musty, it could be the smell of bad odour from turning on your furnace for the first time, which means your ducts might need cleaning. Bad smells can also be a sign of a rodent infestation. If that’s the case, have your ducts cleaned as soon as possible because rodents not only smell unpleasant but can spread germs and cause other problems. In fact, if you’ve had a rodent problem anywhere in your home, it’s a good idea to have your ducts cleaned once the infestation is resolved to ensure they’re clear of unwanted guests.

Listen for Noise From the Vents

All HVAC systems make some noise. If you’ve lived with yours for a while, you’re probably familiar with the particular sounds it makes. New sounds, particularly if they come from the ducts or vents rather than from the HVAC unit itself, should be investigated, as they could indicate a change or other problem with your ducts.

Watch for Mould or Mildew

Any signs of mould or mildew in your home should be addressed immediately, as some types can cause serious health problems. Schedule an AC duct cleaning as soon as possible, even if you spotted the mould somewhere else, as your HVAC system can blow spores all over your home. After your ducts have been cleaned, be sure to follow up with a complete professional inspection of your HVAC system. Mould growth is a sign that moisture is getting into the system where it doesn’t belong. If you don’t identify and resolve the issue, the mould will come back.

Watch for Excess Dust

Dust is a fact of life, so dust build-up in or around your vents is not necessarily a sign that your ducts need to be cleaned. In many cases, dust inside your ducts sticks to the inside surfaces of the ducts and doesn’t actually get blown into your living space. However, if you see puffs of dust when your HVAC system first turns on, a cleaning might be in order.

Debris from Home Renovations

If you have completed your home renovations, be mindful of the debris that gets “sucked’ into the duct work. The debris may build-up in and impact your air filter from working properly, and you might need your ducts cleaned.

Have a Routine HVAC Maintenance Inspection

As part of your regular maintenance, your HVAC technician should examine the condition of all components of your HVAC system, including looking for signs of excessive dust, debris and other dirt. They can let you know if a full duct cleaning is recommended.

Maintain Your Home’s Air Ducts With Professional Expertise From Enercare

While you can easily clean some pieces of your HVAC system yourself (like vent covers and air filters), cleaning the ducts is a major undertaking that is best left to professionally trained technicians. If you need your AC ducts cleaned, our team will do a complete cleaning of your hot and cold air systems, and finish with a 100% natural anti-bacterial spray to take care of any bacteria, mould or fungal spores that might be present.