Can I Do My Own Duct Cleaning Services? - A Guide for DIY Homeowners

At On Time Home Services, we generally recommend that you first do a professional test of your ducts to see if they need to be cleaned and then hire a professional to do the necessary cleaning. However, some DIY homeowners handle the task themselves. Yes, you can clean your own ducts, but it is important to keep in mind that regular air duct cleaning services with a professional HVAC technician are necessary to keep your system in the best possible condition. Here are some tips on how to clean the air ducts between professional services yourself. Over time, air conditioning ducts usually accumulate dust, pet hair, dirt, and pollen.

Sometimes, ducts develop mold or trap larger objects, such as construction debris, vermin, or insects. Self-duct cleaning allows you to clean your home's HVAC supply and return vents at a much lower cost than professional duct cleaning. While some companies may claim that duct cleaning is essential to health, the evidence doesn't support their claims. Companies that perform duct cleaning often advertise health benefits or suggest that duct cleaning will reduce your energy bills by improving the efficiency of your system. However, there is no data to support these claims.

Even if your ducts are dirty, cleaning them probably won't provide any measurable benefit. In fact, the little independent research done on duct cleaning indicates that the process removes so much dust that it creates a bigger problem than it solves. Whether you decide to clean your home's air ducts or not, it's essential to commit to a good preventive maintenance program to minimize duct contamination. Duct cleaning methods vary, although industry associations that deal with air duct cleaning have established standards. However, duct cleaning doesn't usually change the quality of the air you breathe, nor will it significantly affect air flows or heating costs. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or your heating and cooling system, which could increase your heating and air conditioning costs or force you to make difficult and expensive repairs or replacements. In addition, the service provider may propose the application of chemical biocides, designed to remove microbiological contaminants, inside ducts and in other components of the system. You've probably seen an advertisement, received a coupon in the mail, or a company contacted you directly to offer to clean your air ducts as a means of improving your home's indoor air quality.

If the house smells damp when you turn on the air conditioning system or if you smell rodent droppings, clean the air ducts immediately. If you think duct cleaning on your own isn't for you, there are plenty of accredited, NADCA certified cleaning companies available. Whether you decide to clean your home's air ducts or not, preventing water and dirt from entering the system is the most effective way to avoid contamination (see How to Prevent Duct Contamination). However, there is little evidence that cleaning only the ducts improves system efficiency. If you think duct cleaning might be a good idea for your home but you're not sure, talk to a professional. Manufacturers of products marketed to coat and encapsulate duct surfaces claim that these sealants prevent dust and dirt particles inside air ducts from being released into the air.

This is because much of the dirt in the air ducts adheres to the surfaces of the ducts and does not necessarily enter the living space. Cases in which the use of sealants to encapsulate duct surfaces may be appropriate include repairing damaged fiberglass insulation or fighting fire damage within the ducts. Even if you are cleaning the air ducts yourself, it is recommended that you hire an air conditioning technician to professionally clean your home's air ducts at least once a year.