A few years ago, my cousin and her family purchased a fantastic home in an ideal location. Spacious rooms, beautiful yards, great school district– they were thrilled.
The only downfall was that the previous owners were indoor smokers. My cousin stripped the carpets, sealed the cement floors, and repainted the walls.
Still, the residual smoke smell persisted. They were perplexed. What had they overlooked? Alas, the answer lay in an often ignored portion of the home’s layout: the air ducts!
Due to the way air circulates through your A/C vents, air ducts collect literally everything in your home environment. Yet, it’s so easy to neglect this hidden space and forget it needs occasional cleaning just like the rest of your home.
What Ends up Inside an Air Duct?
You may be a bit surprised at what all can accumulate in these small spaces, getting redistributed throughout your home and in the air you breathe.
- Pet hair and dander
- Dead skin cells (yes, we shed too!)
- Dust mites
- Tiny food particles
- Smoke residue from cigarettes, candles, incense, etc.
- Pollen and other plant-based allergens
- Chemical residue from common household cleaners
And what about humid regions with more airborne moisture?
- Moisture-loving bacteria
This is what you’re breathing, what your children and pets are breathing. As we mentioned before, all these tiny particles get redistributed throughout your home- 5 to 7 times per day!
The fact that these substances, which you would never choose to breath in if you can help it, are floating through the air- that’s bad enough. But they’re also settling onto literally every surface you use. Carpet, furniture, countertops, even your toothbrush and cookware- all are succeptible to these airborne particulates.
How Often Should I Clean my Air Ducts?
The information you just read may sound super scary and unsanitary. Who wants to breathe in all that junk, or have it covering all the surfaces in your home?
The truth is, it really takes awhile for these things to build up to a harmful level. Our bodies do an amazing job of combatting unwanted substances. But getting your air ducts cleaned is still a chore every homeowner- or even any renter- wants to invest in every 3 to 5 years, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.
The air you breathe has a direct impact on your health. Let’s take a look at a few situations where it’s critical to keep your air ducts clean:
- Children or adults with asthma
- Any home resident who suffers from severe allergies
- People who regularly smoke indoors
- People with multiple pets
There are a few other circumstances in which it is wise to get your air ducts cleaned sooner than later, due to increased buildup of dust particles, mold, etc:
- Right after a new home is built
- Directly after a major renovations
- After any sort of significant water damage (due to the potential development of mold and mildew, caused by excess moisture)
- Any time the air from your A/C vent is visibly cloudy or has an odor
- Additional Considerations
How many hours per day do you and your family spend at home? For most of us, it’s about 10-16 hours, and maybe more on a lazy weekend.
Let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about the quality of the very air you breathe. Just in case the information we’ve already discussed isn’t enough to convince you that you deserve clean air ducts, we’ve got a couple more things for you to consider.
Have you ever had an infestation of any sort? Depending on where you live, your home may be succeptible to rats, flies, fruit flies, roaches, and other unsightly pests.
Well guess what. If these guys and their feces aren’t welcome on your floors and counters or in your pantries, then you certainly don’t want them in your air ducts. Enough said?
Furthermore, the world we live in is increasingly focused on energy conservation. Just like a clogged artery or a backed up water line, congested air ducts simply don’t work as efficiently as they should. The added labor brought on by built up particulates causes your system to work harder than it should, and you pay for it with higher energy bills.
- You’d be surprised at what your air ducts are collecting. Everything from pet dander to rat feces, food particles to chemical residue- this is what you’re breathing!
- Asthmatics, people with allergies, smokers, and pet owners should be especially mindful of cleaning their air ducts.
- New homes, renovations, water damage, and noticeable signs of dirty air are all valid reasons to get your air ducts cleaned as soon as possible.
- Pest issues and high energy use are also good reasons to improve the quality of your air and the functionality of your HVAC system.
Air ducts are cleaned by using a vacuum to remove the unwanted substances we’ve discussed, providing you clean and healthy air to breathe in your home. This is not a DIY project, so be sure you reach out to a trusted professional to get the job done right! You and your family deserve it.