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How often should you get your air ducts and vents cleaned?

Updated on April 14, 2015

Before and After


How often you get your air duct system cleaned all depends on your home. Many things play into the frequency of getting your furnace and duct system professionally cleaned by a reputable company. Do you research and ask lots of questions before booking an appointment with any company. Cheap duct cleaning companies do a lot of bait and switch tactics as well as try to pressure up-sell you. In addition, those companies add a service charge of $12-14 for "Waste disposal".

  • How much is your air duct system used?
  • How much carpet do you have?
  • Does anyone in your household have allergies?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you live in the city or country?
  • Do you burn candles or have a fire lit often?

If your air duct system is used more often, the air is circulated through the system and the ducts get dirty with dust, pollen, and pet fur and dander. If you rarely use your system then the air is not circulated through the system and that dirt, dust and etc just stays in the rooms it has settled in. The air is not being filtered or properly humidified if you do not run your system often enough. That is when your air becomes stagnant.

The more carpet you have the less dirt, dust and other things are floating around on your floor and being moved around. The less carpet you have the more often you need to have your duct system cleaned. Carpet acts like a filter for your air. Things get trapped in the carpet until you vacuum it out. When you have hard floors of any sort the dirt, dust and etc move around freely and is being sucked into the cold air returns into your duct system. You can even find areas where dust bunnies gather due to the air flow of the home.

Allergies play a big part in how often you get your duct system cleaned. If someone in your household has allergies they need clean air. Removing dirt, dust and etc help to alleviate allergy problems. This is done by cleaning the duct system and it's filter more frequently.

Pets bring in fur and dander into your home. They also track more dirt and pollen into your home if they go outdoors. As they shed fur and dander it goes on the floor. It can then fall into your hot air vents or sucked through your system in by the cold air returns. If you have dirty ducts then the the fur and dander just sit in the ducts and the air running through the system just get recirculated into your home. If it falls back into your hot air vents it can then be blown back out when your system is running.

It is recommended to get your ducts professionally cleaned by a reputable company every 18-24 months. If anyone in your household has allergies or you have pets that shed it is best to get it done every 9-12 months. Some people do it every 6 months. Others do it every 2-3 years.

More detailed recommendations:

24 months - No pets, no allergies and carpeting

18-24 months - No pets, no allergies and hardwood floors

12-18 months – Pets, no allergies and carpeting

12–18 months – No pets, allergies, hardwood floors

12 months – Pets, no allergies and hardwood floors

12 months – Pets, allergies, carpeting

6 months – Pets, allergies, hardwood floors

Regular cleaning helps with air quality, work of the system and money saving usage. You will have less allergies and dust in the home. As well as your system won't have to work so hard to blow air through the duct work putting pressure on the motor and less cost and more effectiveness when the system is running.

It is best to use your duct system to circulate the air, keep the humidity at optimal levels and filter the air through a clean air filter. Disposable filters are cheap and work the best. Change your filter every 3 months if no one in your household has allergies or monthly if they do. Also change your air filter more often if you have multiple pets and if they have long hair and shed a lot. Washable filters don't always do the best job. When you wash them you might not always get all the dust and pollen and such out of them. Be sure to run your system if you do use a washable filter so that it can be dried, if not it can create bacteria that would later be blown into your home. With a disposable filter you know it is clean each time you put it into your furnace.

It is also good to get your duct system sanitized on a regular basis by a qualified professional. I have a 15 step process posted on how to know that your ducts were properly sanitized. Remember that bacteria and mold grow in dark, damp and enclosed places. Your duct system is an enclosed area that is optimal for mold and bacteria to flourish

Other times to get your ducts cleaned:

  • After renovations
  • After fumigation
  • After a severe pollen season
  • When purchasing a home - especially a newly built home (you would be surprised what is found in the ducts of a newly built home)
  • After a house fire - smoke and what was burned is toxic


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    • dagwood01 profile image

      Power Vac Toronto 

      5 years ago from Toronto

      Your article has some good reasons to clean the HVAC system

      Nadca Suggests that the system be inspected annually. The best way to inspect the system is to remove the return grille and have a look inside. If there is no dust particulate visible to the human eye than you should be ok for another year.


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