Should I Vacuum Before or After Duct Cleaning? - An Expert's Guide

We recommend unscrewing vents and vacuuming them thoroughly before getting into details of cleaning air ducts. The EPA does not recommend routine cleaning but suggests inspecting furnace before each heating season for proper functioning. Learn more about when shoul

Should I Vacuum Before or After Duct Cleaning? - An Expert's Guide

We recommend unscrewing the vents, vacuuming them thoroughly and putting the hose into the duct as much as possible to suck up any loose dust or dirt. This is an important first step, so be sure to use a vacuum before getting into the details of cleaning. You can consider cleaning the air ducts simply because it seems logical that they will become dirty over time and need to be cleaned from time to time. As long as the cleaning is done correctly, there is no evidence to suggest that such cleaning is harmful.The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not suggest that air ducts be cleaned routinely, but only when necessary.

However, they do recommend that if you have a furnace, stove, or fireplace that burns fuel, it should be inspected for proper functioning and maintained before each heating season to protect it against carbon monoxide poisoning. Changing air filters frequently is the best way to keep dust, allergens, and other particles out of your home. With a newly installed system or a system in a house you just moved to, check the filter once a month to determine how quickly it gets dirty at different times of the year. Most need to be replaced every two to three months.So how often should you clean your air ducts? Simply put, only as often as a serious problem occurs, such as the presence of mold in the air ducts, which can cause mold spores to enter living areas of the house.

This can cause allergic-type symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, watery eyes, and other respiratory problems. If you notice a musty or musty smell every time your boiler or air conditioner is running, call a professional HVAC or duct cleaning company. Mold grows in damp or wet areas, so if there's mold in the ducts, in addition to cleaning them, you'll need to find the source of the moisture, perhaps a leaking pipe, and repair it.This is because much of the dirt that can accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. However, duct cleaning usually doesn't change the quality of the air you breathe, nor will it significantly affect airflows or heating costs.

Although they are not always part of their basic cleaning services, many duct cleaning companies also often clean heating and cooling equipment (heat exchangers, cooling coils, condensate drain vessels, fan motors, blades and fan housings).Manufacturers of products marketed to coat and encapsulate duct surfaces claim that these sealants prevent dust and dirt particles from inside air ducts from being released into the air. This is because much of the dirt in the air ducts adheres to the duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. Government studies from both the United States and Canada and health professionals who have researched duct cleaning fail to recommend its use but neither do they support it as a routine measure. While many of these products can be legally used inside unlined ducts if all instructions on the label are followed, some of the instructions on the label may be inappropriate for use in ducts.While duct cleaning operations may insist that duct cleaning is essential to your health, the evidence doesn't support their claims.

Start by identifying if your ducts are part of the problem (they probably aren't) and if cleaning them will help (it probably won't). Sealants should never be used on wet lining of ducts, to cover actively growing mold or cover dirt in ducts and should only be applied after cleaning in accordance with NADCA or other appropriate guidelines or regulations. Most organizations that deal with duct cleaning, including EPA, NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association), NAIMA (North American Insulation Manufacturers Association), and SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association), do not currently recommend routine use of sealants to encapsulate contaminants in any type of duct.Ducts exit ovens and pass through basements, mezzanines and walls to reach every room and cleaning them involves vacuuming up dust and dirt and removing mold (if any). Whether or not you decide to clean your home's air ducts it's essential to commit to a good preventive maintenance program to minimize duct contamination.

Preventing water and dirt from entering system is most effective way to prevent contamination (see How To Prevent Duct Contamination). Although it intuitively makes sense to clean the ducts - after all we dust off and clean other parts of our homes - in reality most dust that settles in ventilation systems stays put unless disturbed.

Marcy Tischler
Marcy Tischler

Devoted travel evangelist. Infuriatingly humble twitter ninja. Avid web enthusiast. Typical organizer. Unapologetic pop culture practitioner.

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