Should You get Your Ducts Cleaned?

hvac ducts

The short answer is no. There are minimal circumstances that would require you to have your ducts cleaned. However, suppose you have a significant cause for cleaning your ducts. In that case, there is a problem with your duct system, and any issues need to be diagnosed and repaired by a qualified HVAC contractor to prevent a recurring issue.

If you ask the National Air Duct Cleaners Association or any local air duct cleaning services, they will tell you that you need regular duct cleaning. They may sell you on the idea that clear air ducts can help with respiratory problems or energy bills through increased energy efficiency. It’s not true.

The indoor air quality of your living space may indeed have pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, and other particles that can lead to allergic reactions or health problems. In addition, some homeowners feel they have excessive amounts of dust. However, it is not likely that cleaning your air duct system will help this. In fact, it can make it worse.

Ducts Generally Do not Affect the Quality of The Air in Your Home.

If there is dust and dirt in your ducts, it is inert or plated out. In simpler terms, it is not going to move. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency performed studies that showed not only did dirty air ducts not affect the indoor air quality but that frequent cleanings actually made the air quality worse. This is because the agitation inside the HVAC ducts from the rotary brush cabling system that “professional cleaning” companies use causes the inert dust to become airborne and distributed into the home.

If you want to improve the air quality in your home, choosing suitable filters and replacing them often is more effective. In addition, proper filters and prompt replacement also protect the other components of your heating and air conditioner system. For example, dust and dirt in your system can get clogged in the blower motor, heat exchangers, and evaporator coils.

Check out our comprehensive guide for choosing the best air filters for your home.

Clean Air Ducts Do not Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your System

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association makes a dubious about claim about getting your ducts cleaned on its website:

“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted…When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the desired temperature. As a result, you use less energy, improving cost-effectiveness.”

However, no studies or evidence support the claim that clean ducts would save any of that energy. The most lost energy is through leaks in the system, insufficient insulation on the HVAC components, and the heat being exhausted outdoors when using gas or oil. It is a good idea to have your entire HVAC system cleaned for maximum efficiency, but more importantly, to prolong the system’s life and prevent expensive repairs.

Cleaning Your Ducts Can Damage Your Ducts

Various materials have been used over the years to construct air ducts. Traditionally they were made of metal, then duct board, and now almost all new homes have soft plastic flexible ducts. These soft ducts connect to metal air vents where they connect to the ceiling, walls, or floors. It is possible that a service provider could damage these ducts while trying to clean them.

cleaning hvac ducts can actually damage them

When Should Ducts be Cleaned

Sometimes, your ducts do need to be cleaned. This could be when your ducts have been infested by pests, a leak or flood caused water damage or substantial visible mold growth, or the ducts were not sealed of during a large remodeling project.

Sometimes it’s just the supply registers. My registers are in the floor and I have four kids. The supply registers get nasty. Luckily, I have an 8 and 12 year old who are very capable with a shop vacuum cleaner . I have them clean the supply registers and that’s it.

If your ducts need to be cleaned, they need to be repaired. You should never have your ducts cleaned without finding out why you have dirty ducts in the first place.

supply registers may need to be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner

How to Find Professional Duct Cleaning Services

If you do decide to get your ducts cleaned, make sure you choose a reputable company.

Never ever choose a company offering cheap duct cleaning services. It generally costs about $400-$1000 or more to have your ducts cleaned. If you see a deal for $79, or $119 it’s probably a scam.

“After the technician arrives, he will perform an inspection on the ducts and then approach you with the terrible news. You have BLACK MOLD in your ducts. He may even have a “test” to show you. Of course, the price you paid doesn’t include remediation of the mold, and the new price is in the ballpark of $1100.

We perform mold testing, and we use a third-party laboratory to analyze our samples. Not once have we ever found “black mold”. It is a term used to invoke fear, and fear sells. Sometimes they bring a fake mold test, and use language like “level 2 contamination.” It is just an attempt to sell you on a service you don’t need.”

Use Google Reviews, ask your friends, or give me a call. Ask them if they’re going to examine the system to see what improvements need to be made to prevent future cleanings. If they say you have a mold problem ALWAYS get a second opinion from a third party specializing only in mold or environmental testing.


Your ducts don’t need regular cleaning. There is no evidence that clean ductwork results in cleaner air or improved energy efficiency. If you do have ducts that need to be cleaned, you need to figure out what compromised the system and have that addressed. Never hire cheap service providers.