How Are Air Ducts Cleaned

October 7, 2023

How Are Air Ducts Cleaned? A Step-by-step Guide

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Were you aware that the indoor air quality could be three to five times worse than the air you breathe outside? We all need clean air to breathe and live a little longer. Ensuring the air you breathe is clean and free from contaminants is crucial for maintaining a healthy indoor environment. 

One often-overlooked aspect of achieving this is proper maintenance of the heating/cooling system, particularly for air duct cleaning. 

It can have an impact on the indoor air quality and efficiency of your HVAC system. Over time, dust, dirt, allergens, and even mold can accumulate within the ductwork, leading to various health and performance issues.

It's crucial to understand how air ducts are cleaned to ensure your HVAC system operates at its best. Here, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning the air ducts. We shed light on the other aspects of it as well. 

Air Duct Cleaning- What is it?

Indoor air quality is a concern that often flies under the radar for many individuals. Increasingly overwhelmed by pollution, the demand for air purifiers has surged. In this context, the importance of air duct cleaning has also come to the forefront.

Cleaning the ducts is vital to maintain a healthy indoor environment. It involves the comprehensive cleaning of the entire duct system, which has the supply, intake, and return vents. This process employs professional air duct cleaning equipment to effectively remove dust, debris, allergens, and potentially harmful contaminants accumulating over time.

 Air duct cleaning may extend to other components of the HVAC system in addition to ductwork. It can include cleaning the registers, fans, grills, and even the HVAC unit itself. This service can also involve cleaning that essential heating component for those with a furnace. 

Fortunately, some companies specialize in providing air duct cleaning services. You can hire them periodically to ensure your indoor air quality remains at its best. It would provide a healthier and more comfortable living space. 

Equipment Needed To Clean Air Ducts

Cleaning the air ducts is not an easy task. It requires a professional knowledge and tools to do so. There are some handheld instruments and heavy machines to clean the air duct.

Moreover, air duct cleaners have various inspection tools. Each serves a specific purpose in ensuring cleanliness and functionality. These tools can vary from a basic mirror to more advanced equipment.

It includes periscopes or CCTV camera systems with flexible cables designed to reach the hard-to-access sections of the ducts. Inspection tools come into play, particularly during issues such as clogs or persistent foul odors emanating from the vents. 

Professionals rely on some fundamental tools for the actual air duct cleaning process. These include brushes, vacuums, and other agitation devices designed to dislodge and remove accumulated dust and debris. 

Two types of vacuum collecting devices are NADCA standard in any professional or personal sphere- 

  • Truck- and trailer-mounted
  • Equipment
  • Portable tools

The trailer or truck-mounted tool is generally more powerful than the potable one. They suck the debris from the location using a hose attached to the ductwork.

However, people can bring a portable one into the facility easily. It allows the vacuum source to become closer to the ductwork. The biggest portable vacuum has a 5,000 cubic feet per minute suction power. 

Both kinds have their pros and cons. You need to weigh them according to your needs. In addition to the above two, professionals also use air compressors and disinfectants.

Further reading: know the difference between disinfection & sanitization.

The NADCA suggests cleaning not just the air ducts but these following components too- 

  • coils
  • registers
  • drain pan
  • grills
  • blower motor and assembly
  • air plenum
  • heat exchanger
  • air cleaner
  • air filter

Incorrect cleaning methods can inadvertently dislodge pollutants and debris. It may cause them to flow back into your living space through the air ducts. Through the correct method, the professionals safely extract them using the specialized techniques employed by professionals.

It's best to get air ducts professionally cleaned to ensure a thorough and without causing unintended consequences.

How Are Air Ducts Cleaned Professionally? – A Step by Step Process

If you are wondering how to clean out air ducts properly, here is a step-by-step process for you. We would genuinely advise you to seek professional cleaning help as cleaning air ducts are tricky. If you hire trained cleaning staff, here’s what goes into the cleaning process- 

Step 1- Inspection of the Ducts

The first step in getting the air ducts cleaned is to check them. The professionals should inspect the ducts leading to supply and return registers. This step is vital for two main reasons- 


To see the buildup level in the ducts and verify the distinction after the cleaning process. You may come across some cleaning professionals who use cameras to assess the extent of buildup in the duct. 


Professional air duct cleaning is a chance to assess the ductwork for any kinks or leaks in flexible ducts. In this step, they can also repair or replace damaged ductwork. 

Step 2-The Negative Pressure

The air duct cleaning professionals may use truck-mounted vacuums, or portable vacuums to suck debris and dust from the ductwork. But before suction and scrubbing the ducts, technicians should do the following- 

Connecting the vacuum hose

Initially, the technicians should connect the large hose to the duct leading to the air handler. It is the main part of your heating and cooling system. Sometimes, they may have to cut an access hole in the duct to securely insert the vacuum hose. After the completion, the technician ensures they seal the hole properly. 

Sealing the registers

After the hose connection, the technician should use adhesive to seal each register. It is important as even the most powerful vacuum collection could fail if the registers remain uncovered. 

Activating the vacuum unit

With all the preparatory steps complete, professionals should activate the vacuum unit. It establishes negative pressure in the ductwork. As a result, the dust is collected in the device as they become loose, due to the blow and brush effect. 

Step 3- Agitate dust

Once the negative pressure is in the system, professionals uncover each register. They will then clean the ducts one at a time.

We think you should find an experienced cleaning team known for fast and efficient work. They use rotating brushes, simple vacuum cleaners, and compressed air tools to ensure it sucks everything in the collection device.  

An improperly trained professional may move forward after a speedy brush in the air compressor and drops of disinfectant.

Step 4- HVAC System and Furnace Cleaning

After the completion of the ducts and vents cleaning, the HVAC system undergoes a comprehensive inspection. This inspection involves components such as the air blower motor, furnace, drain pan, evaporator coil, and other vital elements. These parts come under the standard NADCA standards. 

The technicians are responsible for maintaining a clean workspace and ensuring dust-free space. Furthermore, they should offer a walkthrough to see how the air quality and system performance have improved.

This commitment to cleanliness and transparency is part of the professional service you can expect.

Air Duct Maintenance Tips

There are certain things your service provider needs to remember regarding maintaining the air duct. Every day, the commercial air spaces carry cool and warm air, so it would be good to observe proper maintenance. Just cleaning them is insufficient. One needs to deal with these subtle changes. 

 Here are a few tips-

1. Schedule a duct test 

To ensure the cooling and heating system fires on all cylinders, consider testing the pressure in the duct system. Doing so will help you know about air leaks and show the balance required in the system.

2. Use high-efficiency air filter

The staff should follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the highest-efficiency air filter suitable for the heating and cooling system. It helps improve indoor air quality and system efficiency.

3. Replace air filters regularly

Changing the air filters regularly as recommended by the manufacturer or your professional. It ensures that your system can operate efficiently and maintain good air quality.

4. Change filters if clogged

 If the staff notices the filters become clogged or dirty, let them change more frequently. The clogged filters can hinder airflow and strain your system.

5. Request cooling coil and drain pan cleaning

Ask for cooling coil, and drain pan cleaning when scheduling air duct maintenance. It helps maintain system efficiency.

6. Seal off the supply and return registers

During construction or renovation work that generates dust in commercial spaces, air duct cleaners should seal off the supply and return registers. Also, people should refrain from operating their heating and cooling systems until they clear the dust to prevent contamination.

Regular air duct cleaning is about ensuring the health and well-being of your family. You also reduce expenses, extend the life of your HVAC system, and create a comfortable breathing environment.  

Benefits Of Duct Cleaning 

Many American buildings have a proper heating and cooling system that needs continuous maintenance. You should get the air ducts cleaned once every two or three years, but it largely depends on the use.

There are several benefits of a clean workspace. Let’s see why it's good to clean air ducts. Here are a few advantages- 

Raised Lifespan

No one wants their heating or cooling system to have a shorter shelf life than intended. After all, you have invested a lot of money in it. 

One of the primary benefits of regularly cleaning your air ducts is the potential to extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. When debris, dust, and contaminants collect in the ductwork, it can force your heating and cooling system to work harder. 

The increased strain can lead to premature wear and tear on your system's components, reducing its overall lifespan.

You can help your HVAC system operate more efficiently by keeping your air ducts clean. It reduces the risk of breakdowns and the need for costly repairs or replacements. 

Eliminating Disease Contamination

No one wants to fall sick just because there was poor maintenance of air ducts. Air ducts can become breeding grounds for harmful microorganisms. There can be bacteria, viruses, and mold. Light amounts of dust are okay everywhere.  

When these contaminants are present in your ducts, they can be circulated throughout the space every time your HVAC system runs. You are inviting problems that could potentially affect everyone's health.

Once you get the air conditioning ducts cleaned, it helps eliminate the disease-causing agents. It reduces the risk of respiratory problems, allergies, and other health issues associated with poor indoor air quality. 

So, to reduce illness levels or absenteeism at the workplace, ensure the air ducts are clean. It will be better for everyone. 

Hygiene without Allergens 

Recent studies show how allergens are the primary cause of ill health among many. Up to 40% of the world’s population suffers from allergies and diseases related to it, like asthma. The figures will increase in the future. 

Dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and other allergens are likely to accumulate in your air ducts. It aggravates allergies and asthma symptoms among family members. Cleaning your air ducts removes these allergens, leading to a healthier indoor environment.

Those with allergies or respiratory conditions often notice significant improvements in their symptoms after a thorough duct cleaning. It allows for a more comfortable and enjoyable living space.  

No Foul Smell 

Imagine entering a room or workplace setting where there is a peculiar smell. It may make you take a step back or get out. No one wants to feel that way! 
Over time, dust, rubbish, and mold can add to horrible odors circulating through. These odors can be particularly noticeable when your HVAC system is running.

Therefore, cleaning your air ducts helps eliminate these foul smells. It leaves the space smelling fresher and more inviting. Isn’t that a perfect advantage? 
It's especially beneficial if you've noticed musty or stale odors in your living spaces. We think you should call professional duct cleaners to do the needful. 

Why Hire Professionals For Air Duct Cleaning? 

Now that you know how to clean air ducts, let’s focus on why you should hire a suitable air duct cleaning company. We have good reasons why hiring a certified professional is better for you than inexperienced duct cleaners. 

1. Safer than DIY

One may understand how to clean air ducts diy, but we strongly think it’s a bad idea. Since professionals know the technical part of the cleaning process, they should handle it. There are various damage possibilities while cleaning, which would be difficult when doing it yourself.

Professionals know the tricks of the trade and make air duct cleaning more effective. Hence, we recommend choosing the best duct cleaning services.

2. Experience leading to best results

Over time, your air duct system accumulates dirt and contaminants. It hinders its efficiency and indoor air quality. As the air duct becomes dirtier, one would require deep cleaning of the air ducts.

It may involve using chemicals that can potentially harm indoor air quality. That’s why it is crucial to seek the services of a professional with the necessary experience, skills, and knowledge of proper cleaning techniques.

An expert will ensure they thoroughly clean the air ducts without compromising their structural integrity or causing environmental hazards. A properly cleaned air duct system will ultimately provide a continuous supply of fresh and clean indoor air.

3. All ducts aren’t similar

Did you know there are various types of air ducts?

Since the ducts may have subtle dissimilarities, a professional duct cleaner should handle the process.

The cleaning methods for every duct may differ, leading to mistakes by a layperson. Hence, hire a professional and save your energy. 

4. No additional expenses on equipment

Opting for professional commercial cleaning services for air ducts leads to cost savings. Cleaning air ducts effectively demands the use of expensive, high-quality equipment.

If you self-clean your air ducts, you invest in these tools, which can result in significant expenses.  

In summary, DIY air duct cleaning can consume valuable time, energy, and financial resources.

Therefore, hire a top commercial cleaning company in NYC for a thorough outcome. It may take time to find a suitable one, but it will all be worth it. 

Cleaning The Air Ducts Impressively!

Hiring a professional service to get air conditioning ducts cleaned for the best results is imperative. These highly-trained cleaners are individuals whose mastery and knowledge shine brilliantly. With access to an array of specialized equipment, they get the AC air ducts cleaned in minimum time. 

What's more? Professionals guarantee efficiency and thoroughness in their work like no other. 

For these reasons, look no further than Sterling Cleaning. It includes a team of proficient and meticulous cleaners. Our team checks, repairs, and cleans the air ducts within the standard guidelines. 

Waste no time, for we offer perfection in service at a remarkably reasonable price point. We ensure to meet your every commercial cleaning need with the utmost satisfaction. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does cleaning air ducts make a difference? 

Duct cleaning makes a huge difference in the quality of airflow if done thoroughly. Cleaning the air duct ensures the buildup is cleared and the flow of air is also smooth and uninterrupted. Air duct cleaning also prevents allergens from circulating throughout the home and creates healthier conditions. 

What steps should I take to get my air ducts ready for cleaning? 

The best ways to get the air ducts ready for cleaning include the following:
   • Clear everything around the vents, ensuring the technicians can easily reach them.
   • Ensure the furnace and AC units are accessible.
   • Plan to keep your pets away from the cleaning area.
   • Make sure the elders of the family, or unhealthy people stay out of the house till the cleaning process is complete.

2. Which air duct cleaning method is considered the most effective? 

Source removal, negative pressure, air sweep, and mechanical agitation methods are the best air duct cleaning methods. Each of these methods is effective in delivering the best results. However, the negative pressure air duct cleaning method is considered the most efficient and effective one.

3. Will air duct cleaning create a mess? 

If proper and necessary precautions are taken, before and during the process, the air duct cleaning might create a mess. The air ducts are filled with dust, debris, and other contaminants. During the cleaning process, these contaminants are distributed, causing a mess. To prevent such a mess, take necessary precautionary measures and cover all your furniture around the vents. 

 4. How can I determine when it's time to clean my air ducts? 

Several signs ensure it’s time for you to clean your air ducts. Some signs are mentioned below:
   • Vents and ducts are clogged with dust/debris
   • Air filters are clogged
   • Unpleasant odors from dust
   • Poor airflow in the house
   • Pest/insect infestation in air ducts
   • Unusual noise in the ductwork

5. Does air duct cleaning have a noticeable impact on indoor air quality? 

Air ducts capture dust particles and other contaminants. Regular cleaning of the air ducts ensures the prevention of contaminant transmission around your house. It also ensures a noticeable impact on improving the air quality and flow indoors. 

6. How long does it take to clean air ducts? 

The air duct cleaning process requires different times. It takes anywhere between an hour and a full day. The time taken for the cleaning process depends on various factors, including the size of the vent or the number of vents. 

7. How much does it cost to clean air ducts? 

The cost of air duct cleaning varies from one service provider to another. However, for the average size of your air duct, you can expect the cost to be around $90 to $125 per hour. 

8. How often should you clean air ducts? 

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends air duct cleaning every three to five years. The need for commercial air duct cleaning is much more than the residential one.

9. How to clean air ducts by yourself?

The air duct cleaning process is time-consuming and requires you to put in a lot of effort. However, it is not too difficult to clean the air vents all by yourself. This is true for residential air ducts. If you are planning to clean the air ducts of a commercial place, it is always advisable to take the assistance of a professional air duct cleaner. 

10. Can duct cleaning eliminate mold from air ducts? 

Yes, air duct cleaning helps eliminate the presence of mold from the air ducts. It is known to all that the molds are detrimental to human health, and the cleaning process ensures proper hygiene and cleanliness in and around the mold from air ducts.

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