Is There a Good Way to Clean Your HVAC Ducts?

Duct cleaning in Kirkland, WA

Back in the 1950s, American homes began getting built with pre-installed ductwork to support forced air heating and cooling systems. It was nothing less than a revolution in home comfort that continues to this day. For the first time, homeowners could control their home’s indoor temperature year-round without standalone heaters or window air conditioners. However, forced air HVAC systems aren’t perfect. For one thing, they accumulate dust and dirt from all over your home as they operate. And although HVAC systems have air filters to mitigate that somewhat, your home’s ducts will eventually need a thorough cleaning. Failing to do that could destroy your home’s air quality and even lead to health complications. The trouble is that most homeowners don’t know how to clean their home’s air ducts. So, the experts here at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning decided to put together this guide on the best ways to keep your home’s HVAC ducts clean.

There’s No Substitute for Periodic Professional Duct Cleaning

Right at the outset, we’d like to point out that there’s really no substitute for a periodic professional duct cleaning service. The fact is that a professional HVAC technician has tools and experience that a homeowner doesn’t. When you call Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule a duct cleaning, one of our expert HVAC technicians will come to your home with a high-powered vacuum system capable of creating enough negative pressure to dislodge even the most stubborn dirt and dust from your home’s ducts.

To make certain they leave your ducts as clean as possible, they’ll also use brushes, compressed air tools, and a portable vacuum cleaner. They’ll open each air vent in your home one by one, making certain to reach every part of your home’s duct system. And they’ll use a duct inspection camera to visually confirm that there’s nothing left behind before closing up each vent in your home. Best of all, they’ll do such a thorough job that you’ll only need another duct cleaning between three and five years later, depending on your HVAC system usage.

You should remember, though, that there are some things you can do to keep your ducts clean yourself in-between professional duct cleaning visits. And the more attention you pay to your duct cleaning routine in-between visits, the less often you’ll need to call in a professional.

Stay On Top of Filter Replacements

The most important thing you can do to keep your home’s ducts clean in-between professional cleaning visits is to stay on top of your HVAC filter replacement schedule. Depending on how dusty the environment around your home tends to be, you may need to change your HVAC filter as often as every 90 days. If your home isn’t very dusty, you can instead change your filter every three months.

The type of filter your HVAC system uses will also affect how often you’ll need to change it. HVAC filters all have what’s called a MERV rating, which tells you how much particulate matter the filter will trap when you use it. The higher the number, the better the filter. However, the higher the number, the more often you’ll need a new one, too.

You could also choose to install a filter with a higher MERV rating than the one you already have. That will help keep more dust from ever reaching your vents in the first place. But if you’re planning to install a higher-quality filter, call on the experts at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning first. They’ll let you know if your new filter might cause airflow issues that will require adjustments to your HVAC system.

Clean the Parts of the Ducts You Can Reach

Since you likely don’t own a professional vacuum system with 150 feet of vacuum hose, you can’t clean all of your home’s ductwork yourself. However, if you have a shop vac with a reasonably long hose, you can still use it to clean the parts of the ducts you can reach. To do this, you should start by covering up all of your home’s return air ducts except one, preferably as close to your HVAC indoor unit as possible.

Then, you should remove the grill of the vent you’ve chosen and set your thermostat’s fan switch to on. This will begin pushing the accumulated dust in your ducts toward the vent you’ve left open. You can use your shop vac to clean the duct as best you can. You can also use a stiff-bristled brush or a stiff broom to dislodge dirt and dust further into the duct than you can reach with your vacuum. That will allow your HVAC fan to push the dust to where you can reach it to remove it.

When you’re finished, repeat this process by closing the now-clean vent and working your way through the other vents in your home. Once you’ve finished the final vent, you can turn off your HVAC fan and then clean the return air duct to the best of your ability. When you’re finished, make sure to check your HVAC air filter to see if it needs replacing after you’ve dislodged dust and dirt from your ductwork. If so, replace it.

Always Work With Care

It’s important to keep in mind that the ducts in your home are somewhat delicate. They’re only made of thin metal and held together in some places with duct tape. After all, they’re only meant to hold up against the air pressure generated by your HVAC system. Therefore, you should always exercise great care when cleaning your ducts yourself. Use as little force as possible with the vacuum and brushes you’re using to dislodge dust. And, if part of your ductwork is just out of reach, don’t go out of your way to overextend yourself.

If you do, you could damage your ductwork and it could lead to an expensive repair. It’s surprisingly easy to damage your ductwork’s joints and create air leaks in the process. That will reduce the efficiency of your HVAC and could have a direct effect on your home’s comfort. The good news is that if you make an effort to keep your ducts clean in between professional cleaning visits, there should never be significant enough dust and dirt buildup to necessitate you using much force.

Call the Duct Cleaning Experts

The bottom line is that while there are some things you can do to clean your home’s ducts yourself, there will always be parts of your ductwork you can’t reach. That’s why it’s a much better idea to leave the deep cleaning of your ductwork and HVAC system to the professionals at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve served the greater Seattle, WA, area for over 20 years, and our team of NATE-certified HVAC technicians have the skills to apply advanced duct cleaning techniques to your home’s ducts and leave them as clean as they were the day they were installed. We also offer complete HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair services, as well as expert electrical services, too. So don’t stress about your home’s ducts, and call the team at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule a duct cleaning appointment today!