Do You Need to Clean Your Vents? Here's How to Know

Do you ever wonder if your air ducts need cleaning? Learn how to tell if your vents need cleaning and why it's important.

Do You Need to Clean Your Vents? Here's How to Know

Do you ever wonder if your air ducts need cleaning? It's a valid question, as research shows that 26% of ventilation ducts are clogged with dust and dirt, and 26% of mold is present inside or outside your air conditioning system. Other signs of a need for cleaning include unstable or poor air flow in the house. You may consider cleaning the air ducts simply because it seems logical that they become dirty over time and should be cleaned periodically. As long as cleaning is done properly, there is no evidence to suggest that it is harmful.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned routinely, but only when necessary. However, the EPA does recommend that if you have a furnace, stove, or fireplace that burns fuel, they be inspected to see if they are working properly and maintained before each heating season to protect them from carbon monoxide poisoning. Poorly maintained heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can harbor mold, fungi, bacteria, and other disease-carrying biological contaminants that are recirculated through forced air systems. If you have an older building (10 years old or older) and you don't have any record of previous owners cleaning air ducts, chances are you've never had this service or have done it for a long time.

Just as regular oil changes are important for the efficiency and safety of the vehicle's operation, cleaning the air ducts is essential for the proper functioning of the air conditioning system. As with oil changes, time alone can be a great way to decide if you need to clean your ducts. When was the last time you checked your air conditioning system? Has it been five years? Has it been 10 years? This alone is a warning sign because you're allowing a potential problem to manifest and worsen much more than it should be. People don't ignore things like oil changes in their cars because they know that they will inevitably cause problems in the future. You should treat indoor air quality with the same care.

Air ducts, like any other air conditioning system, require regular cleaning to ensure maximum efficiency. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends cleaning air ducts every three to five years. However, in some environments, the need to clean commercial air ducts is more immediate. Food manufacturers, for example, require quarterly, biannual, and annual duct cleaning services because of the food particles they introduce into their systems, leading to mold and pest problems. The same is true for manufacturing operations that create risks of combustible dust. For a list of retailers offering natural gas or electric services in Alberta, visit or call 310-4822 (toll-free in Alberta).

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