Air Duct Cleaning & What To Expect

ByMarc Silberberg


We always want the best for our loved ones, making sure they have what they need on a daily basis like their favorite foods and gadgets but what about the air quality in one’s home? During the cold winter months both children and adults get less fresh air because there’s little to no inspiration to get outdoors when there’s a chill in the atmosphere. That’s why it’s important as caregivers that we do our due diligence to see that the air in our homes does not distribute any harmful particles that can be harmful to anyone’s respiratory system, especially children and the elderly.

Well, you have heard of cleaning your air ducts but like me you’re not really sure if your home needs an air duct cleaning or how effective it is to improve the home’s air quality. In fact there are some who claim that it disrupts the homes air quality as dust particles get loosened from the duct walls and get pushed back into the living area. Better to have kept the dust and dirt deep in the attic ducts rather than attempt to push them out of the system while tiny particles slip through the protective shields and into the home’s atmosphere. 

These are all good questions and we are going to clarify what exactly happens when you hire a certified air duct cleaning professional to clean your home’s air ducts and how to know if you need one in the first place. The last thing any homeowner wants amidst an economic slow down is to be sold on another service that is totally unnecessary. 

How Do I Know If I Might Need My Home Air Ducts Cleaned?

Most U.S. homes utilize natural gas and force air through the ducts to heat and cool the air. While the blower pushes the new conditioned air throughout the home simultaneously it sucks back the air into the HVAC system through the return vents. Sometimes the return vents are clearly visual and are situated directly on the wall while other times they can be well out of your sight. The objective would be to glance into the surface area just behind the metallic grill for a film or bubbles of dust (it almost appears like a small forest of tiny gray trees). If you are seeing what I am seeing then we can determine that there is plenty more of that deep inside your HVAC system’s ductwork, and YES you can use a duct cleaning. There is a good chance that the air in your home is circulating little tiny particles of dust that fall back into the conditioned space or even get past the filter by the air blower and that is not good for the home’s inhabitants.   

OK, So I See Dust Accumulated By The Return Vents Now What? 

If you’re a homeowner you want to make sure to call a reputable air duct cleaning company that has plenty of five star reviews. Perhaps your friend or family member had used someone that they were satisfied with and they trust. Yeah, those four letters “trust” are very important as they will have access to your home for at least two to three hours depending on the size of the home. What you want to avoid is an ad that you came across and have no clue as to who the service technician is. Don’t get caught up in the deal but rather be sure that the duct cleaning company is insured and NADCA certified (NADCA is an acronym for National Air Duct Cleaners Association which certifies local air duct cleaning companies). The last thing you want is for someone to come down to your home and do harm to the quality of the air rather than improve it. Your home’s ductwork is the respiratory system of the HVAC system and it is super sensitive to harsh cleaning equipment let alone allowing dust particles to fly all throughout the home (it is not just dust particles but there can be a build up of over decades of debris and mold that can be loosened and distributed back into the home’s living areas). 

All You Need Is An Estimate & Don’t Provide Any Payment Information

Today you have to protect yourself, especially if you’re a senior citizen. Scammers are looking for any way to gain a buck and unfortunately the duct cleaning industry is full of them. To be sure that you will be serviced by a trusted air duct cleaning professional, have them come down and offer a free estimate. When a service provider offers a free estimate it is a good signal and shows transparency and commitment to doing the job right and on budget.

There is no need to provide a form of payment prior to any work being done. It has been accepted practice in the service industry that payment is required only after the work is completed (unless of course you are talking about an HVAC installation or replacement where a deposit is required). It is safe to say that when your home is being serviced for an air duct cleaning job that the obligation to pay is only once the job is complete. 

I Live In a Condominium Unit & I See a Film of Dust By The Return Vent

Yeah, I know multi dwelling units are a bigger problem because you can’t just call someone down to clean your ducts as that might be a breach in contract, especially if you rent. Chances are that return ducts are part of a much bigger commercial duct system that can potentially contain large amounts of ducts and is a much bigger duct cleaning job than just your unit.  

First, reach out to your building maintenance team and show them your issue as they are there to service you and there is no reason for this to be your expense. Cleaning a commercial air duct is a much bigger job and requires an air duct cleaning professional that has a whole team. Chances are that the whole building will need a complete duct cleaning with special equipment that can reach throughout the whole building’s ducts. It’s difficult but when you’re in an apartment building or condominium you’re subject to their maintenance team and all you can do is simply put in a request for the ducts to be cleaned. Even if a worker comes to your unit to get rid of the visual dust residue at the return duct that is a plus. Perhaps a good idea would be to round your neighbors together and demand for the building’s air ducts to be cleaned. 

Commercial buildings have a way for the unwanted elements that linger in the air ducts to be deposited outside but if the debris sticks to the metal duct walls that has to be loosened and blown out. Over the course of years and decades loads of dust, dander, and even ash will be pushed out when a commercial air duct cleaning company comes down to service the building.

Can I Stick Around During The Air Duct Cleaning?

Ultimately that is your choice, but there will be lots of hoses and noise during the two to three hour air duct cleaning treatment. At the same time you don’t want to go too far, just that they should know that someone is around watching them. I had a flooring company that installed laminate in the kitchen and my son told me that the workers were helping themselves to cookies and bananas. You never want a worker to get too comfortable when you’re not home. If you have security cameras, give a call to check in on them to see how the service call is going. Today you can never be safe enough and it is always good to take extra precaution with your home’s security. 

Once the job is complete, check if there is no visual dust around any of the return vents and registers. Seeing dust around the home even after a duct cleaning can signal that something was not sealed off properly and there is a good chance that it just got through the plastic sheets that covered the vents. Only after a thorough inspection with the duct cleaning professional should they be compensated for their work.   

Provide Feedback On Your Air Duct Cleaning Service Call

Whether you’re satisfied or not, it’s important to share your experience and let others know if the air duct cleaning company was professional, courteous, and did a quality job. Your review can help direct others to choose or not choose a company for their next air duct cleaning service. More importantly, the workers are going to be accessing your most private quarters to close off all air vents. Be smart and don’t leave anything of value laying around as you don’t want to tempt any worker to possibly take something of yours. This is why it’s vital that you leave your feedback for others to see if the company is good at what it does and trustworthy across the board. If you had a good experience others will benefit and if you had a bad experience others will be able to stay away. Good Luck!

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