Does Duct Cleaning Improve Air Quality?


Your home’s air conditioning system must work at its best in today’s polluted environment, and so should all of its components.

Its air ducts provide a pathway to the air to be delivered or removed, but can cleaning them improve the air quality? According to the Environmental Protection (EPA) agency and other studies, cleaning the air ducts does not improve air quality and it doesn’t remove dust or improve your air conditioning system’s performance. However, cleaning the air ducts has the benefit of removing mold or bacteria, which could prevent a major infestation.


Cleaning Air Ducts and How It Affects Air Quality

Why is the air quality of your living space important?

A survey conducted in 2009 reported that almost 60% of the American population lives in areas with a high air pollution level.

This air pollution causes serious health problems, including bacterial infections, allergies, asthma, heart diseases, cancer, etc. Current surveys prove that to be still true. Many studies and organized surveys have clearly proven a direct relationship between these health issues and low air quality.

To prevent these risks and live a healthy lifestyle, we must improve air quality in our living and workspaces.


Does duct cleaning prevent health problems?

Which brings us to the idea of cleaning your air ducts. Maybe this could be the magic bullet that improves your home’s air quality.

Sadly, it isn’t.

No research or research has been able to prove this in the present.

Many people think that the air passing through these ducts may pick up the dust and harmful pollutants present in these places. But according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the dust in the air ducts does not enter our living spaces; it just sticks to the duct’s interior surfaces.

Even a small amount of dust present in our houses is not that harmful. The harmful pollutants that come into our living spaces originate more from activities like cooking and smoking than from the air ducts.

Also, no research or study has proven that getting them cleaned affects your HVAC system’s performance. In fact, EPA’s research found that there cleaning air ducts had no effect on improving air quality or even increasing the air conditioning system’s performance.

So did the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation – in their study, air duct cleaning didn’t improve air quality, didn’t help with dust, didn’t increase the HVAC’s airflow and it didn’t reduce its heating costs.

That’s a lot of negatives for a service that costs over $800 per home.


So does duct cleaning do anything at all?

While this answer might be disappointing, there is still some benefit to getting your air ducts cleaned.

Cleaning your air ducts can remove mold that might be growing inside the air ducts. The EPA recommends it for that reason, despite their study results showing no benefit elsewhere.

Mold and related pollutants only need dampness and excess moisture to grow, and in the air ducts, it can grow uninterrupted. Air ducts provide a passage to air to be delivered or removed, and these mold-infested passages can fill your living space with pollutants that pose risks to your health.


Why cleaning air ducts is essential?

To recap, at most this is what you can expect duct cleaning to do for your home:

  • To clean mold infestation.
  • To remove insect infestation.
  • To remove and prevent a rodent infestation.
  • To clean a large amount of dust and debris that might have entered the ducts during a house modification or renovation project. Again, don’t confuse this with dust that normally accumulates over the years. We’re talking about major dust and debris while a home is being renovated or built.


Should the air ducts be cleaned regularly?

According to EPA, there is no need to do it regularly. In many cases, using the ducts’ cleaning equipment can stir up the dust that was otherwise adhering to the internal surface. Contrary to popular belief, cleaning air ducts is not a part of the HVAC system’s regular maintenance. So getting the air ducts cleaned only when and if needed is enough.


When does cleaning air ducts become necessary?

When mold is growing inside the ducts, which severely reduces air quality, it is necessary to clean the air ducts. Other reasons may include any clogging created by the high amount of dust and debris, a rodent or insect infestation in the ducts.

The exception is if you have a family member who is highly allergic to dust. But be careful not to agitate the air by doing this.


What factors should you consider when hiring a company for this service?

Many of their ads start with “studies show that,” which is very misleading. We have already mentioned that no study supports the hypothesis of preventing health issues by cleaning air ducts. Keep in mind that they want to sell their services. Here is a small list of tentative guidelines for you to follow.

  • Make sure that you need to get your ducts clean. For that, you can contact multiple service providers at once and compare the estimates given by them.
  • Don’t bother to hire them if they tell you to get ducts clean regularly.
  • Also, the government or EPA has no regulations or standards, so if someone claims to be certified, they are lying.
  • Check the customer reviews.
  • Ask complete, knowledgeable questions upon contact.
  • Do not allow any chemicals to be used unless you understand the full consequences.
  • Make sure that the person coming to do the job is qualified and adequately knowledgeable about this subject. An unqualified person will cause more harm than an unclean air duct.

Remember, there is a chance that the service providers are scamming you. So be careful when making your choice.


Related Questions

Is cleaning air ducts worth it?

Based on this article, this is a personal decision.

While cleaning air ducts cannot improve overall air quality, it can help prevent mold in the ducts. Mold can become a serious problem down the road, so it might be worthwhile investment to get your air ducts cleaned.


Does getting air ducts cleaned to improve the efficiency of an HVAC system?

As we have mentioned above, no research or study proves this. In many cases, taking preventive measures is enough, instead of getting them cleaned professionally. For example, make sure that the ducts are properly insulated. This will prevent the moisture from entering, which will reduce the chances of mold growth. Ensure that the ducts are sealed adequately at joints when installing a new device like an air conditioner.


Why do some experts recommend that air ducts should be cleaned while others don’t?

It is because this topic as a research field is still relatively unstudied.

While there are companies that might support cleaning air ducts regularly, there is no conclusive data. No one knows the exact answer to this, which is why the EPA suggests getting them cleaned only when needed.

As of right now, based on the information out there, the only time when cleaning the air duct is beneficial for your health is when there is a mold infestation in them. But clearing out the ordinary dust from the air ducts is not part of the regular maintenance. Some might also claim that this will increase the efficiency of the HVAC, which again is unproven.