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How Often Should You Clean Your Home’s Air Ducts?

Male homeowner shining a flashlight into air ducts to determine if they need to be cleaned in his Caseyville, IL, home.

Every day, the air ducts in your home’s HVAC system circulate an incredible amount of air…and it carries all kinds of debris with it, including dust, dander, hair, spiderwebs, mites, and even microbes and mold spores. How often should you clean your air ducts, given that so much of that debris ends up in the ductwork? Let Morrison Plumbing give you our professional advice on this matter.

How Often to Clean Your Air Ducts

Air ducts do not have to be cleaned on a strictly regular basis. According to the EPA, you should clean your air ducts whenever necessary. Reasons for air duct cleaning include visible mold or dirt in the system, rodents or insects in the ducts, and residents living in the home who struggle with allergies or illnesses.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), a trade group, supports cleaning air ducts as needed. However, the NADCA recommends that homeowners have their air ducts inspected once a year to ensure that they are in good working order.

You can certainly clean your air ducts yourself, but homeowners cannot see beyond the first few feet of ductwork. A video inspection by an air duct cleaning company is required to see all the way into the ductwork, and a professional company will have more advanced tools to provide a more thorough cleaning service. Something to consider when your air ducts need to be cleaned.

*Tip: Even though air ducts do not need to be cleaned on a regular basis, there are no disadvantages to having your ducts cleaned on a regular basis.

When Air Ducts Need to be Cleaned

The following are primary conditions that require your air ducts should be cleaned: 

  • Visible mold growth
  • Excessive dust inside the air ducts 
  • Rodents and/or insects
  • Residents suffering from allergies, asthma, or other illnesses

Secondary conditions include:

  • Smokers in the home
  • Shedding pets with a lot of hair or dander
  • Water contamination in the air ducts
  • Damage to the ducts
  • Recent renovation, particularly drywall work.

*Tip: Dust in the first few feet of the return air duct does not always indicate that the ducts need to be cleaned professionally. Return ducts are dirtier because they draw room air back into the system. They are cleanable with a vacuum and an extension.

A closeup of a clean ceiling air duct circulating a fresh airflow into a residential home in Caseyville, IL.


Benefits of Clean Air Ducts

The main advantage of having your home’s air ducts cleaned is that mold growth is eliminated. Even under normal conditions, contaminated air ducts can become a breeding ground for microbe growth. Toxigenic mold, also known as mycotoxins, can be dangerous to residents. Mold spores are distributed throughout the home whenever the HVAC system pushes air through the ductwork.

Mold and mildew are likely to have developed if water entered the ductwork and the moisture was not immediately dried up. As a result, cleaning the ducts after an unexpected event is a good idea. If your home has recently undergone a major renovation, especially drywall work or floor sanding, it’s also a good idea to have the ducts cleaned before turning on the HVAC.

Clean air ducts also mean a cleaner living environment, a drastic reduction of allergens and irritants, the removal of unpleasant odors, and an improvement in airflow and air quality. You will also enjoy an increase in energy efficiency, which means a decrease in your monthly energy bills.

Do It Yourself vs. Professional Air Duct Cleaning

DIY Duct Cleaning

  • $50-$100
  • End sections of return & supply ducts cleaned
  • Debris is moved toward vents
  • Debris in ductwork partially removed 

Professional Duct Cleaning

  • $450-$1,000
  • Complete ductwork cleaning 
  • Debris moved toward the HVAC unit 
  • Debris in ductwork completely removed

Only a professional duct cleaning company can perform full system-wide air duct cleaning. Commercial machines are not available to homeowners and cannot be replicated with consumer-grade vacuums.

DIY duct cleaning can clean some ductwork, primarily the ends. A vacuum with an extension can reach the ends of the return and supply ducts by 2 to 4 feet. Registers (grilles or vents) should also be vacuumed.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. It’s up to you to decide what your home needs, but if you want a professional opinion, you can always reach out to our experts at Morrison Plumbing. Contact us today for a consultation!

A young female homeowner meditates and breathes easier thanks to the clean air ducts in her Caseyville, IL, home that help make every room more comfortable.


  • What happens if you don’t clean your air ducts?

Mold spores will continue to grow and be distributed throughout the house with each HVAC cycle if mold is growing in the air ducts. Other non-microbial debris poses less of a health risk.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of duct cleaning?

The benefits of duct cleaning include the removal of all debris from the ductwork system, not just the last few feet that a homeowner can remove with a vacuum. There are no drawbacks to the service other than the cost of duct cleaning.

  • Why does my house become so dusty and how can I fight it?

Dust accumulates naturally, whether you live in your house or not, but it’s important to combat the dust as often as you can to keep your living space clean. By keeping your home less dusty, you can reduce or eliminate the need for air duct cleaning. Close all windows and doors. Make use of doormats. Vacuum and damp mop floors on a regular basis. Keep your pets clean and groomed. Replace the HVAC filter on a regular basis.


When you want professional duct cleaning or just a professional opinion on the matter, call Morrison Plumbing at (618) 262-0446. We’ll be happy to assist you and improve the quality and comfort of your home in Caseyville, IL.

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