As a homeowner, there are plenty of things to stay on top of; homeowner’s insurance, property maintenance, storm preparedness, the list goes on and on. As if that doesn’t keep you busy enough, you also have to make time for AC maintenance to ensure that your air conditioner works efficiently and lasts as long as possible. Part of that maintenance includes cleaning the air ducts.
How Often Should You Clean AC Air Ducts?
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends that you clean the ducts every three to five years. Factors that influence that timeframe include:
- The amount of pollution in your geographical area
- How many people live in your home
- Whether anyone in your household smokes
- Whether anyone in your home suffers from allergies
Benefits of Cleaning Air Ducts
In order for an air conditioner to work efficiently, airflow needs to be unobstructed. This will help your system reach the temperature set on the thermostat quicker, which translates into energy efficiency and lower utility bills.
In addition, clean air ducts reduce the likelihood of mold formation, and the accumulation of allergens, they also prevent insects and rodents from nesting inside your home.
9 Signs that You Need to Clean the AC Air Ducts
Visible signs that indicate it’s time for a cleaning, include:
- Debris in the return vent grills
- Mold on the furnace
- The home is always dusty, regardless of how often you clean
- Family members seem to be suffering from allergies more than usual
- Energy bills have increased with no explanation
- Your home has undergone a renovation
- The air filters get dirty faster than normal
- Inconsistent air flow throughout the house
- You’ve heard rodents within the walls
How to Clean the Air Vents
While cleaning the entire duct system requires the assistance of an HVAC technician, you can clean the vents yourself between maintenance visits.
- Shut off power to the AC at the breaker panel.
- Unscrew the air duct cover/return grill.
- Use a cleaning brush to clear the debris right behind the return grill.
- Vacuum any debris not cleared by the brush.
- Wipe the surface with soap and water.
- Wipe the grills with soap and water.
- Dry all cleaned surfaces.
- Replace the air duct cover/return grill.