A man cleaning the exterior of a floor air duct vent in a home

It seems like everyone is advertising duct cleaning services these days. But are duct cleanings actually worth it?

What Is Air Duct Cleaning?

Air duct cleaning is a service offered by HVAC professionals to remove dust, dirt, pollen, dander, mold, and other contaminants that can accumulate in the ductwork.

Cleaning typically takes around 3 hours if done correctly. The actual time depends on the ductwork length, the size of the home, and the complexity of the system.

Air duct cleaning uses an industrial-grade vacuum that connects to the air ducts and sucks out all the dirt. All vents must be plugged in for the vacuum to work.

While the vacuum is running, technicians will go around to each vent with an air hose and blow the dirt towards the vacuum. They must do this on both the supply and the return.

Are Duct Cleanings Necessary?

They can be if you have particularly filthy ducts.

The majority of homes will not have a problem with dirty ductwork.

One quick way to see if you have dirty ductwork is to find a return air grill (located on an inside wall), remove it, and look inside.

If you see a lot of dirt, dust, and debris, your home will likely benefit from a duct cleaning. A duct cleaning will remove all of that dirt and debris to create better airflow and make your furnace fan’s job a little easier.

Choose a Reputable Company

Pro Tip: I’ve been in the HVAC industry for over 15 years. A lot of duct cleaning companies out there are scams. They don’t do thorough cleanings and have not been trained properly on HVAC equipment.

When the company I work for picked up duct cleaning, we were sent to intensive training to use the cleaning equipment correctly and safely. 

If you do need duct cleaning, find a licensed HVAC company that offers the service.

If someone tells you that you need a duct cleaning every 2–3 years, they are trying to scam you. The best thing you can do for your HVAC system is to change your filter on a regular schedule.

Older homes can benefit from duct cleaning. If your home is less than 15 years old, you likely do not need one. If you are experiencing air quality concerns in your home, you would likely be better off with a whole-home air purification unit.

A  furnace air filter being replaced

What You Can Do To Keep Your Air Ducts Clean

  1. Change your air filter on a regular schedule
  2. Remove return air grills, dust them and vacuum as far down as you can. Try to do this twice per year.
  3. Dust your home and vacuum regularly, especially if you have children or pets. 

That’s really all you need to do. If you are experiencing poor performance from your HVAC system due to duct restriction, by all means, have them cleaned. But this is not something you will need to do often.

One improvement you can make to your HVAC system that can benefit your air quality: upgrade to a 4’’ or 5’’ filter. To do this, you will need to install a larger filter boot on the return air side.

These filters only need to be changed every 6 months. Some homes can get a year out of them, depending on traffic.


  1. It’s great that you pointed out that cleaning your air ducts can help you extend the working life of your HVAC system. With that in mind, I would think that it would be important to make sure that you use the right tools and products when cleaning air ducts. I would think that hiring an HVAC technician to clean your ducts would be a good idea because you won’t have to worry about something going wrong.

  2. It’s valuable that you mention that you can improve the longevity of your home’s HVAC system by having the air ducts cleaned. I want the HVAC system in my house to last for as long as possible, so I’m considering hiring someone to clean my air ducts for me next Thursday. I’m going to see if there’s a good business in my area that offers air duct cleaning services.

  3. Just read this article and I can say these are awesome great tips on how to take care of your “Clean Air Solutions”. I will be using this tips for my own clients so that their projects go smoothly!

  4. Such an informative read! I’ve been wondering about whether to clean my air ducts or not, and this article really lays out the pros and cons nicely. It’s great to have a balanced perspective on this. Thanks for breaking it down.

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