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Winter Heating Guide: Duct Sealing & Cleaning

Your home’s HVAC unit is a complex and tedious machine that can turn your home’s interior into a haven from the harshness of the natural world. While most people are relatively good at maintaining their HVAC unit. One aspect of the HVAC system that often gets ignored is the health of the ducts that carry the hot or cold air throughout your home.

In homes with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. However, in a typical house, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.

A duct system that is well-designed and properly sealed can make your home more comfortable, energy-efficient, and safer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you have a qualified and licensed technician check every component of your HVAC system during a duct cleaning service. For the best result, be sure whomever you hire is certified, and you trust them to complete the service correctly. Let's break down what you can do to ensure that you get the most value from your service.


What Makes Air Duct Cleaning Necessary?


Your air ducts allow your system to deliver hot or cold air throughout your home without using multiple units. The EPA says that if ducts are not cleaned, "components may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. In addition, if moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased, and spores from such growth may be released into the home's living space.”


Mold growth and poor indoor air quality can lower the quality of life for every member of the household. If you or someone living in your home has repository issues, you should take the time to ensure your ducts are clean, or they could be at risk of a negative reaction.


What Is Air Duct Cleaning?


The best thing you can do to avoid high service fees without the results when getting your air ducts cleaned is to know what exactly the service entails. According to the EPA, your technician should be inspecting the following components of your forced-air system:

  • The supply and return air ducts and registers
  • Grilles and diffusers
  • Heat exchangers
  • Heating and cooling coils
  • Condensate drain pans (drip pans)
  • Fan motor and fan housing
  • The air handling unit housing


Be sure to ask if all these tasks will be completed during your service. If not, many reliable contractors will meet every need.


Deciding Whether or Not to Have Your Ducts Cleaned


When making this decision, it's important to remember that every home and situation is different. For example, suppose you've had your ducts inspected without issue, and no one living in your home suffers from allergies or respiratory diseases. In that case, you probably don't need to have them serviced. On the other hand, if someone in your home is at risk and you start to notice symptoms, it's most likely going to be beneficial.


The EPA states that if you have any of the issues below, it’s a good idea to have your ducts cleaned immediately.


  • Evidence of substantial mold growth inside ducts or other components of your heating and cooling system.
  • Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)
  • Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris, or particles are released into the home from your supply registers.