Do-it-Yourself HVAC: How to Clean Your Own Air Ducts

Are your allergies even worse when you’re relaxing at home? Are you wondering what’s inside all of your air ducts? Americans spend more than $4 billion per year on duct cleaning, but it might be easier to do it yourself.

If you’re wondering how to get started with DIY air duct cleaning, this article is for you. We’ll walk you through the steps involved in improving your home’s air quality and let you know all of the equipment you need.

Do I Need to Clean My Air Ducts?

Some home improvement experts say that air duct cleaning is unnecessary, but others say that you should do it every three to five years. HVAC systems are closed systems that might draw some air from the outside. Other than that small amount of outside air, HVAC systems recirculate the same air at least five times per day.

You can clean your air ducts more frequently than every three years. If the inside of your house has a musty odor, try to clean the ducts every month until the odor is gone. Even if you can’t open your air ducts, you can spray bleach into them and try to improve the smell of your home.

If your allergies kick up every time you enter your home, you’ve probably got air ducts that need to be cleaned. You might notice that your furniture is dusty or that you’ve got a buildup of dust on the outside of your air vents.

Taking the time to do a DIY air duct cleaning could drastically improve the air in your home. If you suspect mold, contact your local HVAC pro to learn more about their cleaning services.

A mold infestation can ruin the resale value of your home. It’s also a danger to your family’s health and may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Keeping your vents clean is a great way to avoid costly repairs down the road.

What Equipment Do I Need?

If you’re wondering how to clean air ducts yourself, there are a few pieces of equipment you’ll need. First, you’ll need to have a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. You’ll also need rubber gloves, a bleach-based cleaning spray, and a wire brush.

It should be easy to open up air vents that are in the floor. Just take them out and give them a good cleaning. If they’re metal, you can put them into the dishwasher. If they’re painted, on the other hand, you should clean them by hand.

If your vents are in the ceiling or in the wall, you might have problems unscrewing them because they’re painted over. In that case, you can try to use an electric drill to remove the screws.

Once your vents are off, take the vacuum and see how far in you can get the attachment. Do it yourself air duct cleaning and sanitizing isn’t hard, but getting into the vents can be challenging. Another cleaning option is to put a damp cloth onto a metal rod or broomstick.

You’re going to want to change out your filters as well. If you don’t have filters in your floor vents, you should get some to prevent liquid and dirt from infecting your system.

Pro Tips on DIY Air Duct Cleaning

If you feel like you’re not getting out all of the dirt and dust in your air ducts, you can always upgrade to a cordless drill. You’ll need to attach a wire brush to the end of your drill, and you’ll need to sanitize the brush before you start. Another option is to cover the wire brush with a damp washcloth.

Try to get into your vents as far as possible and clean the vent walls as much as you can. If you’re new to DIY duct cleaning, use a flashlight to inspect your ducts. Are they round or square? Are they flexible or rigid? See how much dust you can get out of the ducts with your drill.

If you can reach into the ducts, make sure you’re cleaning all four walls. There shouldn’t be anything in there besides dust. If you find any evidence of animals or birds, close the vent up and call your local HVAC pros.

Another pro tip is to change your filters every few months. It’s easy to forget, but it should be on every homeowner’s list of home repairs and DIY projects. When you check your gutters, change your filters. There’s no reason that you should have to suffer from poor indoor air quality.

Finally, if your air vents are impossible to remove because of paint, you can use turpentine. Put a little bit of turpentine on each screw and wait for at least half an hour. You should be able to peel the paint off easily and access your screws. If the screws are stripped, use a rubber band for traction.

When to Call in the Professionals

If you think that you’re dealing with a mold infestation, you should probably get in touch with a local HVAC contractor. Mold remediation is not really a DIY project because you can stir up the mold by accident. If you have young children, senior citizens, or pets in the home, call a contractor if you suspect mold.

After a flood, you’ll probably want to get all of your air ducts checked out by a pro. You might have objects lodged deep in your ducts that you’re unaware of, or rodents may have taken up residence in your home. Again, if you see mouse, rat, or bird droppings, you should talk to an HVAC pro.

Experts may differ on whether air duct cleaning is necessary, but if it gives you peace of mind then you should do it. Make sure you have a face mask and clean equipment, and then get started on your DIY air duct cleaning project.

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