Air ducts, like any other air conditioning system, require regular cleaning to ensure maximum efficiency. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends cleaning air ducts every three to five years. However, in some environments, the need to clean commercial air ducts is more immediate. There are a few factors that influence when it comes to setting how often you should clean your duct systems. Every 3 to 5 years is a standard recommendation, but you may want to consider doing it more often depending on certain factors.
The average duct system must be cleaned every two to five years. If your system is properly maintained and filters are changed twice a year, you can increase the time between professional cleanings. If your system has never been cleaned and has been active on your property for more than three years, it's probably due to a cleaning. Even a single station can accumulate enough dust and dirt in the system to make it less efficient than it was when it was first installed.
Also, consider cleaning the ducts if there is a musty, burning smell when you turn on the oven. You should also keep in mind that sharing your home with pets that have lost hair will increase the amount of dust, dirt and hair inside the vents, so they need to be cleaned more often. However, the NADCA adds that homeowners should inspect their air ducts once a year to check their condition. In addition, studies on the effects of duct cleaning do not conclusively show that the presence of dust and debris in ducts increases the levels of particles inside the house.
Cleaning HVAC ducts doesn't take as much time as, say, replacing the entire system, but you'll still want to set aside time during a season when you probably won't need your system so that the duct cleaning company has enough time to fully clean the ductwork before you need to use your HVAC. While dirt, dust, hair, and other debris can build up inside these ducts, this doesn't mean you should clean them regularly. The advantages of duct cleaning are that it removes all debris from the duct system and not just the last few meters that the owner can remove with a vacuum cleaner. Even if you use your system on a daily basis, if the air leaving this system smells strange, now is a good time to clean your ducts.
While each air duct cleaning company's process will look slightly different, they will all have a similar overall process. In fact, cleaning ducts regularly can accumulate dust and increase levels of particles inside the house than they would have been if you had lived with slightly dirty ducts. Cleaning your air ducts will temporarily reduce or eliminate any allergens that build up in your home's airflow systems. That said, people with sensitive respiratory systems or severe allergies should consider cleaning their ducts more often to reduce the accumulation of dust and dirt before it becomes excessive.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that, since you have a filter in your system, you don't need to clean your ducts. The presence of dust in the first few meters of the return air duct does not necessarily mean that the ducts must be cleaned by a professional. Professional air duct cleaning services specialize in this process and have unique tools to get the job done right.