cleaning air ducts really make a difference . duct-cleaning operations may insist duct cleaning is essential for your health, the evidence does not support their claims. Companies that perform duct cleaning often advertise health benefits or suggest duct cleaning will lower your power bills by improving your system’s efficiency. Some ads even use language like, “Studies have shown . . . ” but no data back up these claims. Even if your ducts are dirty, cleaning them probably won’t provide any measurable benefits. In fact, the little independent research performed on duct cleaning indicates that the process stirs up so much dust that it creates a bigger problem than it solves.


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Due to growing concerns about indoor air quality, it’s easy to convince homeowners that their ducts need cleaning. But unless ducts are really dirty, there’s no reason to clean them. The EPA takes a similar stance on the issue and recommends only cleaning only contaminated ducts and HVAC units.

If done properly, duct cleaning doesn’t hurt. But, it’s not something that needs to be on your regular home maintenance list. You probably don’t need to have your ducts and HVAC system cleaned unless:

  • Renovation: If you’ve remodeled your home, you may need to clean your ductwork, especially if there was asbestos abatement, lead paint removal, or significant dust. Dangerous dust and debris can lodge inside unproperly sealed ductwork.
  • Animals: If there’s evidence of animal infestation or nesting in your ducts or HVAC system, remove the animals and clean the ductwork and HVAC unit.
  • Mold: Clean ducts and the HVAC system if there is visible mold growth inside the ductwork.
  • Contaminants: Clean ducts if you smell a strange odor or see noticeable debris, pet hair, or other contaminants in the room. If these are still there after you’ve cleaned and vacuumed the registers, call a professional.

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Because they’re deep in your walls, floors and/or ceilings, most homeowners don’t think a lot about air ducts. And when you do, what should be done about cleaning them — if anything? The recommendations are never one size fits all. There are many factors to consider, so we encourage you to consult the heating and cooling professionals at MTB before taking action.

Of course, there are a few obvious signs your ductwork should be inspected, when you see evidence that:

  • Your ducts are inhabited by vermin
  • Your ducts have become clogged with dust or debris
  • Your ducts show signs of mildew or moisture buildup

According to  the EPA, research shows that cleaning components such as your cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers can help improve your HVAC system’s efficiency, but cleaning your ducts doesn’t have the same evidence to back it up. While air ducts do get dirty over time, cleaning them is not a requirement.

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The bottom line is: no one knows. There are examples of ducts that have become badly contaminated with a variety of materials that may pose risks to your health. The duct system can serve as a means to distribute these contaminants throughout a home. In these cases, duct cleaning may make sense. However, a light amount of household dust in your air ducts is normal. Duct cleaning is not considered to be a necessary part of yearly maintenance of your heating and cooling system, which consists of regular cleaning of drain pans and heating and cooling coils, regular filter changes and yearly inspections of heating equipment. Research continues in an effort to evaluate the potential benefits of air duct cleaning.

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