5 Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning

29 June 2021


Your home’s cooling system can work better with frequent maintenance, much like your car or any other appliance. Air duct cleaning is an essential service to consider to ensure the longevity of your HVAC system.

Despite cleaning filters on a regular basis, your home’s HVAC system fills with debris with regular usage, and your air ducts are a favourite hiding place for dust, dirt, and allergens. The contaminants and air pollutants in the dust and dirt will not only affect your indoor air quality, but also make your machine work harder. Not only does this influence your energy costs, but it will also reduce the lifetime of your system.

What happens if you do not clean your ducts?

To get a sense of how important duct cleaning is, it is helpful to know what kinds of pollutants may be hiding in your air ducts. Many people are shocked to learn what gets caught in the scheme. The following are some of the most common contaminants:

Mites, Dust and Debris

To get rid of dirt and dust, you spend a lot of time dusting furniture, vacuuming carpets, and mopping the floors. Because dust can collect on surfaces during the day, even the bed linens are given special attention. However, mites, dust and debris also accumulate in your air ducts. Dust and mites are part of what you breathe in unless the ducts are washed on a regular basis.


Condensation may form in the duct system, leaving behind enough residue to encourage mold growth. Mildew can accumulate in ducts over time. Consider what happens as air passes over mold: tiny spores break off and spread around your home. That is not good news for anyone who lives there.

How often should I clean my air ducts?

The typical air duct system should be cleaned every two to five years. You can extend the period between professional cleanings if your system is well-maintained, and your filters are replaced twice a year.

Even with the best filters, debris will accumulate in your ducts. There will be particles that get through the filter or join the device in other ways. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because your machine has a filter, your ducts don’t need to be washed.

Your ducts will accumulate particles that will clog them up or, at the very least, reduce the air quality in your home when you turn on your duct system, especially if you live in an area with high pollution.

Can mold get in air ducts?

Mold develops in ductwork when moisture and warm temperatures are present. Mold grows best in a wet and humid climate. Mold in air ducts can be caused by a warm atmosphere, inadequate ventilation, or something else that traps moisture in your walls and induces condensation.

Can mold make you sick?

Here is a list of health problems that can be triggered or exacerbated by dirty air vents:

  • Respiratory Issues

Breathing can be difficult if the air quality is poor. If you have rotting vermin or mold in your air vents, you can experience coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Bad indoor air quality can lead to the spread of bacteria, viruses, and even lung disease in serious cases.

  • Throat Infection

Have you been waking up with a sore throat lately? It is possible that your HVAC machine is causing the itch and annoyance.

  • Allergies

The season of spring cleaning has arrived! More pollen is produced as the weather warms and it rains. While clean and effective air vents will not recirculate pollen and other debris in your home, air conditioning or heating units that are overburdened with dust can.

Bad air quality could be part of the issue if you wake up with a scratchy throat, itchy eyes, or can’t stop sneezing. It’s best to adjust air filters every three months to keep pollen and other allergies at bay.

How to test for mold in air ducts?

Mildew is most found on organic surfaces like wood and paper, but it can also be found on fabrics and some paints. Many vents have dirt and debris inside them that can aid in the growth of mildew, but a simple test can help you figure out whether you have a problem with your air system:

  1. Unscrew the vent from the wall to open it. Look inside with a flashlight for gravel, garbage, paper scraps, or insulation fibers. These aid in the creation of a favorable climate for mildew to thrive.
  2. Using a white cloth, wipe the inside of the vent and check to see if the cloth is wet. Mildew is more likely to develop if there is a lot of condensation within your vents.
  3. Examine the interior of the vent cover and the duct for black or white spots. Mildew can develop in even the tiniest of spots.
  4. When the air is streaming, smell to check if there are any odors inside the tube. You likely have mildew in your system if the air smells musty or rusty. Do not inhale the air in the vent for too long – a few sniffs should suffice to alert you to the possibility of mildew. Inhaling concentrated spores may cause health issues.

Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning


If you have mold in your air ducts, you must act quickly to protect the indoor air quality of your house. Any mold problems can be identified and remedied by an air duct cleaning specialist. You should also take extra care against excess moisture in your home in addition to duct cleaning. Installing a whole-house dehumidifier or adjusting your thermostat settings will help. Keep in mind that mold growth will return if the factors that caused it in the first place are not addressed.

Infested with rodents or insects

Unfortunately, rodents enjoy living in ducts and will chew their way in or find an unsealed entry point. If they settle in, your ducts will become a personal highway for rodents, which they will use to travel all over your house. If rodents have taken up residence in your air ducts, you’ll notice some tell-tale signs, like droppings, chewed-up materials, and foul odors, all of which suggest an infestation.

Remember that a rodent infestation can necessitate more than just air duct cleaning! If you ignore the issue, it may lead to severe structural damage as well as an inefficient HVAC system, which will result in higher energy bills.


Dust and debris will find their way in even if contractors are careful about sweeping up and closing off work areas to keep the site tidy. Dirt and dust will find their way into your ductwork unless the HVAC system is switched off and kept fully covered during the building process (which isn’t practical for most homeowners).

Rising energy costs

When air ducts become too dirty, air cannot flow easily and efficiently through your home’s HVAC system. Both the furnace and air conditioner will have to work harder to maintain a decent temperature when this happens. You will therefore face higher utility bills due to this increased energy consumption.

You may also note that a shower, bedroom, or other space in your house does not get the same amount of airflow as the rest of the house. Vents that are completely open should, in most cases, have reasonably clear airflow from room to room. Dirty air ducts may be the source of this inconsistency.


Dirt, dust, pet dander, and other harmful pollutants can persist in the air ducts of even the cleanest homes. When the HVAC system turns on, you might see dust coming out of the vents! Examine the air supply and return vents in your home.

If they seem dirty, carefully remove the vent cover and/or filter and inspect the ductwork. Is there any dust on the metal? Your ducts most likely need to be cleaned if you see dust and dirt both inside and outside, particularly near the vents that blow cool air out.

How do professionals clean air ducts?

While industry associations associated with air duct cleaning have developed guidelines, duct cleaning methods differ. Typically, a service provider can dislodge dirt and other debris from ducts with specialized equipment before vacuuming them out with a high-powered vacuum cleaner. Groupe Rousso uses a friction-suction-pulsion method to clean your ducts thoroughly.

How long does it take to clean air ducts?

Cleaning the air duct system in a typical single-family home requires two to four hours with a crew of at least two technicians. However, this can vary greatly depending on the property and the condition of the air ducts.

Need to clean your air ducts?

Groupe Rousso specializes in cleaning services related to ventilation, heating and air conditioning networks as well as decontamination services for building structures. Our priority is to optimize the comfort and quality of the ambient air in residential, offices, residences for the elderly, hotels, shops and industrial and institutional environments.

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