When do property air ducts need to be cleaned and why?

Blog / Commercial Air Conditioner System / Residential Air Conditioner System / Tips

Most individuals and businesses are now conscious of indoor air pollution as an issue of increased concern and visibility. Several companies are promoting products and services which are intended to improve your indoor air quality. You’ve probably seen adverts, received a coupon in your mail, or been directly approached by a company offering air duct cleaning as a means of improving your property’s indoor air quality.

Most of the services typically vary in cost per HVAC (heat, ventilation, and air conditioning) system, depending on the size of the system, system accessibility, level of contamination, climate region.

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

Duct cleaning generally means the cleaning of different HVAC system components, including the grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, cooling and heating coils, supply and return air ducts, fan motor & fan housing, condensate drain pans (drip pans), etc.

If not properly installed, maintained or operated, these system parts may become contaminated with dust, debris, and pollen. If there’s moisture present, it increases the potential for mould and other microbiological growth. Furthermore, spores from such growth might be released into the indoor space. Many of these contaminants may lead to allergic reactions or other symptoms and illnesses in occupants if they’re exposed to them.

If you’re interested in cleaning your air conditioning system, it’s important to hire a professional air duct cleaning services provider who’s agreed to clean all system components. Failure to clean any component of a contaminated system may lead to re-contamination of the whole system, thereby undoing any potential benefits.

Residential vs. Commercial Duct Cleaning – Is there any difference?

Most people might be clueless to the differences between residential and commercial duct cleaning. While both commercial and residential heating and cooling units have similar components and are designed to perform the same function, a few structural distinctions exist. These differences have significantly influenced how each system’s ductwork is cleaned. Some of the differences include: 


One of the most significant differences between residential and commercial systems is where they’re located at home or business. Residential HVAC units are typically installed on the ground and within proximity to the home, while commercial air conditioners are located on the rooftop due to the reasons below:

  • Their large size
  • The ability for technical experts to perform maintenance without disrupting occupants’ routine or scheduling
  • Safety from interference on sidewalks and in parking lots
  • Protection from vandalism


Both residential and commercial metal ductworks are housed inside. However, residential HVAC units are usually in splits. A split is an industry term that refers to two units working together to heat or cool the home. The outdoor unit houses the condenser, condenser fan, and compressor, while the indoor unit houses the evaporator, blower, and condensate drain.

Commercial HVAC systems are usually designed as one unit with the above components in a single cabinet that’s stationed outside.


Commercial units are more detailed and complex than the residential systems. The ductwork is larger because it’s built to heat and cool a bigger indoor space with more occupants. Therefore, the drainage system also has to be more expansive and requires more windows for exhaust.

Residential systems have smaller ductworks , with a single drainage pan, and few windows for the exhaust.  

How to Know That Your Air Conditioning Ducts Needs Cleaning

Your home or office’s heating and cooling system will perform optimally with regular maintenance, and AC duct cleaning services are among the things to consider to ensure your unit’s longevity.

Despite routinely replacing worn-out components like filters, your property’s (home or business) HVAC unit accumulates particles with regular, daily use. Unfortunately, your ducts are a favourite place for dirt, dust and allergens to linger. This dirt and dust is filled with air pollutants and contaminants that not only potentially harm the quality of your indoor air, but also cause your unit to work harder. This leads to increased energy bills and decreased lifespan of your system.

Do you want to know when you need an air conditioning duct cleaning service? Here are a few giveaways of dirty air ducts! 

Your Structure Is Recently Constructed or Has Undergone a Major Facelift/Renovation

When is it critical to perform duct cleaning? That’s among the questions that confront new and current property owners. An air duct cleaning should be performed when moving into a new residence or office apartment/block, especially if the previous occupant(s) smoke, own a pet, or if they didn’t service the unit within the last 3-5 years.

When constructing a new home or office block, duct cleaning works to expel construction debris (e.g. drywall dust) that accumulate during the process. The completion of any residential or commercial renovation projects deserves a proper cleaning as remnants like sawdust can infiltrate your ducts.

Musty Smell or Visible mould

Mould growth is encouraged by damp, humid and hard-to-reach areas, like your air duct system. If you perceive a mustiness in the air, see physical mould, or are experiencing allergy symptoms such as itchiness and coughing, an AC duct cleaning should be performed on the contaminated ductwork. Hire a trusted service provider who can mend the microbial infestation by sanitising the ducts to kill existing growth, and help to prevent future occurrences.

Pest (Insects or Rodents) Infestation

Creepy crawlers can make your ducts their home, thus contaminating the air that is circulated throughout the building with their odour and debris. If you notice pests in or around your ductwork, a proper duct cleaning can help eradicate vermin and ensure that they don’t bug you any longer.

Excess Particulate Matter (e.g. Dust or Debris)

This is another reason why residential or commercial air ducts might require cleaning. Dust, dead skin, pet dander, and dangerous allergens can accumulate over time within the ductwork. This excessive debris/particles can manifest visibly as dust that is released into the indoor space from air vents. Buildup of such substances can put the property occupants at risk of respiratory and other health-related issues, while decreasing the optimal performance of your system.

A lot of energy used for heating or cooling a residential or commercial building is wasted. This decreases your system’s longevity and bores a hole in your wallet. Without a doubt, performing a proper duct cleaning will optimise the airflow in your air ducts. A professional cleaning service can rid your ductwork of this buildup, ensuring maximum airflow that is clean, safe and breathable for every occupant.

How Air Duct Cleaning Is Performed

Although standards established by industry associations and professional bodies exist, methods of duct cleaning can still vary. Typically, a professional service provider uses specialised tools to dislodge particulate matter in ducts, then vacuums them out, using a high-powered vacuum cleaner. 

Additionally, the service provider may propose the application of chemical biocides, designed to kill biological contaminants, to the ductwork’s interior and other system components. A few other service providers may also suggest the application of chemical treatments (encapsulants e.g. sealants) to cover or encapsulate the interior surfaces of the ducts and equipment housing as they potentially help control mould growth. 

Using sealants to encapsulate the interior surfaces of air ducts is different from sealing air duct leaks. Sealing leaks help save energy costs.

Tips for Hiring an Air Duct Cleaning Service Provider

Never assume that all air duct cleaning service companies are equally knowledgeable and responsible. Below are some tips for choosing your next duct cleaning service provider.

  • Talk to different service providers (at least three) and obtain written estimates before you decide whether to have your air ducts cleaned. 
  • Check references and reviews to be certain that other customers were satisfied and didn’t experience any issues with their HVAC system after cleaning.
  • Check with your local consumer affairs office or Better Business Bureau to know whether any complaints have been made against any of the providers you’re considering.
  • Interview potential companies to ensure they have the required experience and expertise for your system type; use processes that ensure the safety of your home, office, and occupants; and comply with standardised industrial practices. 
  • Confirm if the service provider holds any state or relevant duct cleaning licenses.

Wrap Up

Like many trades, duct cleaning is subject to frauds and scams. Be wary of service providers that offer unusually and extraordinarily low rates or promise super-quick services. When you’ve decided to clean those air ducts, ensure you choose a qualified service provider to make sure the job is done right.

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