Does Your Home Need Duct Cleaning?

Spring will be here before we know it – the groundhog said so, so it must be true, right? For many Louisville area homes, spring means a good cleaning – is duct cleaning on your to-do list? If it’s not, should it be?

A home’s ducts are often overlooked as a source of filth, as they are hidden out of sight below floors, overhead in ceilings, and within walls. However, the contaminants that build up within them pose problems to the home, its HVAC equipment, and its occupants.

Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing’s NATE-certified heating and cooling professionals share information about duct cleaning service and when you should have it performed in your home. If you have questions about duct cleaning or to schedule service, please contact us today!

Are Contaminants Hidden Throughout Your Home?

As air circulates about your home, so do contaminants. These microscopic particles float and move with air movement, then eventually settle out of your airflow and onto surfaces. In the same way, your shelves, tables, and other furniture accumulates dust and dirt, so do your ducts.

Because your ducts do not receive a regular cleaning, these contaminants build up within the system. They also get picked back up by the airflow and moved back into your living areas. Other sources add contaminants directly to the duct system, such as infiltrations from duct leaks, mold and mildew growth, and pest infestations within your ducts.

In addition to settling on surfaces and creating a mess, your family members are also exposed to the contaminants carried in from your ducts. Allergen exposure increases, causing more frequent symptoms amongst those sensitive to certain contaminants. Mold spreads to other areas of the home and potentially causes serious health issues to those exposed. Contaminants that build up and remain within the duct system lead to unpleasant odors in the home and negatively affect your HVAC system’s performance and efficiency.

Steps the Pros Take to Clean Ducts

Thankfully, the issues mentioned above are remedied by professional duct cleaning service. Using specialized tools and techniques, a qualified HVAC technician removes contaminant buildup from the home’s ductwork while protecting this important component of the ventilation system.

Before duct cleaning service begins, the home’s duct system is inspected by the technician. At this time, he or she looks at the condition of the ductwork, the level of contaminants inside, and components that are made with asbestos-containing materials – it is critical that any components of the duct system that contain asbestos are not disturbed to protect against asbestos exposure.

Once the inspection is complete, equipment is set up and duct cleaning begins. The process is done on both the supply ducts and return ducts, as these duct runs are not connected.

Duct Cleaning Steps

  1. The technician locates an access point to allow entry into the duct system, usually in a spot near the home’s air handler. In some cases, a hole has to be cut through the wall and duct to provide access.
  2. A hose is run from the access point to the vacuum outside, connecting the two.
  3. Registers, diffusers, and grilles over entrances to the duct system are covered.
  4. The vacuum starts up, causing negative pressure in the ductwork. The vacuum sucks loose debris out of the duct system and into its receptacle.
  5. The technician uses special brushes to remove debris adhered to the interior of the ducts.
  6. Vent covers, diffusers, registers, and grilles are removed and cleaned, as well as the area within the ducts where they connect. Once finished, the technician reinstalls these components.
  7. The HVAC system’s heat exchanger and evaporator coil are thoroughly cleaned to remove debris caked onto these components as well as loose debris within the chambers they sit.
  8. When the duct cleaning procedure is finished, equipment is disconnected from the duct system and removed from the home. Repairs are made if access holes were cut to perform the service.

A thorough duct cleaning takes a few hours to perform. When you schedule this service, expect it to last between three to five hours. The duration depends on the size of the home, the type of ductwork, number of HVAC systems, ductwork, and HVAC system accessibility, and the level of contamination inside the ducts. If more than one technician is available to perform service during your appointment, the process goes faster.

Don’t Try to DIY Duct Cleaning

As tempting as it is to DIY home maintenance projects and save money, duct cleaning is one task you do not want to attempt on your own. Without the proper knowledge and equipment, you risk damaging your ductwork. DIY duct cleaning attempts create risks of loosened connections and tears to flex ducting, which in turn creates air leaks in your duct system.

Air leaks in your ducts make it harder for your HVAC system to effectively heat and cool your home, which causes the system to consume more energy – system efficiency and indoor comfort decline as your energy bills rise. Additionally, air leaks allow contaminants to enter the duct system, creating dirtier ducts and diminishing the home’s indoor air quality.

Also, duct cleaning covers more than just your ducts. Other components like your HVAC system’s heat exchanger and evaporator coil collect contaminants that are recirculated with airflow. If these components are not also cleaned, it is able to circulate into your living areas and back into the duct system. When an HVAC technician performs duct cleaning, other essential components of your HVAC system receive proper cleaning, too. The technician’s knowledge and experience allow him or her to perform these other cleaning procedures properly, protecting the integrity of these important parts of your heating and cooling system.

When Should I Schedule Duct Cleaning?

Ducts do not need cleaned on a regular basis – this service is not like a preventive maintenance tune-up for your heating or cooling system that needs to be done annually. It is recommended that you schedule duct cleaning as needed when you notice or suspect a problem like the ones below.

Musty Smells

When a musty smell persists throughout your living areas, it is possible that mold and mildew have developed within the ducts or in the HVAC system. This smell subsides between heating and cooling cycles when air does not cycle through the system and ducts before reaching your living areas.

Mold growth may be visible on the HVAC system’s evaporator coil or within the drip pan, but mold growing in ducts is more difficult to identify. Mold thrives in warm, moist conditions, which may be present in areas of the duct system that are inaccessible. It is important to find the location of mold and mildew growth, remove it, and remedy its cause right away to prevent further spread and exposure inside the home – duct cleaning addresses these concerns.

Pest Issues

Pests enter the duct system through various means, leaving behind destruction as well as unwanted contaminants. They set up camp and nest in the ducts, use the ducts to move around the house, and potentially live their last days within. A pest infestation involving mice, rodents, cockroaches, and other insects produces traces of their presence in the ducts even after the pests have left. Droppings and carcasses as well as other matter can carry disease and harm the home’s occupants when exposed as air circulates. If you have or had a pest problem within your duct system, duct cleaning is necessary along with repairs to prevent future issues.

Excess Contaminants in Home

If you experience a heavier volume of debris coming out the duct system’s supply vents, this indicates contaminant buildup inside. With greater accumulation of contaminants, they are more likely to be picked up by moving air and carried into your home. Have your ducts cleaned to eliminate buildup.

Unexplainable Allergy Symptoms

Those who suffer from allergies can be very sensitive to dirty ducts, as the contaminants inside may be common allergens. When allergens are left behind in the ducts, they eventually recirculate into the home, where exposure leads to allergy symptoms. If you are unable to pinpoint the source of allergy symptoms in your home, give duct cleaning a try.


Renovations and other home construction projects create a lot of debris. It’s easy for tiny particles of sawdust, insulation fiber, and drywall dust to become airborne, circulate, and settle in the ducts of a home. With projects that involve lead paint removal or asbestos abatement, it is critical to contain materials and remove them from the home, or else they become a hazard to occupants.

Vents and other access points into the duct system need to be sealed before a project begins and stay sealed until it is finished and fully cleaned up – but sometime, this important step is skipped. This includes new home construction, as the amount of construction debris and contaminants are high during the building process. Anytime you finish a significant renovation or construction project in your home, or when you move into a newly built home, have the ducts cleaned.

Moving into a New Home

If you move to a house that was formerly occupied by someone else, it’s a good idea to have duct cleaning performed. You don’t know the former occupant’s habits or what went on in the house that could have left contaminants behind in the duct system. Smoking in the home, indoor pets, past pest problems, and more may have created contaminant buildup in the duct system. Give your duct system a fresh start, too, by having it professionally cleaned.

Call Jarboe’s for Duct Cleaning in Louisville

If you have dirty ducts in your Louisville area home, don’t wait while hidden contaminants build up even further! Call Jarboe’s today to schedule a duct cleaning appointment for your home. Our NATE-certified heating and cooling technicians thoroughly clean out your entire duct system and related HVAC system components to eliminate the hidden contaminants causing issues in your home. We take great care to protect your duct system from damage and avoid spreading dirt, dust, and debris to your living areas.

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