Air Duct Cleaning

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated April 23, 2012)


Everything in the world gets dirty at some point or another, and it is no different with your air ducts. Unfortunately, this is one time when out of site and out of mind won't really be of any help. Periodic air duct cleaning is something that every homeowner should do, and frankly isn't all that difficult as long as you take the right precautions.

Materials needed:

  • Industrial duct cleaning vacuum
  • Regular vacuum cleaner
  • Vent covers
  • Drop cloths
  • Vent cover (made or bought, your choice)
  • Trash bags
  • Rags
  • Vacuum bags
  • Cleaning brush
  • Goggles
  • Screwdriver
  • Heavy-duty gloves


  1. Gather equipment. Before you can begin doing the actual cleaning, you need to gather the equipment that you will be using. The list is provided above, and any items that you don't have should be available for rent or purchase at your local home improvement store. If you can't find an industrial strength duct cleaning vacuum for rent though, don't worry. You can use a shop vacuum with a little modification.
  2. Prepare work area. Once you have all your items, you need to begin preparing your work area. This basically means that you need to place a drop cloth over everything in your home (to help prevent any accidental dirt or dust blowout), and attach vent covers to all your vents, except one. That one vent, you need to remove the grate, and then stick the vacuum attachment to it. If you have to use a shop vacuum, modify a vent cover enough so that you can put the vacuum hose through it, and seal it shut with some tape.
  3. Read instructions. If you managed to get a hold of an industrial strength duct cleaning vacuum, make sure that you carefully read the instructions, or reread them, before you turn the system on. This will ensure that you are using it properly, and don't inadvertently damage the vacuum or your HVAC system.
  4. Start the vacuum. After you have prepared your work area, and finished familiarizing yourself with the instructions, turn on the vacuum. Allow it to run for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Stop the vacuum. Once you have allowed the time to pass, turn the vacuum cleaner off. Remove the housing on the vacuum, and check the bag or container to see if it needs to be emptied. If it does, empty it.
  6. Repeat. Repeat steps four and five until you no longer see any dirt, debris, or detritus being accumulated into the bag or container. This may require you to change out the vacuum bag several times, so be sure that you have plenty of spares.
  7. Clean vent grates. Remove the vent covers from your vents, and take the time to clean both the exterior and interior of them. All you should really need to do is work a cleaning brush over them, but depending on how dirty they are, you may need to wash them in some warm soapy water. Use a mild degreasing dish soap to help you get the really dirty grates clean.
  8. Clean up. Before reattaching your grate covers, take the opportunity to clean up the rest of the house. Carefully remove and dispose of any drop cloths, if you are determined to reuse them, carefully clean them outside. Vacuum the interior of your home, or otherwise clean the home to remove any missed dirt and dust. Replace the cleaned vent grates, and you are finished.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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What is 1 + 8?

2012-04-23 04:21:04

Pierre Laberge

Be very careful in cleaning ducts especially as regards:

1) Make sure your furnace and A/C are off at the time, by cutting power to them. You don;t want then firing up as you are working on the ducts.

2) Do not go too near to your furnace or plenum with the vacuum equipment, you could knock dirt or other things into there that could cause damage.

3) Some pieces of duct work will have somewhere in them, "baffles". A baffle is a plate that acts as a sort of valve to control air flow. You do not want to damage them with the cleaning equipment.

4) Wearing gloves and goggles is a good idea, so is wearing a dust mask you you do not breathe in dirt and dust.

5) Depending on the size of the house and complexity of the duct system, this can be very tiring work. Take some breaks, and stay hydrated. If you think the job will take "only an hour or so", you are likely wrong: It will likely take a fair bit longer to do the job than you thought.

6) Be careful in all you do.

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