Considering air duct cleaning? What homeowners must know

(ARA) – Imagine 40 pounds of dust spread throughout your home, pushed into the air for you and your family to breathe up to seven times a day, via your heating and cooling system. Pretty gross thought, right? Well, unfortunately there is a high possibility that this is the exact situation in your house right now.

Through normal occupation in a home, a sizeable amount of contaminants, such as dander, dust and chemicals, are generated. In a typical six-room home, up to 40 pounds of dust is created annually through everyday living, according to NADCA: The HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated five to seven times per day, on average.

Your heating and cooling system can be considered the lungs of your home, taking in air and breathing it out. Generally, the cleaner the lungs, the cleaner the air in your home. That's why it's important to get a quality HVAC cleaning done on a regular basis. But beware, not everyone claiming to be an HVAC cleaning professional can do the job the right way.

There are some important things you need to consider so you avoid companies with unethical business practices or bad cleaning techniques:

  • Beware of fly-by-night companies who use scare tactics. Instead of actually cleaning a customer's HVAC system, these scam companies squeeze money out of their clients by causing them anxiety and worry. Homeowners are told they have mold and other toxic substances in their systems – claims which are most likely false and used merely to extort money.
  • Watch out for bait-and-switch coupons. Coupons and flyers advertising rock bottom prices on "whole house air duct cleaning" arrive in the mail daily for some households. These companies might come to your home for a very reasonable price, but once they are in, either do a subpar job, or switch to much higher costing cleaning services that often are not to industry standards.
  • Look for a professional who is a member of NADCA. Members include HVAC industry professionals, including air systems cleaning specialists, mold remediators and HVAC inspectors who follow strict industry standards. All members must have a certified Air System Cleaning Specialists (ASCS) on staff. Visit to find a member company near you.
  • Remember, not every house needs an HVAC cleaning. A quality company will do an inspection first and recommend a complete cleaning only if necessary. They should be able to point out debris buildup that is visible to the human eye, such as by removing a floor register and taking a picture with a digital camera.
  • A proper cleaning should not only involve a big hose stuck in your home's ductwork, but actual cleaning of the HVAC components as well. Homeowners should run through a checklist with the duct cleaner they hire to ensure everything is done properly. You can find a thorough checklist on

Cleaning your HVAC system can have many potential benefits. In addition to reducing contaminants and providing your home with better indoor air quality, you may enjoy energy savings as well. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. A clean HVAC system doesn't have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature, and therefore, less energy is used, helping you save money on your utility bill.