DIY Duct Cleaning
We at TTADC strongly recommend not trying this yourself, the chances of dust disturbance not being properly removed are great. You should always hire a professional duct cleaner for your air duct cleaning.
Cleaning the duct work in your home is important for many reasons. It can help to cut down on the dirt that causes additional wear and tear on the systems components, lessen the frequency of how often we dust and ultimately it helps to clean the air that we breathe while in our home. For those of us with allergies, this should be a welcome improvement.
Assuming most of us don’t own a high powered, truck mounted vacuum system with 150 foot hoses or perhaps can’t afford the cost of such service, I am going to tell you how you can clean your ducts yourself. Sure, you won’t be able to reach every nook and cranny but you can still eliminate roughly 85% of the dust in your system without spending anymore than the cost of your new filter.
NOTE: There are many various duct system designs such as attic systems, underground systems, etc… The theory of these directions will be the same for these style units as applicable. For instance, you won’t be able to tap the underground ductwork; this doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in your air quality by applying the other steps of this process.
Changing Your Filter
Buying a better filter may be a bit more expensive but will definitely cut down on more of the dust in your home. With this in mind, the better the filter, the more often you should change it. As a filter becomes dirty, it restricts the airflow needed by the fan. This will result in the motor running hot and decrease the lifespan of the blower motor. There is no magic time frame for how often you should change your filter! It depends on your home, pets, and location.
Things You Need To Clean Your Air Ducts
- Furnace Filter - A new filter will definitely be needed when the job is done.
- Vacuum - A household type vacuum with a decent hose attached will work but a heavier duty “Shop-Vac” type unit is best if available.
- Brush - Something closely resembling a toilet brush would work best but a stiff bristle paint brush or something similar will do as well.
- Screwdriver or Hex Driver - There may be fasteners that hold some of your registers in place. You will need to use whatever tool is required by your register but is usually a Phillips screwdriver or 1/4″ hex driver.
- Paper Towels - These can be optional if you’re going to dust and sweep after cleaning your ducts anyways. Depending on how much dust is in your ducts, this may or may not be necessary. (Better safe than sorry if you’re not sure.)
Step by Step Duct Cleaning
Step 1 - Start by covering up your supply air registers with a paper towel to keep the dust down as you work. Simply lift the register, wrap the paper towel over top of it and replace it.
Step 2 - Set the thermostat to “fan on” and shut off the “heat/cool” mode so that only the fan is running while you start cleaning.
Step 3 - Make sure your filter is in place so that the dust you knock loose doesn’t end up getting pulled into the fan motor.
Step 4 - Knock loose any build up of dust in the duct work. Simply take the handle of your brush and begin tapping on any accessible duct work you have in the basement. This will help break up any areas where dust may have taken on moisture in the air and hardened to the sides of the duct.
Step 5 - Now you can start sweeping out the dust in your supply registers. With the hose near the register and running, lift the register. Use the hose to catch any dust that is being pushed out by the fan and proceed to sweep as far into the register’s piping as your hose can reach. Use your brush to scuff loose any built up dust in the register as needed. As you go through the house sweeping out the supply registers you can remove and dispose of the paper towels you’ve put in place.
Step 6 - Sweep out your return air registers. These will likely be fastened with a screw and require your tool to remove them. Again, brush and sweep as far back into the register piping or cavity as you can.
Step 7 - Shut the fan off at the thermostat and the power off to the furnace via the service switch or breaker panel. Do not just shut off the thermostat.
Step 8 - With the power off, you can now remove the panels on the front of the furnace so that you can access the blower compartment and the return air boot. You can now use your vacuum to sweep up the dust built up in the blower compartment and return air boot. This is where a large majority of your dust will be.
Gaining Access To Your Main Ducting
Though there are some areas of the air duct you couldn’t reach, these are areas that are not likely to contain a lot of dust and dirt. However, for those who are determined to get to everything you can, there are a couple more things you can do.
At the end of your rectangular duct work, if you have this style ducting, there are “end caps”. These are likely easy to remove by sliding the “drives” down off the duct and pulling the cap out of the “slips”. So long as the duct is not butting up against the wall, you should be able to reach your hose in through here and sweep out any dust you find. You could even use a flashlight to look inside the ducting and see dirty areas. Also, often duct work will have registers installed throughout the system to distribute air to the basement. If you remove these registers, you’ll gain even further access to the main trunk line.
Short of calling a professional air duct cleaning company, you have done a great job and will have made a significant dent in the amount of dust in your air and home.