I was wondering if anyone could suggest the easiest way to clean out
ducts. For the most part they run straight from the basement up to
the various floors except for one duct that has a turn.
Thanks very much,
<< I was wondering if anyone could suggest the easiest way to clean out ducts.
Duct cleaning is a totally useless chore. It is virtually never routinely done
in public buildings for a very good reason: filtered air in the system deposits
practically nothing in the ducts. Save your energy for washing windows,
painting the living room, whatever. Any HVAC tech can attest to having seen 40
year old ducts that are still serviceably clean. There are exceptions of
course, like if a major dust storm blew through the house, or a herd of rodents
died in the ducts. HTH
I am recalling, years back when I was an electrical apprentice, I was
working on a University General Library. They had added on a section to the
building for added book stacks, and the air circulation system needed
upgrading. The building was built around 1908, and up in the fan room there
was a huge squirrel cage fan with a large flat pulley, and on the floor was
an electric motor, 5 horsepower, with a wooden pulley wheel on it. This
worked a leather strap belt around the fan pulley, and the starter for the
motor was a hand operated star starting and delta run motor starter. We
upgraded the motor to 10 horsepower and changed the belts to four V belts
and pulleys to match, along with a new motor starter down in the lower
service room. The air flow would be much greater with the new system. The
electrical foreman had warned the General Superintendent of the General
Contractor that with the increased air flow, dust that had settled into the
ducts since 1908 might start moving through the system and out into the
rooms. The General scoffed at this and paid little attention.
When the installation was completed, we tested the motor for rotation and
then turned it off. The foreman instructed that when it was ready to turn
on for operation, I was to just turn on the power switch, and not start the
motor with the push button starter. Let the General Superintendent do that.
The day arrived, and the General Superintendent came to the electrical
foreman and told him to start the new fan system. The electrical foreman
motioned for me to turn on the power switch. I did that and then backed
away from the starter and motioned to the General Superintendent to go ahead
and push the green button on the starter, that he could have the honors. He
advanced toward the starter and pushed the green button. The starter banged
into position. We couldn't hear the motor start, or the fan running because
they were way up in the fan room. But soon we heard women screaming down
the hall in the offices. I went out into the hall and down the hall about a
hundred feet to the main office. There was a large window glass in the
corridor wall to the office. I looked into the large room, with a high
ceiling, and it was like looking into a fog. The women in there were
struggling to cover their typewriters and paperwork, and then running out of
there into the corridor. Similar occurrences were happening throughout the
building. The General Superintendent came out into the corridor and saw
what was happening and, in a panic, asked how to turn it off. I told him to
go back to the starter and push the red button. He ran back into the
service room and pushed the red stop button and slowly the devastation began
The air ducts were large enough to crawl through, and the University got a
crew to get into these old ducts and, as thoroughly as possible, clean them.
Those visions are as clear to me today as though they had just happened
Are you sure you want to clean them? I know a lot of people make money
cleaning them, but why? Most don't need it. If you are truly in need of
getting them cleaned due to mold or Allergy ;problems, you will likely want
professionals to do the work right, as opposed to a householders approach.
By professional, I don't mean the We will clean your ducts for $140 whole
house guys. I mean the guys who really do the job.
There are lots of ways. with what you have available at home for do it
yourself, you have two choices as I see it.
1. Do it right, dissembling all the ductwork possible, using brushes
made for the job brush them out and then where possible do a wet cleaning
and then sanitize them with a surface disinfectant. Re-assemble.
2. Well, there is no 2.
Complexity and added problems like handling flex duct and ducts are are
not assessable add to the problem.
Professionally they have two general classes of cleaning.
1. The basic blow it out and maybe a little brushing cleaning, that does
almost nothing in reality, but comprises 95% of all the cleaning people buy.
2. The real job which involves a far more complex and complete version
of the first #1 using equipment and materials and knowledge that is not
going to be available to the individual and will cost you a lot more than
#1, but will do the job. Note, that each job is custom and what is done
will depend on the reason it is being done. For example it may require
special coatings inside the ducts to prevent things like mold from becoming
Did it here a couple years ago. 40 yr house with all galv rect ducts.
The returns were encrusted with a 1" thick layer of dust, animal fur,
lint...you name it. The supply ducts weren't near as bad but were dirty.
I cut access openings where needed (made panels to screw on later)
and used a big ShopVac with long hoses to get the worst out.
Then ran a snake the length of the duct and attached huge wads
of (dampened) rags to the end. Pulled thru several times.
On the last pull we added a bit of bleach to the damp rag.
Left the ducts open for a day or so and they dried out very promptly.
Did it all make a big difference?
Not much:-( The effect on indoor air quality doesn't seem to be
much, though the HEPA filters I'm using now at the furnace don't clog
up nearly as fast.
There will be disagreement over this final step: Dust and animal fur
are a big problem here. So I placed very coarse filters behind the
return air grilles. Change them every few months. Amazing the amount
of debris they have caught *before* it gets into the return ductwork.
Since the material is so coarse, the effect on blower volume has been
Its your money, but give ya a hint...90% of that is a scam...
We dont offer it, and never have.
Never seen ducts that needed cleaning that bad either...and thats after
thousands of inspections and installations..
Duct cleaning. The only ducts I've seen that actually needed cleaning are
the return ducts where the equipment filters are located downstream at the
equipment from the return inlet.
indago related a great story as the older HVAC system used low level
velocity to do the job, and as a result, dust does accumulate in the older
supply branches. [I've personally experience something similar.]
Take the outlet register [grilles] off the wall, and do an inspection. If
it looks generally clean, then it is unlikely you need them [ducts] cleaned.
Some homeowner neglect to clean / replace filters, and sometimes the
evaporator coils get clogged and need aggressive cleaning. The best way to
find out is to look yourself.
"Steve@carolinabreezehvac" < email@example.com> wrote
I popped for duct cleaning w/ my new furnace. I've had birds in the
house for a while, and construction, and the old furnace smells like the
first day of heat, every time it kicks on.
Seems like a good idea to me, but I've a special situation. Ever had an
supply air duct fill up with bird seed and debris? <G> Not to mention an
cold air return that was at floor level, which would pull in debris when
sweeping or cleaning. I've moved the intake to above baseboard level to
help with that problem.
Just throw a couple of cats in the duct work. They will chase each other
all through the system and knock the dust loose. Then fire up the
system and clean all the rooms again. You wife will love you for this
wonderful solution. ;-0
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