The main reason to have a clean and well-maintained air ventilation system in your home goes without saying; it keeps the air that you and your family breaths cleaner and safer, which keeps everyone healthier and it extends the life of your HVAC system by keeping components dust and debris-free longer. For people who suffer from allergies, clean air ducts can notably improve your breathing comfort indoors, especially during heavy pollen months.

To do a truly thorough and effective air duct cleaning, it’s best if you have a high-powered vacuum system with yards and yards of hoses to weave through every nook and cranny of your system. Your skilled, experienced, and certified One Hour Heating and Air experts bring everything needed to get the job done right on one truck, with technicians who are proficient and professional. Still, many homeowners may prefer to try a “do it yourself” approach first, and we understand that. While you may not get it as clean as a professional will, the following steps will get you to about 75-80% dust removal in your ducts. This goes for both attic and underground air duct systems.

Before we go any further, let us quickly clarify the two types of registers we’ll be discussing; supply and return.

Supply registers are vents that you find in walls, ceilings and floors through which your HVAC system “supplies” living spaces with heated or cooled air.

Return registers are the (usually) larger vents that suck in air from the living spaces, send it through a filter, and recycle it back out through the system.

Before you tackle duct cleaning yourself, have these items on hand:

  1. A vacuum: While a regular, everyday household vacuum with a hose attachment will work, this job is messy, so a heavier duty “shop vac” is recommended.
  2. Furnace filter. You will need a new, clean furnace filter. You can search online to find the exact size that works for your particular system or call One Hour Heating and Air and we will gladly give you a free consultation on what you need.
  3. Stiff-bristle brush: A brush with a handle works best. Think toilet brush or large paint brush.
  4. Screwdriver or Hex Driver: This will be used to remove and then replace whatever fasteners are holding your registers in place. In most cases, you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver or 1/4" hex driver.
  5. Rags or paper towels: These will be used to cover some of the registers while you clean others so that the dust you send airborne doesn’t filter out into other living spaces and make a bigger mess. You will find that the dust and debris you dislodge from the air ducts floats easily and spreads quickly.

Once you have your cleaning items, get started!

  • Leave your old furnace filter in place for now, it will keep the dust you’re about to loosen up from blowing into the fan motor.
  • Take your rags or paper towels and cover your supply air registers. To do this, simply lift the register, wrap the rag or paper towel over the top of it, and then set it back into place. The goal is just to keep the dust disturbed during the cleaning process from filtering out into other rooms.
  • Turn on your system’s fan by setting your thermostat to “fan on” and turning off “heat/cool” mode. Once only the fan is running, it will push the dust and debris along as you brush the ducts. (Note: If you don’t have a “fan only” option, you can run in heat mode.)
  • Get knocking and brushing! First, gently knock or tap on your duct work to dislodge any dust clumps that are heavier due to moisture or buildup. Then, start brushing the dust from your supply registers (ensuring that registers you are NOT working on remain covered by a rag or paper towel.) Reach in as far as your brush will allow. This is why a toilet brush is a good choice, since it tends to have a longer handle than most other stiff-bristle options.
  • Catch that dust! While you are brushing, the dust will blow out toward you because the system’s fan is on to move that dust out. Have your vacuum on and ready to catch it as it comes. Once the register is clean and you notice little to no debris still coming out, you can stop and remove the cover (rag or paper towel) and move on to the next register. The registers in the walls and ceilings will probably have small screws or other fasteners holding them in, while floor supply registers often just lift out. Repeat this with the return registers, brushing and sweeping as far back into the duct as you can. Once you have cleaned all the supply and return registers, you’re ready to move on to the blower compartment.

Blower compartment: Shut off the fan and furnace. The fan can be turned off at the thermostat, however, the furnace needs to be shut off using either its service switch or at your home’s electrical panel. When power is confirmed to be off, remove the panels on the front of the furnace so you can access the blower compartment and return air boot. Now, you can safely vacuum out what will no doubt be a good amount of dust and other debris particles. You should also clean the furnace fan while you have the front of the unit open.

Install new furnace filter: This will cap off all of the cleaning you’ve just done and ensure your system is cycling fresher, healthier air through your home. If you share your home with pets, you should plan to change out your filter more frequently. Better quality air filters catch and collect dust and debris more effectively, so they tend to need changing more often. The notable benefit to you and your family of having healthier air to breath is usually considered to offset the cost of changing air filters more often.

Removing dust and debris from your air ducts as a DIY project can be pretty straightforward. However, there are two circumstances where you should really opt to let your One Hour Heating and Air professionals take over from the start. If you notice evidence of visible mold growth or rodent intrusion inside your air ducts or on any components of your HVAC system, contact our experienced professionals immediately. Mold and vermin both require elevated levels of response and our technicians are specially trained to handle each of these situations effectively and completely.

Don’t risk damaging your heat pump if it freezes completely or develops icy buildup. One Hour Heating and Air will send a highly-trained, licensed and insured technician to your home to find the most effective and cost-efficient solution to your comfort system’s particular issue. Our professionals are your go-to HVAC team in Charlotte and the surrounding area, including Indian Trail, Concord, and Mooresville.

Call our 24/7 customer service line today (704) 703-4220.