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Step by Step DIY Air Duct Cleaning

Is your home really clean? When last did you poke your head into an air duct? Which option will you take? Some effort and a day of cleaning, or the risks & disadvantages of living with filthy vents?
It’s easy to forget that these crevices need your attention during your annual spring cleaning. You never see them, so most homeowners ignore them.  But a good clean up will cause the interior of your home to have fresher air and can even improve your health. Clean vents also allow the air-conditioning units to work more effectively. So are you ready for a DIY job?

Step by Step Tutorial

Don’t worry. General cleaning is fairly easy and any homeowner can try this. Ready?

What You Need
You will need general cleaning items, but remember you also have to remove some panels and components. Gather all the items before you start so you don’t have to call if off in the middle of your project to go to the hardware store.

Here’s your shopping list:
Vacuum cleaner: Check that it has a hose long enough to reach inside a vent. If it has a brush at the end, even better.

Brushes: Anything from a toilet brush to a paintbrush can work, as long as you don’t want to use it again afterward.

Towels: You can wipe with paper or fabric towels. Microfiber towels are the best since they will catch all the dust instead of simply dispersing it. They also won’t scratch metal panels.

Tools: You’ll need screwdrivers and a drill to take panels off & replace them afterward.

New filters: Some filters may need replacement.

What to Do
During your cleaning process you’ll handle various components:

Supply registers: Wrap their covers in towels at the start and put them in place again. This prevents dust from entering rooms via the registers, while you clean other parts of the system. When you’re done cleaning the entire system, clean these registers with your vacuum cleaner.

Filters: Loosen the ones you can and check them. Replace where needed. A new furnace filter can be more effective in keeping dust out of your home.

Ducts: You need to loosen dust inside the ducts by banging on them and using your brush. Use the vacuum cleaner to clear away any dust and debris you can reach.

Return registers: Their panels will most likely be fixed in place with screws. Take the screws out and give the grill a good clean with your brush and vacuum cleaner.

While you clean the ducts, put the fan function of your air conditioning on. The idea is that the dust you loosen should be channeled to exit the ducts, not simply settle down again.

Handy tip: Create a dynamic cleaning tool for small spaces by fixing a brush to the end of your drill. You’ll reach further than the brush can and when you switch on the drill the brush will quickly sweep the sides clean.

Call the Experts
While you’re more than welcome to try this yourself, I always keep a professional air duct cleaning expert’s contact details on hand. You never know what you’ll find while cleaning:

Repairs may be necessary

Pests may have infested a duct

If parts are stuck, rather call professionals before you damage your system

Do you think you’ll manage these steps? Don’t worry, you only have to do this once a year. Even though guests won’t see how clean your air ducts are, you can now be proud of every part of your home.


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