It is familiar advice on the internet that the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends having central air ducts cleaned once every three to five years. However, some HVAC and duct installers say ducts should be cleaned every two years.

At industrial plants and commercial units periodic HVAC cleaning is part of the maintenance of the building: because of the nature of the work, for health and hygiene reasons, and to comply with health and safety standards. However, how often you should have your central air ducts cleaned at home is much less of an exact science. And that’s why in this article we are focusing more on the home setting. 


How often should central air ducts be cleaned at home?

For homeowners how often the central air ducts need to be cleaned really depends on the building: whether it is located in a dust/smoke prone area, how many inhabitants there are, lifestyle (such as smoking indoors/pets), if the premises has experienced water damage, and just generally how comfortable you feel. 

Many homeowners have their ducts cleaned before the allergy season – spring. Others like to have their ducts cleaned just before the onset of winter because doors and windows will be closed much of the time and the HVAC system will be pulling double duty.

There are a few indicators that may suggest it’s time for you to have your central air ducts cleaned. 


1. The house is always dusty

Dirty HVAC systems can recirculate dust-laden air throughout the house. If you notice your house becoming dusty shortly after you have cleaned there is a good chance that the ducts are blowing dust. How quickly dust particles accumulate in central heating/air-conditioning depends on lifestyle with pets (or smoking and cooking); prevailing smoke and dust in the area; and whether the HVAC system has a leak. 

Not all HVAC systems are the same. Different configurations of ductwork means some air ducts are more prone to accumulating dust.


2. Respiratory problems

Persistent coughs and colds are another indicator of dirty central air ducts. Mould is one of the biggest worries in Canadian homes, especially during wintertime, but respiratory problems can be triggered by things like pollen, pet dander and smoke. 

Check your registers, grills and diffusers for signs of accumulating debris. This can be re-circulated every time HVAC fans turn on, causing breathing difficulties, watery eyes and runny noses. Those with acute allergies will feel an even stronger effect.

It’s not just you: pets too can suffer eye and nose irritation, skin conditions and nausea because of poor indoor air quality.


3. You have just completed a major build or renovation

Construction dust gets into every nook and cranny around the house – and air ducts are no exception. In fact, if you keep your heating system running during the renovation (many people do to stave off cold drafts), you are introducing a lot of dust into the system. 

In such a case it is extremely advisable that central air ducts be cleaned immediately. Construction materials are known to cause health issues if inhaled. 


What to do if it’s time for you to have your air ducts cleaned?

Speak to an ODC office in your area. Most of our teams are NADCA and ASCS certified and bring years of experience cleaning residential, commercial and industrial air ducts. 

Worried having ducts cleaned will be expensive and difficult? Read about the duct cleaning process.

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