Should I Get My Air Conditioning Ducts Cleaned?

In Canada we had our heating ducts cleaned once every two years when we had our furnace and humidifier serviced. Now that we are looking to purchase a house in Australia that has central air conditioning we are having to consider if we should be cleaning these ducts as well …

The duct work in Canada was smooth, solid duct work like in the photo above. The duct work that is connected to the central air conditioner here in Australia however is not smooth or solid, it is flexible and corrugated.

Of course the companies doing duct cleaning will recommend that you get them cleaned at regular and reoccurring intervals, but even the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that there is no scientific proof that getting your ducts cleaned actually helps with air quality. Although there is anecdotal evidence (example) that cleaning the ducts increases air quality, the EPA states that:

Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning.

Reasons to get your ducts cleaned

The EPA does state that there are a few reasons that you should consider getting your ducts cleaned. They are:

  • There is substantial visible mould growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system.
  • Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects).
  • Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

If there is not those factors then cleaning your ducts provides no benefit.

What is more important in the maintenance of your air conditioning unit is to:

  • Check and change or clean the filters regularly
  • Make sure that the system is well maintained
  • Have regular inspections
  • Ensure that moisture is not entering the system

How much does duct cleaning cost in Australia?

I just actually called a company here in Adelaide to find out how much it would cost to get the air ducts cleaned in the house we are buying. To say I was shocked at the cost would be an under statement!

To clean the ducts, vents and return would cost $1087!

No wonder the air duct cleaning companies will tell you that regular cleaning is needed …

2 Replies to “Should I Get My Air Conditioning Ducts Cleaned?”

  1. JulieCurnow

    Hi Bill

    I found this old post of yours and was intrigued. 

    Air conditoning specialists in Australia have never routinely cleaned ducting. (Don, my husband, has been in the aircon industry in Perth and Melbourne for nearly 20 years and we have owned our aircon business called Air and Water for 7 years). 

    We struggle to see how you could clean flexible ducting used in houses without damaging it. Essentially Australian flexible ducting is foil covered insulation with metal spirals and so vacuuming it would be hard without damage (and access could be an issue). Solid metal ducting is only used in some commercial buildings.

    There should not be room for rodents to get in, unless they chew through the ducting (which does happen).

    You would minimise duct build up by vacuuming your return air filter regularly. 

    We trialed an Australian product called Fresh-a-Vac to see whether it would be worth adding when we service air conditioners – the idea being to place the fresh-a-vac just passed the ducted reverse cycle aircon return air grille intake. The tea tree oil would freshen the home and would reduce bacteria and fungi. It didn’t work well in practice as the smell was too strong initially (smelled like a hospital) and then died down too quickly.

    I hope you find my thoughts useful, before you get into another summer.

    Julie

  2. JamesSimon1

    I love that air conditioning is so effective these days. You can have a cool house at almost any time of year. That being said, the finer points of AC maintenance have escaped me for some time now. I’m glad that resources exist so that I can keep my system working well.
    http://www.kintoreair.com.au/domestic/ducted

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