Does Air Duct Cleaning make a Mess

Does Air Duct Cleaning make a Mess? – What you Really Need to Know


If you have a ducted air system in your home, you have probably wondered how often you should clean it, and then how exactly do you do it? You may even question yourself as to how messy of a job it would be!

Cleaning your air duct system is a job you should leave for the professionals. It can be a messy job, but if your home is prepped before the professional’s arrival, the mess will be minimal with an easy clean-up.

How to Reduce the Mess Made While Having Your Air Ducts Cleaned!

Preparing your home for minimal mess!

Once you’ve scheduled an appointment with a professional company to come and clean your home air ducts, it is time to do some light cleaning prior to their arrival.

YES!! – This might sound silly, but trust me, it will save you much irritation and cleaning time once they leave.

Once the air duct cleaners arrive, you don’t want to start moving chairs and tables or clearing debris and dust from surfaces. This will only slow down the process. The idea is to have the house ready and ensure all the areas are easily accessible for the professional cleaning team. A great idea is to put all ornaments, magazines, and any other movables into drawers or into bags and put them away into a cupboard. This will ensure that they do not get dusty or full of debris during the cleaning process. Put the children’s toys into toy boxes in advance and clear out any jackets and shoes from the entrance hall. If you have a home office put away your computers and files or any other paperwork that might collect debris from the air duct cleaning.

If you have a separate TV room with expensive surround sound systems and play stations with remote controls and headsets, pack them away as any amount of dust can get stuck in the headsets or other equipment.  Ensuring these areas are clean expedites the service.

Cleaning anything creates at least a small amount of mess. Cleaning an entire home is no exception. Since air ducts are in most of the rooms in your house you will definitely see some dust and debris inside your home. Professionals clean air ducts using a high suction machine which minimizes the amount of mess generated in your home.

So in a nutshell, yes, air duct cleaning makes a mess! But not half as much as if you attempt to do it yourself. This is work best left to the professionals.

Don’t clean your air ducts on your own as you don’t have any training or knowledge on cleaning them. If you don’t know what you are doing and don’t have the right equipment you will end up making a lot of mess in your home. Air duct cleaning involves the usage of powerful equipment to blow and suck the debris and dirt from inside the air ducts that are in rooms around your home.

The air ducts are connected to air vents in your home, and during the cleaning process, the debris will come out of all the air vents. Unfortunately, your entire home will feel dusty, and you will see bits of unsightly debris that have formed in the air ducts over time. However, the plus point is, if you hire professionals to do the cleaning the mess will be minimal.  

How do the Professionals Keep the Mess to a Minimum?   

Most professionals use the negative pressure method. They attach a strong vacuum into the mainline. Since the whole air duct is under negative pressure, the professionals go to each room, one at a time, and move debris from that branch line to the mainline, and it is then removed by the suction vacuum.

The negative pressure method helps reduce blow-back of dust during the duct cleaning. The pressure exerted is so high, that all the debris flows directly into the mainline. Vent covers contribute significantly to this cleaning process, by creating more suction and stopping the dust to exit from them and into your home.  

However, this is not a full-proof plan. If the air vents are extremely dirty there is a possibility that some amount of dust will come out of them and into the room. The amount will be minimal and won’t create a lot of mess. Additionally, the professionals will clean them up once they are done with cleaning the air ducts.

Can Air Duct Cleaning cause damage?

Yes, air duct cleaning can cause damage if not done professionally and under expert supervision.

These are the things you should know when having your air ducts cleaned:

  • Flexible Ductwork: Flex ducts consist of a spring wrapped with a very fragile layer of plastic. A layer of insulation covers this thin plastic and blocks the heat from getting in or out of the duct. Around that is the outside cover of the duct itself. Over time the fragile layer of plastic surrounding the spring can become even more fragile due to the heat inside your attic or the walls of your home. This type of ductwork is most vulnerable to damage during a cleaning. The older the ductwork, the greater likelihood of damage. 
  • Aluma Flex Ductwork: This is a solid corrugated interior design covered by insulation beneath the outside cover of the duct itself. Consequently, less causing damage during cleaning and is actually easier to clean because the ductwork is less flexible and more durable.
  • Rigid (also called Solid Sheet Metal or KD) Ducting: Rigid ducting is made of solid sheet metal that is usually rated between 28-24 gauge. This ducting has the most integrity of all duct work if it is installed properly with the right sealant and insulation. This type of duct has the least amount of risk for additional damage and best results for duct cleaning.

All of these types of ductwork include sheet metal distribution wires to help properly direct airflow to different areas of the home and balancing dampers to properly distribute airflow, sealant, straps, and duct tape to properly secure the ducts. 

An HVAC specialist can thoroughly inspect your ductwork to determine the type of ducts and the condition of the various hangers and sealing points. Failure to do so could result in damage to the ductwork, resulting in impaired efficiency and potential future repair expense. For example, the roto brush used to clean the air duct can easily get caught in your balancing dampers, rip or disconnect improperly sealed or secured duct work. 

Professional duct cleaning services will do a thorough inspection before quoting on the duct cleaning. They will point out whether asbestos is present in the ducts or the cladding. Asbestos could be present in older homes and would need to be removed prior to the cleaning as breathing in asbestos is known to contain cancer-causing material that will become airborne during the duct cleaning process.

Is Air Duct Cleaning a Waste of Money?

There is a one-word answer to this question – NO!

As a homeowner, you do regular maintenance on the electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and paintwork of your home. This keeps your home running efficiently and looking in tip-top shape for guests and passers-by. Keeping your air ducts clean is no different, in fact, it is rather important to keep clean air flowing through your home. Keeping your home’s HVAC system well-maintained means saving on operational costs, good indoor air quality, and most of all, if you or a family member suffers from seasonal allergies a regular cleaning of the air ducts will rid them of the pollen, grasses, or dust that are allergy-causing. If you have pets, their hair could become stuck in an air vent causing the system to run less efficiently.

What To Expect When You Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned?

Decide beforehand whether you and your family are going to remain home during the cleaning process. It might be a good idea to let the children go on a playdate or visit family during this process as the heavy-duty machinery used is noisy and can be irritable to a child’s sensitive ears. Another factor to consider is the dust particles that might be blown into the house, besides all precautions being taken, this might lead to difficulty in breathing, especially for younger children.

What About Your Pets?

If you are a pet owner, you need to consider their safety during the cleaning process. If you have large dogs that are potentially protective and aggressive you also need to consider the safety of the technicians.  Your pets may need to be confined to an area away from the workspace or consider asking a friend to have them over while the experts clean. If you decide to leave your pet at home be sure to inform the technicians.  The contractors can clean one room first and you can secure your pets in that room for their safety during the cleaning process.

If You Have Decided To Leave Your Home

If you have decided to vacate your house during the cleaning process you need to wait for the cleaning team to arrive and inform them of any special requirements as detailed below. 

Points To Discuss With The Supervisor In Charge Of Cleaning Your Air Ducts:

  • Give the professionals a walkthrough of the premises. Make sure to point out the vents and other openings that lead into the rooms or house.
  • Discuss protection of your furniture or valuables and show the contractors where they should use drop cloths and corner guards’ placement for instance.
  • Explain to the contractor how to keep your home secure and where to drop the keys after the service is complete and other such pertinent information if you are leaving the home.
  • Make certain to ask any of your questions before they get started.
  • Lastly, ask the contractors whether there is any additional information that they require before you leave.

On your return home enjoy breathing in the fresh clean air provided by professionally cleaned air ducts, knowing your family can breathe allergen-free air!!

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