When To Hire Professionals for Air Vent Cleaning

air vent cleaning

What Is Air Vent Cleaning?

There are two benefits to regular air vent cleaning: it improves your indoor air quality and it improves your HVAC efficiency. 

First, let’s clear the air about the difference between air vent cleaning and air ductwork cleaning. Many people think they are the same, but they are not. Air vent cleaning is not the same thing as air duct cleaning. Your ductwork is the circulatory system of your HVAC system, both distributing conditioned air as well as removing stale air. The air vents are the entrance points for the ductwork in each room of your home. Related, but not the same.

A properly functioning HVAC system maintains a balanced environment inside the ductwork, meaning that the amount of air the ducts blow out is nearly equal to the amount of air sucked back into the ductwork. If the supply and return vents are dirty or blocked, the pressure inside the ducts becomes unbalanced, causing your home to feel less comfortable. Moreover, your HVAC system’s efficiency is less than optimal, resulting in higher operating costs and more frequent repairs.  

Another key difference between ductwork and air vents is that, for the most part, you can do air vent cleaning yourself as part of regular household maintenance. Ductwork cleaning is usually best performed by an HVAC technician. You can generally take care of air vent cleaning yourself; however, some circumstances require hiring professionals to perform air vent cleaning. 

If you’re trying to figure out whether you need to hire someone for air vent cleaning, take a closer look at: 

  • What is an air vent?
  • How to maximize air vent performance
  • Signs that your home needs air vent cleaning 
  • How to perform air vent cleaning yourself
  • How often to perform air vent cleaning
  • When to call a professional for air vent cleaning
  • Is air duct cleaning a waste of money?

What Is an Air Vent?

There are two types of air vents:

  • Return
  • Supply

The return air vent sucks in the air that is in a room back into your HVAC system. That returned air is conditioned at your furnace or air handler, meaning either heated or cooled, and is distributed via ductwork to a supply air vent that sends conditioned air back into your living spaces. 

Each room in your home has at least one return air vent and one supply air vent[This is incorrect. Most homes have only one or two return vents. Look up a diagram on Google to know what I mean by that.]. How can you tell the difference between a supply air vent and a return air vent? Since the return air event is sucking air out of a room, you won’t feel any air blowing out of it. By the same token, since a supply air vent is blowing air into a room, you can feel the air when you put your hand in front of it. [This is only if your house’s HVAC unit is currently on. Also, many newer units don’t blow air as hard as older ones and it’s hard to even tell that it’s on.]

How big are these air vents? That depends on your HVAC system and the internal ductwork in your house. Return air vents are generally larger than supply air vents. Air vents are typically square or rectangular in shape. 

How To Maximize Air Vent Performance

It’s easy to ignore your air vents. But there are a few things you can do to ensure they operate properly:

  • Optimize airflow: Don’t block air vents with furniture or other objects that obstruct air.
  • Avoid closing supply vents in any room, even unused rooms, which can cause increased or unbalanced pressure inside your ductwork. To save energy in unused or rarely used rooms, instead consider a zoned HVAC system

Signs That Air Vent Cleaning Is Needed

Air vent cleaning is in order when you notice any of the following:

  • Dust or dirt accumulated around vents
  • Perceptible decrease in air quality
  • Unpleasant odors
  • A spike in energy bills

Note that if you see any of these signs, don’t wait to address them. You may remember that you just cleaned them a few months back and think you can wait and get around to it the next time you do a regular household air vent cleaning. Keep in mind that your vents are circulating air throughout your home. So if you notice a lot of dirt on a vent, or if something seems off either in terms of smell or freshness, that’s a problem affecting not just one room, but your entire house. In addition to keeping the air you breathe as free from contaminants as possible, air vent cleaning helps improve the efficiency of your HVAC system. When debris clogs your air vents, your HVAC system has to work harder, making it less efficient, which results in a higher energy bill. And over the long term, an inefficient HVAC system leads to more repairs and a shorter lifespan of your furnace. 

How To Perform Air Vent Cleaning

Follow these steps for air vent cleaning:

  1. Turn off your HVAC system; if you clean the vents while the HVAC is running, any dust and debris stirred up during the cleaning process can be drawn into the system and cause damage.
  2. Remove vent covers with a screwdriver.
  3. Wipe the vent covers with a damp microfiber cloth. 
  4. If the air vent covers are really dirty, scrub the vent covers with a soft-bristled brush and warm, soapy water. 
  5. Use a vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool to remove any visible dirt or debris in the vents. 
  6. Reattach the vent covers once they are dry. 
  7. Repeat for all the rooms in your home.
  8. Turn your HVAC system back on.

How Often To Perform Air Vent Cleaning

It’s always better to perform regular maintenance rather than allow a problem to arise. Air vent cleaning every three to six months helps keep dust and contaminants out of your HVAC system and out of your lungs. In addition, regular household cleaning helps keep dust, dirt, and pet dander out of your air vents and your home’s ductwork in the first place. A good rule of thumb is to perform air vent cleaning at the same time as your seasonal HVAC maintenance.

When To Call a Professional for Air Vent Cleaning

Air vent cleaning is something anyone can do; there are no handyman skills required. There are, however, a few cases where you might need a professional for air vent cleaning. If interested, we have a DIY guide for air duct cleaning.

  • Mold. The presence of mold is a potentially serious health risk; it requires mitigation to identify the source of the mold and remove it safely.
  • Excessive dirt build-up. If you see a lot of dust build-up not only on your vents, but on your furniture, that comes back soon after you perform air vent cleaning, dirt is somehow getting into your ductwork. That requires a thorough inspection to get to the source of the problem and correct it, which may require a complete ductwork cleaning with professional tools.

The best way to keep a clean home environment and ensure your HVAC system is running properly is to consult a certified HVAC specialist with a demonstrated record of professional service and integrity. Ongaro and Sons is your reliable choice for quality service and 100% satisfaction. Schedule a thorough air vent cleaning and associated HVAC maintenance appointment with us at your earliest convenience.