Signs Your Air Ducts Need Cleaning

Posted on 04/10/2019

Spring has sprung! After spending months sealed away in your house to keep the cold and snowy weather at bay, you can finally open your windows to let fresh air in and take a deep breath. 

Add air duct cleaning to your spring-cleaning checklist

But that feeling of relief you get after finally opening your home to the outside world might also be a sign of poor indoor air quality due to dirty air ducts. 

In the winter, your home’s HVAC system circulates air throughout all the rooms in your house to spread heat. However, due to the lack of proper ventilation during the winter months, the dirt, debris, and moisture caused by continuous wet weather begin to accumulate in your home and eventually find its way into your air ducts. Once in your ducts, the contaminants disperse through the air along with the heat leading to numerous potential respiratory problems, such as coughing, shortness of breath, and allergies. 

So how exactly can you tell if you need to add air duct cleaning to your spring-cleaning checklist? 

Dust, Pet Dander, and Dirt

Through everyday activities, we create a lot of dirt, dust, and dander that is tracked around the home by family and our furry companions. You can spend hours or days wiping down every surface of your home and tossing out any excess clutter as part of your spring cleaning, but dirt, dust, and harmful contaminants can still be lingering in your air ducts. 

After cleaning, you may notice a fine layer of dust form on furniture you just wiped down a few days ago. This might be a sign to get your air ducts cleaned as they could be blowing the built-up contaminants around your home. 

You can also tell if your air ducts need cleaning by checking your supply and return vents. If they are visibly dirty both inside and outside, then your ducts need to be cleaned. 


If you live in a humid climate, your heating and cooling system can develop condensation leading to mold growth in your ductwork. Mold is much more difficult to detect when it is hidden in your home but usually presents itself in the form of a musty odor. Common places to search for mold include basements, attics, underneath sinks, behind the fridge, and around your HVAC units. 

If you have experienced heavy rainfall or suspect water damage in your home, it’s best to play it safe and call a professional to inspect your air ducts for mold growth. 

Rising Energy Bills

Your ductwork directs air around your home to keep everyone comfortable. But when your air ducts are full of debris, those airways become blocked, making it more difficult for the air to flow. When this occurs, your system must work harder and more frequently to keep the preferred temperature. 

However, it isn’t always the accumulation of debris that causes your system to have to work harder. Any leaks you have in your ductwork is lost energy, decreasing the efficiency and increasing your energy bill. Hiring an air duct technician to clean your ducts won’t only remove harmful contaminants, but it could also rule out potential leaks. 

Hire a Professional

NADCA is the premiere organization certifying air duct cleaners. NADCA-certified professionals evaluate your home’s air ducts both before and after the cleaning to determine if the cleaning was successful. They will also inspect and clean other parts of your home’s ventilation system if needed. 

Visit the Find an Air Duct Cleaning Professional feature on NADCA’s website to find a certified air duct cleaner in your area.