How to Clean HVAC Ducts

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After many years of air flowing through your HVAC ducts, they are likely to build up a layer of dust and debris. As the dust and debris builds up, you may notice your airflow reducing due to the decreased volume of the ducts and the increased static pressure. To restore airflow and efficiency, you will need to clean your HVAC ducts. You should be able to do it yourself if you have basic home improvement skills.

Things You'll Need

  • Cordless drill
  • Wet/dry vacuum cleaner
  • Tape measure
  • Snips
  • Sheet metal
  • Sheet metal screws
  • Silicone caulk
  • Caulk gun
  • Unscrew each HVAC grille in your home and set aside. This will allow you access into your HVAC ducts.

  • Plug your wet/dry vacuum cleaner into the nearest outlet to the first HVAC grille. Using a flexible hose attachment, slowly push the hose into the duct. Work it in and out to remove as much as the dirt as possible. Screw each HVAC grille back into place.

  • Measure the length of your vacuum cleaner hose to get an idea of how deep you were able to clean the ducts from the grilles. Go into your basement and transfer that measurement on to the duct trunks. You will be able to identify where each grille is by where the duct runs penetrate up through the basement ceiling.

  • Cut access holes into the duct trunks in your basement with snips. The access hole should be big enough to work the vacuum cleaner hose through the duct and also to enable you to take a peek inside with a flashlight. Position the holes in locations that allow maximum reach both ways with your vacuum cleaner hose, while minimizing the number of holes you need to make.

  • Vacuum out the ducts through these holes.

  • Cut sheet metal patches that are 2 inches in diameter larger than your access holes. This will allow 1 inch of overlap on all sides of the hole. Fasten the patches to your HVAC ducts with sheet metal screws.

  • Caulk around the sheet metal patches with a silicone sealant to make them airtight.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have a complex HVAC system with long, twisting duct runs you may want to contact a professional duct cleaner to clean your ducts. These complex duct systems will be challenging to clean with standard vacuum cleaners.

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