Central air ducts don’t commonly require cleaning and sanitizing. They may have dirt accumulated inside, but there generally isn’t much of it. Moreover, most of that buildup will likely just sit there instead of getting blown out to the room.
Even so, there are conditions that may require you to sanitize central air ducts, such as:
1. If there is a sign of mold growth
2. If there are strange noises coming from inside the ducts
3. If your AC performance is decreasing due to blocked airflow in the air ducts.
Cleaning air ducts is not easy, especially if there is mold growth or pests inside. Doing it wrong may lead to duct damage, and there are also some tools required in order to do it right.
Here are some things you need to get started:
1. A pair of goggles
2. A dust mask
3. Waterproof gloves
4. A screwdriver. Make sure it is the correct type based on the screws in your air duct registers.
5. Paper towels or microfiber cloths. Avoid ones with large fibers because they might not be able to block dust effectively.
6. A brush with a stiff bristle and long handle
7. A vacuum cleaner with a long and thin hose. A flexible one would be an even better choice.
Below are step-by-step guidelines on how to sanitize your central air ducts. Note that this procedure is only doable if there are no mold or pests in the ducts. Such cases require more complex treatment and advanced equipment. Only professionals can handle this effectively.
1. Open the air duct covers using a screwdriver and remove the grill plates at the return registers.
2. Lift the grill plates at the supply register, cover the holes with paper towels or cloths, and put the grills back in their places. Make sure it is perfectly sealed to prevent dirt from entering the air ducts.
3. Turn the fan on. Let the wind blow through your air ducts so it can loosen up the dirt in your ducts’ interior.
4. If possible, turn off the heating mode on your fan because it is not necessary. Leaving the heat on will only waste energy. However, some fans don’t run without heating. If that is the case, you can keep it running with the heat on.
5. Take your brush and start rubbing the air ducts to loosen up the clumps that are sticking to the interior walls. Perform the same cleaning procedure on both the supply and return registers.
6. Use a vacuum to suck up all the dust and debris. Try to go as deep as possible. Be careful not to damage the ducts.
7. Clean the register covers and grill plates.
8. Reattach them properly.
9. Replace your HVAC air filters with clean, new ones.
Reputable HVAC companies generally have more advanced appliances and tools to sanitize central air ducts. They also have much more skill and knowledge about the best way to them. Therefore, it is better to leave this task in their professional hands.