How to Clean the Vents

Although Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, spring is coming sooner than we think. And since it’s been a long quarantine winter, and most of us have stayed indoors longer than ever before, it’s probably time to deep clean things like the vents in our homes.

There are some pretty tricky ways to do it yourself, usingleaf blowers and homemadedrills , but they are more hassle than it’s worth. To save money and relieve headaches, here are three easy ways to clean your vents and air ducts with common household items.

When to clean

If you are fortunate enough to have an air conditioning system, you probably won’t think about the vents, unless something goes wrong or the filter needs replacing. Changing filters once a month, however, only solves half the problem if dust and dandruff is simply circulating through the air vent back into your home. The Home Maintenance Home Warranty Review website suggests cleaning the vents once or twice a year to keep the walkways clean.

Cleaning the vents in early spring and fall will help ensure cleaner airflow throughout the year, but you should think more often – two or three times a year – if you have pets or people with respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive disease. pulmonary disease.

Three ways to clean air ducts

You don’t need to create your own vent cleaning kit to clean your air ducts (this can be fun, but largely unnecessary). You can clean them with a few simple household items such as a vacuum cleaner, butter knife, etc. a washcloth, a bowl of soapy water, and a sponge.

Clean with a vacuum cleaner, butter knife and rag.

First, take your vacuum cleaner with an extension hose (or hand vacuum) and vacuum any visible dust outside the vent. (You can also use a can of air to remove stubborn dust from the ventilation registers.) Then remove the ventilation register , which is the grill above the air duct inlet. Some registers are forcibly removable, while others are secured with screws and require a screwdriver. Be sure to place the screws in a safe place to reattach them later, then dampen a rag with a little water (the rag should be damp, but not wet enough to soak the vent), wrap the butter knife with it, and insert between the ventilation blades to remove any stuck inside dust. Home Advisor provides helpful tips and instructions on how to use this technique on their website .

In the bath

For a deeper cleaning of the ventilation grilles, you can take them into the sink or bathtub. Let them soak for three to five minutes in soapy water to remove the dirt, then take a sponge and remove any remaining dirt. Rinse out the faucet or removable shower head and unfold the registers to dry, which should take 5 to 10 minutes. If you have any objects lying around, you can use Turtle Wax or a similar product to prevent dust from sticking to the vents in the future.

Penetrate the ventilation ducts with a vacuum.

Use a regular household vacuum or a standard industrial vacuum to vacuum the outside of the air vent first, then run the long hose or arm of your vacuum cleaner into an open air duct to remove any accumulated dust in the air duct. Repeat this for every vent throughout your home, which may take a while depending on the number of vents, but it’s worth it to minimize the circulation of dust and allergens in your home.

When to call a professional

If you don’t feel ready to clean them yourself or need more serious work, you should hire a professional. The EPA provides a short list of situations requiring professional attention when it comes to cleaning your duct system, including:

  • There is significant visible mold growth inside ducts with hard surfaces (such as sheet metal) or on other components of your heating and cooling system.
  • The ducts are infested with parasites (such as rodents or insects).
  • Air ducts are clogged with excessive dust and debris and / or particles that actually enter your home from your supply registers.

Although mold and rodent infestation is a more serious problem for your home, some of the small components of your HVAC system require professional attention for regular maintenance and cleaning. Hiring a professional is also best for the more delicate parts of your system, such as fan motors, heat exchangers, and cooling coils, which may be covered in dust. They need a little more experience than a typical homeowner with a vacuum cleaner and butter knife can give.


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