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Inspect Your Air Ducts

Why Do This?

Throughout the year, your heating and cooling system is pumping out air like nobody’s business, which can make your ducts dirty! Clean ductwork translates to better indoor air quality and up to a 40 percent increase in your HVAC system’s efficiency. Make sure your air ducts are clean by doing this quick inspection:

Difficulty:
Time: 30 minutes

What You'll Need

  • point-and-shoot camera (with a flash)
  • flashlight
  • screwdriver

How To:

  1. 1

    The next time your heating or cooling system turns on (this generally happens about seven times a day), keep an eye on your air vents. If you notice bits of cobwebs, dust or other debris blowing out of your registers, this is a sign that the ductwork further back (that you won’t be able to inspect from your air vents) may be clogged.

  2. 2

    Grab a flashlight and a point-and-shoot camera (a flash is important!). Locate your vent registers (most rooms in your home should have one on the floor or along the lower half of the wall) and remove the screws holding it in place with a screwdriver. Once the grill plate is off of your register, it’s time to get down to business!

  3. 3

    Reach as far as you can into the duct and take a couple of pictures (you can do this with just a flashlight, but a camera makes it easier to see further into the ducts). If your detective work reveals evidence of dust and debris buildup, your air ducts may need a professional cleaning.

  4. 4

    Mice infestations (especially in the winter) can be common inside ductwork. Check your photos for signs of a mice or bug infestation. Another peek inside your ducts with a flashlight doesn’t hurt, either. You’re mostly looking for rodent droppings or dead insects. If you see signs of an infestation, call an exterminator to resolve the problem.

  5. 5

    Check for mold. If you see substantial mold growth inside your air ducts, they may need a professional cleaning. If your air ducts are insulated, the insulation can sometimes get wet or moldy. If this is the case, the ductwork may need to be removed and replaced.

  6. 6

    If you notice any major problems, contact a qualified professional to have them inspect and clean your air ducts. If you see some build up, but aren’t sure if it warrants a cleaning quite yet, this detailed guide by the EPA can help you decide what to do.

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