The air duct cleaning process consists of 4 general steps. Although not every quality air duct cleaner will follow these steps in the exact order, you should ask your air duct cleaner if they include the following in their air duct cleaning process.
STEP 1 - CLEANING THE AIR HANDLER
The air handler or furnace is the heart of the air system. It's the unit that is responsible for blowing the air throughout your home. It receives the air through one or more return registers, heats it or cools it (depending on the season) and distributes it throughout your home via the air ducts and supply registers.
All the air in your home goes through this unit so it must be cleaned. If it is not cleaned and decontaminated, having clean air ducts won't do you any good, because as soon as you turn on your furnace or air handler, the air moving through it will become contaminated and thus contaminate your air ducts as well.
STEP 2 - CLEAN VENT REGISTERS
Vent registers are the grills that attach to your air duct openings. They should also be cleaned and decontaminated since this is the last thing the air touches before it enters your living space. This is a simple part of the process as it involves removing them and cleaning them with water and a cleaning detergent.
After the vent registers have been cleaned, they should look like new or nearly new and it offers a nice professional touch to complement a clean air system.
STEP 3 - CLEAN AND DECONTAMINATE AIR DUCTS
During this step, the inside of your air ducts will actually be cleaned and decontaminated. There are two different ways to do this and they both involve high powered air duct cleaning equipment. Your air duct cleaner may attach a large negative air machine to one vent and close off the other openings in the system in order to create negative pressure. Then the ducts will be cleaned with an air powered tool or a powered rotating brush. This is called negative air cleaning or push-pull cleaning.
Alternatively, the company you choose may use a powerful air duct cleaning machine with a long hose and rotating powered brush that will disturb the debris in the air ducts and collect at the end of the long hose. This method is known as contact cleaning.
Either way is 100% effective at removing the dust and debris in your air system. Be sure to ask your technician about the details that go into cleaning your air ducts if you have any questions.
STEP 4 - APPLYING DEODORIZER AND SOOT SEALER
The last step in the air duct cleaning process is to apply 1 or more cleaning solutions into your air duct system in order to deodorize it and lock down any fine particulates that may be trapped in the nooks and crannies of your air ducts. This final step will give your system a fresh clean smell and help remove any minor lingering odors that may have built up from years of contamination.
RECOMMENDED OPTIONAL STEPS
Dryer Vent Cleaning
When is the last time you had your dryer vent cleaned? Similar to your air duct system, federal guidelines recommend having your dryer vent cleaned at least once every year. Lint can build up in the dryer vent and duct and cause airflow from your dryer to become dangerously low - which can cause overheating and lead to a fire.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission shows that there are an estimated 15,500 fires, 10 deaths, and 310 injuries associated with clothes dryers each year. Be sure to ask your air duct cleaner to also inspect your dryer vent and duct system to see if it also needs to be cleaned. Learn more about this potential hazard on our dryer vent cleaning page.