You probably don’t give much thought to your air ducts. Not unless you’ve recently watched a horror movie, in which case you’re more likely to run screaming from your vents than you are to approach them with a brush. Fortunately, you don’t have to do your own dirty work, or risk your life to the potentially malevolent residents of your air vent. It’s pretty simple to call in a professional and have them clean the vents for you.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) suggests your ducts should be inspected and cleaned every three to five years. If you’ve had your ducts cleaned, you know how soothing it is to see them fresh and dust-free. The air feels cleaner, even though studies haven’t shown any evidence that cleaning vents has any advantages. Sometimes, the psychological benefit of clean air vents is enough to justify the expense. Besides, it makes your home or office look tidy and well kept.

Why you should clean your air ducts

Apart from this routine type of cleaning, you should get your ducts cleaned anytime you move house, because there’s no sure way of knowing when the previous occupants cleaned them, if ever. You should also have them cleaned after refurbishing your home, or before occupying a newly built house. A lot of debris will have accumulated during the construction process.

Just because there’s no scientific evidence doesn’t mean cleaning your ducts is pointless. If you have pets, allergies, or asthma, you can feel the difference as soon as your air ducts are cleaned. The house feels cleaner, your breathing is easier, and you’re probably not sneezing as much. However, even with pets and allergies, the minimum period between cleanings – unless there’s remodelling or residential migration involved – is three years.

Signs your ducts may need cleaning

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you take a peek into your ventilation system every time you change your air filter. This period varies according to your geographical location, and how many people live in your house. For an average household, you can change it every 3 months. If you have a pet, change it once in 60 days, but if you have multiple pets (or allergies), reduce the gap to between 20 and 45 days, depending on the intensity of allergens and number of furry family members.

As you inspect your vents, be on the lookout for clowns, rodents, killer dolls, and snake eggs. They’re never a good sign. On a more mundane level, look for dirt deposits that may indicate a nest of pests. You can usually tell if there’s a strange smell or a pile of dung. You might also see insects hovering or buzzing in and out of the vent. Insect activity suggests they have a food source inside the vent.

Under ordinary circumstances, vents only need to be cleaned once in 3 to 5 years. Call in a professional sooner if you suspect mould, if you see a poof of dust, or if you’ve moved house.