This sounds more like the opening line of a horror film synopsis than a hygiene issue. Fortunately, vents in the real world aren’t nearly as terrifying as the ones in Hollywood. That said, there’s still a lot in your vents that shouldn’t be. It’s a good idea to have them professionally cleaned every three year. Five years is the outer limit. You may also want to clean them if you’ve just built, remodelled, or moved into your house.

Your home has a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system that keeps your air fresh, as well as warming the house on cold nights and cool months. The HVAC also cools down the house during the heat of summer. It’s an essential part of living if you reside in an area with extreme temperatures. Poor hygiene compromises your HVAC system.

Organic contaminants

Unwanted items in your vents can lead to disease, damage, and expensive repair work. Rodents are a common vent invader. They access the air conditioning system from the exterior portions of the house, and sometimes use them to access the house in search of food. Rats, racoons, and other little critters can sneak out of the vents at night to attack leftovers, floor crumbs, or exposed edibles. They might even access the fridge.

These rodents can bring bacteria and viruses into your home, as well as their own pest infestations. The fleas, ticks, mites, lice, worms, and bugs that live on their bodies can now invade your home. Rodents also leave piles of faeces in your vents, which cause nasty smells and can attract flies and dung beetles, making the whole mess worse.

Microscopic dirt

Apart from living organisms, dust can be a problem. An average home that occupies about 1600 square metres can generate a lot of dust, sometimes up to 40 pounds in a year. The dust comes from dead cells, soil particles, pet detritus, disintegrating household items, and more. Other components in dust include cockroach particles, faeces from dust mites, and traces of leached arsenic and lead from your HVAC piping. These can all trigger allergies.

You can minimise these allergens and prevent infestation by doing some routine home maintenance. Change your air filter three or four three times a year. Keep your air vents dry to prevent mould from forming. Clean your cooling coils, since they accumulate a lot of dust. Drain and empty the pans on a regular basis.

Other advantages of vent maintenance

As you do your daily dusting, you may wonder where it all comes from and why it never seems to stop. Human beings shed 500 million skin cells every day, so a lot of that dust comes from you and lands on tables, chairs, clothes, and vents.

Routine vent maintenance improves the quality of your air and improves the efficiency of your HVAC by minimising build-up. This could cut power bills by up to 20%. Keeping your air vents spotless will also reduce asthma and other allergic reactions, so spend a few minutes inspecting and maintaining them every week.