Nasty Signs Your Air Ducts Need Some Serious Cleaning

May 24, 2016

Grossed out by this picture? So were we. We recently sucked that bad boy out of a homeowner’s air ducts. 

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what could be lurking in your air ducts right now.
Which is disturbing because the air you breathe comes in contact with anything in your ductwork.
So how do you know if your air ducts are harboring unwanted gunk?
We’ll help you answer this question by sharing 3 not-so-pleasant signs that your air ducts need to be professionally cleaned.


If you see mold growing on your vents, it’s most likely spreading from deeper inside your air ducts.  

The Centers for Disease Control states that mold exposure can cause fever, shortness of breath, respiratory illness and mold infections in the lungs.
Related: How Your Air Conditioner Can Make You Sick
Mold can grow in your air ducts when moisture is present. So getting rid of that extra moisture FIRST is important, otherwise mold will grow back after it has been cleaned.
Some of the causes of moisture in your air ducts include:

Dust puffing out of vents

If you notice a small dust cloud popping out from your vents every time your AC comes on, it’s likely because your ducts are full of dirt and debris. That dirt is then pushed directly into your home. 

This can aggravate allergies and cause high energy bills and a dirty house.
Buildup of dirt and other contaminants can be caused by:

  • A dirty air filter (or you may not be using the right air filter for your home)
  • Clogged ducts (piece of insulation or an object fell into duct)
  • Leaky ducts (leaky ducts allow contaminants to enter your ductwork and increase energy bills)

Insect/Rodent Infestation

You probably have an infestation if you see insects or rodents crawling in or out of your vents. Call an exterminator first, then get your ducts professionally cleaned ASAP. 

Pests pose serious health threats because they bring their feces, bacteria, hair, nests and even dead bodies into your air ducts. They’ll also spread to other parts of your home and/or cause expensive damage by chewing through your ducts.
Vermin can crawl into your ducts through even the tiniest opening. Make sure your technician inspects and seals any leaks or openings in your ductwork.

Beware of claims that you need “routine” duct cleaning

If a company or technician claims you should invest in routine duct cleaning, they’re just out for your money.  

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that duct cleaning has never been shown to prevent health problems and should only be performed on an “as-needed” basis (when you notice one of the 3 signs above). 
The best way to prevent health problems is to improve air quality. Here are tips on how to do that:

  • Regular maintenance—During annual “tune-ups”, a technician inspects and cleans all parts of your AC to ensure your system is working properly and that no extra dust or contaminants infiltrate your home. They will also check and replace your air filter to improve your air quality.
  • Seal leaks/holes in ducts—Duct leaks bring in contaminants, pests and moisture. 
  • Clean your home—Regularly vacuum and dust your home. Keep bathrooms and kitchens well ventilated or they’ll send moisture into ducts.
  • Check/change filters regularly—Check your filters once every 1-3 months and replace them when you see even a thin layer of dirt. This improves your air quality and AC system.

Ready to take back your air ducts?

If you have noticed any of the warning signs, have your ducts inspected for mold, dirt buildup and insect/rodent infestation.
At Santa Fe Air, we use cameras that allow you to see how dirty your ducts are before we clean. Then we use our TurboJet Max II negative air machine to suck out all the contaminants lodged in your ducts to give you safer, cleaner air.
Schedule your duct inspection today with our certified technicians. 

Santa Fe Air Conditioning and Heating serves the Kansas City area. For more information, contact us online