Thinking of Duct Cleaning? You Might Be Wasting Your Money

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Research shows it doesn't accomplish much most of the time, and it may even make dust and mold worse.

If someone in your family has allergies, at some point you might consider getting your heating and cooling ducts cleaned. Consumers’ Checkbook says not to.

“Some duct cleaners advertise health benefits, or suggest that duct cleaning will lower your power bills by improving your system’s efficiency,” the group says. “Is there anything to these claims? In short: No.”

It cites research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that concluded duct cleaning has never been shown to prevent health problems, or that some dust in the duct system poses health risks. Most dust settles and gets stuck to the duct surface, and it doesn’t come loose again — until some duct cleaner sticks a brush or nozzle in there, anyway. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., which did its own research, and the American Lung Association, back up the EPA.

Improper cleaning can actually increase the level of dust or cause a leak in the duct, leading to an increased risk of mold, Consumers’ Checkbook says.

Duct cleaning should be considered only when a specific problem has been identified, such as pest infestation or substantial mold growth. On the low end, it costs hundreds. On the high end, it can be more than $1,000 to do a thorough job.

One of the best things you can do is regularly replace the air filter, Consumers’ Checkbook says. This is also one of the cheapest ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency, as we explain in the video below:

Consumers’ Checkbook also suggests having a heating and cooling contractor check for leaks and clean equipment such as condenser coils and fan blades.

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