It's understandable that when taking up residence in a new home you'd want to start from a clean slate, so to speak. You want the house you move into to be spotless, so you can make it your own. If it has not been cleaned prior to your arrival, for example, you wipe its floors and countertops before you start unpacking your boxes. After all, it's one thing to live with your own dirt, but quite another to live with someone else's. This line of thinking leads lots of people to wonder whether they should have the air ducts cleaned when moving into a new residence. Here are a few things to consider to help make the call.
First, a word about some of the goodies our technicians find inside HVAC ductwork: lots of things you can imagine, and some that would never enter your mind. These finds range from the benign (Legos, marbles) to the disgusting (garbage, dead animals, rodent feces, dirty diapers) to the dangerous (guns—okay, just one, but still!—traps, needles, etc). This is on top of the everyday grossness present in uncleaned air ducts, such as pet dander, dust mites, construction dust, etc.
The scenario pictured above is common in households with children—lots of food items shoved down the vent ("I wonder what would happen if I put this in here . . ."), including in this case a partially consumed peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The curiosities below were found inside the ductwork of a house in Minneapolis that was being flipped. Over the years the various residents had dropped all manner of debris—including crumpled paper, garbage, and a broken broom handle—down the floor vents.
Because in most cases you don't have detailed knowledge of who inhabited your home before you and what they did there, it's wise to consider having a thorough duct cleaning performed on move-in. Sometimes, to increase the attractiveness of the home to buyers, the seller will have the ducts cleaned before putting the house on the market. Even if this is the case, a more thorough cleaning may be desired. Air duct cleaning typically is offered in "good," "better," and "best" options, and the difference between them can be significant. It's not typical for homeowners to select the top-tier service if they know they're on their way out.
But what if you're moving into a newly constructed home? In most of these cases, too, a thorough duct cleaning is warranted. Our technicians remove all manner of construction debris from the ducts of newly built homes, including concrete chunks and other building materials, but most insidiously, drywall (aka Sheetrock) dust. Drywall dust is ubiquitous in newly built or remodeled homes, and it is notorious for infiltrating every component of the HVAC system and choking off the air flow that is so vital to HVAC system efficiency. It settles as a fine, chalk-like powder in the ducts and is recirculated throughout the system, polluting indoor air and dirtying the living space.
Some conscientious builders, for the above reasons, will commission a top-of-the-line air duct cleaning on completion of the home. This is of course the ideal scenario. Other builders will unfortunately order only a standard cleaning when circumstances really warrant a higher level.
All this is to say that if you are moving into a new home and want a fresh, clean start—out with the old occupants (and their dirt) and in with the new—consider adding air ducts to your list of spaces that warrant cleaning. Then you can have peace of mind that your whole house—its living space and its inner workings—is as clean as it can be.
Wanna dig deeper? Download our free tipsheet: 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Air Duct Cleaning Company.
Many thanks to our technician Roy S for lending his expertise to this article.