How often do air ducts need to be cleaned in commercial buildings

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Published on 2023-02-15


Did you know that Australians can spend most of their time indoors? The truth is, that indoor air quality can be crucial. Since we spend so much time indoors — and a bulk of that in the office for many of us — indoor air quality improvement can be vital. That’s where regular maintenance of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) comes in.

Poorly maintained systems can allow for the recirculation of and the proliferation of harmful pathogens and health hazards such as bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungi, putting the health of occupants at risk. The accumulation of moisture and the right temperatures can allow these harmful pollutants to proliferate significantly, making the building less safe, and less conducive to happiness and productivity.

Since business owners are responsible for ensuring that employees are given a safe work environment, it’s essential to look after HVAC maintenance in your business’ building. Uncleaned air ducts can lead to everything from foul odors in the workplace to serious health hazards, making this an essential consideration for business owners and building managers.

But — how often should you clean your air vents?

The NADCA, or National Air Duct Cleaner’s Association, recommends that we get our ducts inspected at least annually, and seek cleaning as needed — cautioning that the frequency of recommended cleanings can hinge on factors such as whether occupants are asthmatic or have pets.

So — what does commercial air duct cleaning involve? What can happen if you wait too long? If you’re curious, read on. We’ll explore the importance of regular HVAC system maintenance, including how often experts recommend this treatment, as well as what might be at stake. Let’s dive in.

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

So, regular HVAC air duct cleaning can be essential to our comfort and safety, especially in the workplace where many of us spend much of our waking hours. But — exactly what is air duct cleaning? What does it involve and how long might it take? Let’s explore.

Air duct cleaning refers to the process of cleaning the HVAC system that delivers cool or warm air to our indoor spaces. As the name suggests, this involves cleaning the air ducts that deliver air, but it also may involve cleaning other components in our HVAC systems, including registers, grilles, diffusers, cooling coils, fans, and more. Here, contaminants removal can be essential, enabling systems to operate more efficiently.

Air duct cleaning offers a range of potential benefits, including reducing the amount you spend on power bills, improving indoor air quality, mold prevention, and extending the life of your system by mitigating the risks of unaddressed issues.

How do I know if my air ducts need to be cleaned?

So, are there signs that your ducts need cleaning? There may not always be, but here are some to stay on the lookout for:

Spikes in Your Energy Bill

When dust, dirt, and other debris accumulate in your HVAC system, it can lead to inefficiencies that cause your power bill to spike to achieve the same level of cooling or heating.

Large Amounts of Dust around Vents and Registers

When the dust in your ducts reaches a critical level, you may see it begin to accumulate around vents and registers.


Mold growth can be a serious sign that your HVAC system needs inspecting and cleaning.

Recent Renovations or Construction

If your building has recently been renovated or was just built, the ducts may require cleaning.

No Record of Cleaning Prior

If your vents have simply never been cleaned that you’re aware of, it’s probably time for a cleaning and it’s definitely time for an inspection.

Unusual Odours

If unusual odours are coming from your HVAC system, it’s time for an inspection.

Rodents or Insects

Rodents and insects, especially spotted near vents or registers, can indicate cleanliness problems in your HVAC system.

Inconsistent Airflow

Inconsistent airflow, especially between rooms that once had relatively consistent airflow is a solid indicator that dirt may have led to blockage or inefficiencies.

Residents with Allergies and Asthma

While some spikes in allergies and asthma symptoms can be attributed to outdoor air quality during peak seasons, they can also indicate that indoor air quality has deteriorated and your HVAC system should be inspected and potentially cleaned.

What happens if you don’t clean your air ducts?

So, what are the risks of uninspected and uncleaned HVAC systems left to their own devices? There can be a few. Let’s review.

Can Dirty Air Ducts Affect Air Conditioning?

Absolutely; in addition to potentially blocking airflow, dirty components in an HVAC system that become dirty may become inefficient, needing to work overtime to achieve the same temperatures as a clean system.

Can Dirty Air Ducts Make Your House Smell?

You guessed it, yes. Dirty air vents, particularly those harboring growth such as mold or mildew, can produce unpleasant odours in the home.

Can Dirty Air Ducts Cause a Fire?

Considering that uncleaned air ducts can lead to the accumulation of dry and flammable materials, they can pose a  serious risk to fire safety.

Can Dirty Ducts Cause Health Problems?

Yes. Since dirty ducts can be conducive to the growth of harmful pathogens such as bacteria and mold, dirty air vents and ducts can pose a threat to our health.

Importance of Regular Inspections

While many experts recommend cleanings every 3-5 years in commercial buildings, the truth is that each situation is unique. The frequency of cleanings sufficient to keep your system running great can hinge on several factors including how much wear your system faces, whether occupants struggle with allergies, and more. That’s why, regular inspection is vital. HVAC systems should be inspected annually to determine whether they need cleaning.

The Added Benefits Of Regular Air Duct Cleaning

So, what are some of the additional potential air duct cleaning benefits? In addition to the basics, these might include:

  • Enhanced Indoor Air Quality,
  • Increased Efficiency,
  • Allergy Relief,
  • Less Unpleasant Odours, and
  • Less Dust Accumulation.

How Long Does Air Duct Cleaning Take?

There are several factors that can influence how long a cleaning might take, including:

  • System size,
  • System accessibility,
  • Type of ductwork,
  • Level of contamination, and
  • Number of crew members required.

The Right Air Duct Cleaning Service

Finding the right air duct cleaning service can be crucial. Here are some factors to consider:

  • The provider’s credentials and certifications,
  • Customer reviews and ratings,
  • The cost of service — including potential hidden charges, and
  • Whether or not they use harmful chemicals in their process.


If you or any other occupants have been experiencing health issues that could be attributed to unclean air, you may find yourself worried about what to do next. Often, the best next step is to consult with the pros. Having your ducts inspected is an excellent first step, and if needed, having them cleaned to ensure that they’re working properly.

While there are DIY solutions for dirty air vents, at the end of the day it’s important to call the professionals, for several reasons. Among these, perhaps most importantly, is that professional duct services will have the equipment and expertise to clean your ducts thoroughly, often beyond what can be accomplished alone. Moreover, working on HVAC systems can be dangerous and a professional team will have the know-how to do it safely.

Regular maintenance is an important part of HVAC maintenance, whether in a residence or place of business. Regular inspections, adhering to your manufacturer care instructions (such as replacing filters regularly), and regular professional inspections and cleanings can be important parts of ensuring that it stays working properly.

If you’re ready for an inspection, don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Lotus Commercial, we’ve been helping residents and businesses just like yours keep their HVAC and ventilation systems working safely, properly, and effectively, for over 30 years. To learn more or get started, get your quote today.

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