Ventilation System: 2 Things You Can Do Differently To Keep It Clean

Your cooling system depends on a clean ventilation system to work properly and keep your indoor environment healthy. To ensure that these things occur, you may change your air filter every three months and wipe down the outside covers of your air vents. But sometimes, even your best intentions can inadvertently cause issues with your ventilation system. For example, if your AC seems sluggish, or if your home feels stuffy and unclean, you may need to change your air filter sooner and clean out openings of your air vents. Here are two things you can do differently to keep your ventilation system clean.

Change Your Air Filter Sooner

Although a number of sources recommend that you change or replace your AC's air filter every three months, you may need to change it much sooner than that. Several factors can influence how often you replace your air filter, including usage. If you operate your cooling system continuously, the air filter can build up with debris, or contaminants, faster. The buildup can eventually cause problems with your indoor unit and air ducts.

Your AC system's indoor unit may struggle to cool down the heated air it receives from the house. Some of the contaminants can pass through the unit and enter your air ducts. If your air ducts clog up with debris, they can't transport heat or cool air through them. As a result, your home becomes hot and uncomfortable, and your indoor unit operates poorly.

One of the things you can do to keep the unit and air ducts clean is change your air filter on a monthly basis. In fact, some sources recommend that you change your filter monthly or every two months to prevent issues with your air conditioning system. If you use a washable, or reusable, air filter, clean it every two weeks and completely replace it three to six months after use. 

You can now take steps to improve air flow through your ducts and vents.

Clean Inside Your Air Vents and Ducts

Air ducts should be as clean as possible to maintain good airflow. Although wiping down the outside surfaces of your air vents can help keep your home clean, it may not be enough if you don't clean out your air ducts. Ducts connect to vents placed in your ceiling. Some homes have vents inside the flooring or along the baseboards.

If you remove the coverings from the vents, you can view the inside of your air ducts. If you see a lot of dirt and dust on the inside walls of the ducts, they require a good cleaning. You can clean out the vents yourself if you can access them safely by ladder or foot. However, if the vents are inaccessible, contact an HVAC specialist to complete the cleaning for you.

Otherwise, follow the steps below:

  1. Discontinue power to your air conditioning system. You can do this at the circuit breaker and thermostat for safety. 
  2. Fill a large bucket with warm water and 2 teaspoons of dish detergent. 
  3. Obtain four cleaning rags and gloves to protect your hands. 
  4. Place your stool or ladder below a vent, then use a screwdriver to remove its covering. 
  5. Complete step four with every vent you can access safely.
  6. Use a hand vacuum with a long hose to remove loose debris from the vents.
  7. Wet two of your rags with water from the bucket, then wash out the vents.
  8. Dry the insides of the vents with the last two rags. 
  9. Wipe down the vent coverings, then allow the vent to dry before you screw them back in place.
  10. Return power to your cooling system.

Your home should feel cleaner and more comfortable after you complete the steps above.

If at any time you need additional help with your cooling system, air filter, or air ducts, contact an HVAC contractor for assistance.