Summers are famously out hot here in Texas, so you’re probably thinking about blasting the AC as soon as June comes around, but have you stopped to think what sort of things have lodged up inside the vents since last summer? It’s important that you clean those vents regularly because the air quality inside your house depends on it, and so does your family’s health. We’re not only interested in keeping your house clean and tidy, but that you have a great summer, too! That’s why we bring you this guide on how to properly clean your vents.
We’ll go over each tool you’re going to use, the proper way to set up your cleaning, and each step that you must take to clean those vents without making a mess of dust inside your house. By doing this, you’re also preventing the appearance of molds and other nasty things that could be living inside, so take your time to read this guide over once or twice through the end before getting your hands dirty. It’s seriously easy; you have to be patient. Let’s clean out those AC vents!
What you’ll need:
- Screwdriver or hex driver: It’s likely that your register, like those of most people, is being held in place by some screws or fasteners, so you’ll need this to get them loose. A ¼” hex driver is what you’ll most likely end up needing but check first.
- Vacuum: While most household vacuums will do a decent job, you’ll be better off with a heavy-duty unit, so try and get a stronger version if you think yours isn’t powerful enough. Whichever model you pick, make sure that it has a long hose attached.
- Vent register filters: If you have pets that shed a lot, you’ll definitely want to install some of these around the house, since they help keep the most common allergens like dust, pet fur, dirt and others at bay.
- Brush or broom: Something with stiff bristles and a long handle will do just fine; you don’t just want to gently pull the dust out, but scrape up anything that shouldn’t be there.
- Paper covers: Place a couple of these around the vent you’re cleaning, or you’ll be taking extra steps to finish cleaning after you’re done with each duct. You can also cover other registers around the house while sweeping the dust you’ve collected.
How to clean your air ducts, step-by-step
1. Cover your supply registers
You’ll want to avoid all the dust you’re moving inside the ducts from just being thrown into the other rooms, and it’s pretty simple to prevent that from happening. Just lift the registers and wrap a paper towel over the top, then put it back into place. Do this for every supply register in the house.
2. Double check your air filter and turn on the fan
It never hurts to double check your air filter, and if you’re already cleaning your vents, putting in the extra effort is well worth it, even if it’s just to make sure that you don’t have to replace it for the moment. If you don’t do it and the filter is dirty, the dust might end up clogging your fan motor, and that’s a costly repair you want to avoid, especially after doing such a simple task. After checking or replacing it, turn on the fan, so the dust you remove gets pushed out.
3. Start scraping the dust inside the ducts
Use the handle of your brush or broom to knock a little on the duct walls to loosen up the dust sticking to it, then start sweeping it out towards your supply registers. Get your vacuum and put the end of the hose near the register to catch any dust that comes out of it. Keep doing this and sweep as far in as you can reach, and repeat around the house with your other supply registers (which should be covered by now).
4. Cut off the power to the motor
Just turning off the thermostat won’t be enough to cut out the power to the fan motor; you’ll have to do so via the breaker panel or a master switch. This is important because the next step is cleaning the furnace, and you really don’t want that turning on when you’re fidgeting with it.
5. Access the furnace and clean it out
Once the fan is off, remove the panels covering the furnace’s blower compartment, and sweep out the dust that has built up inside. There’s bound to be a lot of it, so be prepared. Do the same for the return air boot and the furnace fan as well. You can also replace your furnace filter since you’re already there, which can help you reduce the dust buildup.
Is cleaning out your AC vents necessary? Absolutely, although it’s not something that you’ll have to do every week or month (thankfully!). It should be done a couple of times a year, and the beginning of summer should be one of those times because of how often you’re going to be using it for the next few months, so get dusting! Just remember to follow the steps to avoid making a mess of dislodged old dust as soon as you turn on the AC again.