NADCA experts argue the need for cleaning depends on a variety of factors, including pets, smoking, recent renovations, local weather conditions and overall home cleanliness. Vinick says a good contractor will offer to do an inspection beforehand for a nominal charge, if any, to see if a cleaning is necessary.
NADCA’s standards dictate that a cleaning doesn't just sweep the ducts, but addresses every component air passes over, including coils and the central system. The task involves at least a couple of workers, several hours and costly equipment, which is why air duct cleaning costs $400 or more, according to EPA and NADCA.
Vinick calls air duct cleaning an essential part of home maintenance, akin to mopping and vacuuming. "It’s like changing the oil in your car, ” he says. “If you don’t change the oil, you’re going to have a problem. When your components are loaded up with debris, the system has to work harder. When you remove that debris, you get energy consumption savings.”