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What Are Some Common Problems With Dirty AC Systems?

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels

Before beginning any duct cleaning project, it is important to prepare the area properly. This includes clearing the workspace of any furniture, bags, or other items and putting on protective gear such as safety goggles, a dust mask or respirator, and gloves. Once the workspace is prepped, it is time to begin cleaning.

Gather the necessary supplies

Before you begin cleaning your air ducts, ensure you have all the necessary supplies. This will help prevent any delays and make the process more efficient.

 You should have the following supplies: 

-Vacuum cleaner and extension hose 

-Duct cleaning brushes or brushes on an extendable pole 

-Protective gloves and respirator mask

-Dryer sheets (for removing dust build-up)

-Safety goggles (to avoid debris getting in your eyes)

-Clean towels or rags for wiping surfaces down

-Bucket of warm water with soap dissolved inside (if needed). It is important to note that the vacuum cleaner you use must be suited for home or commercial duct cleaning.

 Ensure it is rated for use in removing dirt, dust, and other particles from air conditioners and heating systems.

Turn off the power to the AC unit.

Before beginning the AC duct cleaning process, it is important to turn off the power to the AC unit and ensure that all safety measures are taken. Then, depending on the type of system, drain condensation from the evaporator or simply cover it with a few towels or cloths. This will protect all parts of your AC unit and workspace from moisture damage during your cleaning project. 

Next, remove all grilles, registers, and other components connected to the ducts. Carefully remove any grilles or registers to expose any nearby ducts that need to be cleaned. Be sure to label each component, so you know where each goes when reassembling them later! Additionally, removing excess insulation can increase airflow efficiency and help reduce energy costs in the long run—especially for homes with older systems installed at least 15 years ago.

Remove the vent covers.

Removing the vent covers is an important but often overlooked step to clean and maintain your AC ducts properly. With a small screwdriver or similar tool, gently pry off the covers. This will allow access to the interior of the ducts, which may be filled with dust and debris. Take care not to damage any covers, as these are necessary for proper ventilation. Once all covers have been removed, inspect the ducts to see if they need cleaning or maintenance. If they need some attention, move on to the next step.


Cleaning your air condition ducts is necessary to keep your AC in good condition. However, the dust and debris that builds up in your ducts over time can decrease your AC’s efficiency and even cause damage to the unit. Cleaning your AC ducts regularly is essential to keeping your AC running smoothly and efficiently. Let’s explore the best practices for cleaning and maintaining your AC ducts.

Vacuum the ducts

Vacuuming the ducts is the first step to cleaning the air duct system. Begin by vacuuming the main trunk of your air ducts and then move onto each vent—it’s important to vacuum thoroughly, as dust and debris can accumulate in large spaces and small crevices. Small attachments such as a vacuum wand can help you get into hard-to-reach places, so using one can be very helpful for cleaning. 

Once you’ve finished vacuuming, use a large brush to clean the sides of each vent to remove any excess dirt or dust that may have been missed during vacuuming. When completed, turn off your AC before moving on to the next step.

Use a brush to scrub the ducts.

When cleaning any type of ductwork, a brush is one of the basic tools you’ll need. While many different brushes are available, many people find that using either a narrow-diameter or medium-diameter crimped wire wheel brush works best. These brushes have stiff nylon filaments that spread apart to reach deep into your ducts while resisting becoming clogged with dirt and debris. 

Before using the brush, cover surfaces like nearby walls and windows with a drop cloth or newspaper to protect them from loose dust or dirt. 

Then, remove any dust buildup from your vents by simply vacuuming it away with a shop vac or household vacuum cleaner before starting the brushing process. To avoid debris from leaving your ducts and entering other parts of your home, attach an indoor vacuum hose at the far end of the vents’ opening before scrubbing them down with a brush. 

To ensure that any airborne particles you create while cleaning don’t get into other areas in your house, it’s also a good idea to put on protective eye gear and use an industrial-strength respirator mask to cover any exposed skin when you start brushing away at the buildup inside each vent pipe.

Use a wet/dry vac to clean up any debris.

When using a wet/dry vac for cleanup after home improvement projects such as remodeling or repairs, it’s important to set it up correctly for the best results. Before you begin, ensure the filter is in place and the collection bag is installed properly. The filter will help prevent debris from entering the motor.

When working around water, ensure the switch on your vacuum unit is set to “wet” mode — this allows any liquid to be drained into a separate container or tank before going through the filter and motor system. To begin cleaning up, remove any large objects from your work area, then vacuum all loose dirt and debris. If you need more reach with your vacuum hose, consider adding extension tubes to help access hard-to-reach areas. If you have larger pieces of debris that won’t fit through the hose opening, use a shovel to carefully scoop them out of your workspace and into the collection chamber.

Depending on the size and type of debris you are dealing with — drywall dust, wood chips, or sawdust – you may need to change the filter multiple times while vacuuming to ensure optimal performance. Once all visible dirt and debris have been removed from your work area, use a damp cloth or broom to finish cleaning. If necessary, use mild soap and water to remove stuck dirt or grime, and mop floors for a comprehensive clean-up after home projects or repairs.


Maintaining your AC ducts is essential for ensuring your air quality is good and will help reduce energy and repair costs. Regular maintenance of your AC ducts requires cleaning and inspection and should be done at least once a year. Cleaning your AC ducts will help remove dirt, dust, and other contaminants that can build up. This guide will go over the steps you need to take to maintain your AC ducts properly.

Check for any signs of damage.

It is important to check all parts of your air conditioning ducts for any signs of deterioration, damage, or air leaks. Damaged ducts can lead to poor energy efficiency and cause unacceptable indoor air pollutants to enter the home. Common signs of damage include obvious holes, corrosion on metal ducts, deteriorated insulation material, condensation or wetness on interior surfaces, and an infestation of insects.

If you see any of these signs, contact a professional HVAC contractor for evaluation and repair. It is also helpful to check the area around your ductwork for any evidence of dirt or dust accumulation. This can indicate the need for more frequent cleaning or that no filter system is being used. In addition, if you suspect you have a problem with vermin, such as rodents or cockroaches, in your air conditioner ducts, it’s best to contact a pest control professional for expert advice and help get rid of them safely and effectively.

Lubricate the moving parts

Regularly checking and lubricating moving parts is important to ensure the proper functioning of your equipment. It can also extend the life of your equipment and save you time, money, and frustration. Lubricating the moving parts helps reduce operating temperature, minimize friction, and prevent damage due to wear and tear on the parts. Locating lubrication points can be challenging as some machines may have yet to easily visible access points for lubrication. Contact an authorized service center for guidance if you cannot locate a lubrication point on the device. Appropriate amounts of oil can vary from machine to machine – please consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how much oil to use for each application. 

Additionally, you must use only the recommended type of oil for each application – both general-purpose lubricants (e.g., mineral or synthetic oils) or special machine-specific oils can be used depending on what type of machinery needs to be serviced. Finally, it is always good practice to remove any excess grease with a clean cloth before reapplying fresh oil so that old deposits are not mixed with new lubricant causing contamination or clogging up internal components, which could interfere with optimal performance in operations.

After replenishing the oil, turn the device on to allow it proper circulation, then turn it off after 10-15 minutes before inspecting it once more to see if all mechanisms are working correctly. Regular maintenance is key – ensuring that bearings, motors, and other internal components are properly maintained will help your devices last longer!

Re-insulate the ducts

Once the dust and debris are removed from the air conditioning ducts, it is important to re-insulate where necessary. Determine whether your ducts are insulated before beginning this task. If they are not insulating, they will help prevent energy loss and maintain a comfortable climate in your home. Select an appropriate insulation material depending on where your HVAC system is located. Most insulation materials come in sheets that can be cut to size and fit around the ducts with minimal effort. 

Fiberglass batting and foam board are some of the most common insulation materials available, and both work well for insulating air conditioning ducts. You’ll also need special foil tape or mastic sealant, which should be applied at joints between fibers of insulation material, along seams, and around any holes or crevices in the air conditioning ducts. Closely inspect each section of air conditioning ducts for leaks as you’re re-insulating them to ensure that no airflow can escape from poorly sealed joints or cracks in the system. 

Once all sections have been inspected for proper insulation, use a damp cloth to wipe away any leftover debris before finishing with a dry vacuuming session to remove any excess dirt inside the ducts. This final step avoids clogging up your system with dirt particles that could reduce efficiency or cause premature wear on its components over time.

Additionally, by carrying out regular maintenance on your air conditioning system such as this, you can enjoy highly efficient operation without worrying about energy bills rising yearly due to energy loss through poorly insulated ductwork!


After the components of your air conditioning ducts have been thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to reassemble them. The reassembling step is just as important as the cleaning and should not be skipped. Depending on the type of air conditioning ducts, you may need to use different tools and equipment to ensure you reassemble the ducts correctly. This guide will provide instructions on how to reassemble your ducts properly.

Re-attach the vent covers

Once the ducts have been cleaned and inspected, you must re-attach the vent covers. This can be done with screwdrivers to ensure a secure fit. Reattaching the vent covers correctly is important to prevent moisture or dust from leaking into the duct system. Begin by unscrewing any screws at the intersections of your vent cover and ductwork with a screwdriver.

Depending on which type of cover is installed, there could be varying sizes of screws or just one larger main screw that securely holds each part together. Take off the cover and set it aside before gently pushing each side back into place, ensuring that each part fits securely and tightly into its spot in the air ducts.

Once all sides are properly fitted back in, hold them in place while using your screwdriver to fasten them with their corresponding screws. Make sure that these are tightened securely to prevent dust particles or moisture from entering through small gaps between connecting screwed parts of your AC ducts and vent covers.

Turn on the power to the AC unit.

Once you have reassembled the AC ducts, ensure that all components are correctly installed and secure before connecting power to the unit. It is essential that you turn off the power to the AC unit before starting any repair or maintenance procedure. Ensure that there are no open flames, sparks, or other heat sources near the AC unit, and verify that all disconnect switches and circuit breakers that supply power to the AC system are in the OFF position.

After verifying that there are no electrical hazards, slowly turn on the power to the unit one switch at a time. Ensure that all switches controlling power to the AC unit reset each time correctly before powering up another switch. If a switch does not reset after three attempts, this may indicate a wiring issue and should be inspected by a certified HVAC technician immediately.

Once you have powered up each switch successfully, check for active current around the AC unit by using an electrical meter; if the current is detected, only continue once an HVAC professional has inspected your system.

Test the system for proper operation

After the air ducts have been reassembled, it is essential to test the system for proper operation. This includes checking for any leaks and making sure that the air ducts are clean and aligned properly. In addition, it is important to conduct a pressure test of all the components to ensure that the system is functioning efficiently and adequately.

To perform these tests accurately and professionally, most technicians use an infrared video inspection camera to review the condition of the air ducts while running operational tests on each part of the system. By reviewing this footage in real-time, technicians can quickly detect any potential issues in each section and take preventive measures before they become more serious problems. Additionally, this footage can help pinpoint any critical elements of your air duct system that need servicing or replacement.

Written by Marcus Richards

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