You Definitely Don't Want This Living in Your Air Ducts

Updated on November 26th 2023
Interior view of air duct with growing mold

There’s something to be said for a clean HVAC system in your home. A clean furnace, air conditioner, and ductwork and vents can help your HVAC system work at peak efficiency and, more importantly, help maintain air quality throughout your home.

Without simple air duct cleaning and maintenance, you run the risk of creating an unhealthy environment in your residence and may need house-wide air duct sanitization to remedy the situation.

What Can Grow in Your Air Ducts?

All sorts of nasty creatures. Besides an occasional rodent, dark and warm air ducts are a breeding ground for things better left for a science experiment, rather than your home. Over the past four decades in business, we’ve been called upon by innumerable home and business owners to remediate all sorts of creatures big and small, from dead animal carcasses to creatures invisible to the naked eye. Here are a few to be aware of.


What are “mites?” They’re very small, insect-like creatures without eyes or wings but which reproduce at a stunning rate in dark, dusty, ductwork where they gorge themselves on organic matter which has accumulated within dust itself. On average, you can expect to find 100 to 500 dust mites living it up in one gram of dust, or the equivalent weight of a standard paperclip. Over time, excrement and dried shells from these tiny creatures build up and eventually get blown throughout your ventilation system, potentially leading to severe allergic reactions or other health problems.

The best way to get rid of dust mite colonies is through annual cleaning or, in some cases requiring more work, a house-wide air duct sanitization process.

Mold & Mildew

We’ve discovered that many home and business owners have mold in their HVAC system without even knowing it, which isn’t a failure on their part. That’s because mildew and mold flourish in humid, dark, dirty areas, and inefficient and dusty ventilation is ground zero for them to grow. Each produces spores for reproduction, and the “offspring” become airborne, passing throughout your home’s ventilation system. If you inhale these spores, you’re at greater risk of many health issues such as asthma, respiratory infection, allergic illness, and in some cases toxic poisoning. Unexplained coughing, headaches, and irritation of the eyes and throat could mean you have a mold and mildew problem in your home.

How do you prevent mold and mildew? Make sure your air duct ventilation is dry and clean. If the HVAC system is dirty and runs inefficiently, or the air filters are worn and clogged, it can’t pull all of the spores out of the air or keep moisture from building in the air ducts.

Bacteria and Viruses

Air duct sanitization is also used to remove bacteria and viruses from your HVAC system. Certain kinds of viruses and bacteria navigate the air to propagate infections. Damp and dirty spaces are a haven for many kinds of bacteria and viruses, giving them a comfortable place to accumulate and breed. If your system experiences poor or stagnant air circulation, it can lead to bacteria and viruses thriving in air ducts and result in potential infection and other health conditions.

What Is Air Duct Sanitization?

This goes beyond simple cleaning and can only be successful when carried out by a professional cleaning service. Our company takes extra steps to reduce the number of germs, bacteria, and other microorganisms in your ductwork, as well as removing debris and dirt. The primary goal with this type of treatment is to eradicate viruses and germs from HVAC surfaces so they don’t lead to health issues like allergies, asthma, and viruses. For example, certain disinfectants are known to kill nearly 100 percent of viruses, bacteria, and fungi on most surfaces in 10 minutes or less.

Every HVAC system and home are different, but air duct sanitization should last about six months. If someone in your home has been ill or has suffered from a contagious illness since the last time your ductwork was cleaned, you might consider having your air ducts cleaned again.

Why Would You Need Air Duct Sanitization?

We believe every home and business owner should have their air ducts cleaned once a year, but don’t take out word for it. Educate yourself about the potential benefits of regular cleaning or turn to resources like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for helpful information. The E.P.A. recommends air ducts cleaning under the following conditions.

  • “There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system.”
  • “Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects).”
  • “Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.”

Unless there are signs of illness or unexpected allergic reactions, getting your ductwork cleaned once a year is probably enough for most home and business owners. The EPA also says that “It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.”

Clean Your Ductwork the Right Way

The best way to keep your ductwork clean, your HVAC system running at peak efficiency, and the air in your home free of bacteria and viruses is to work with a professional like Steve’s Air Duct Cleaning Service. Contact our service team today by calling 303-530-4900 for more information.

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Your air ducts are the lungs of your home and keeping them clean keeps you and your family healthier and your HVAC equipment working optimally.