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How to Clean HVAC Return Air Vents

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The return air vent is the part of a furnace or air conditioner that redirects stale air out of the room, making way for new, warmed or cooled air into the room. Air ducts are essential to any HVAC system as these often come with filters that ensure clean indoor air quality.

Maintaining clean air vents is a must for any ducted air conditioner or heating system. Air vents are what deliver air to and fro the room, and the dust that gets trapped in the circulating air can easily cause malfunctioning units. It is recommended that HVAC system air ducts are cleaned at least once every 4-6 months, depending on the level of air pollution in your area.

Effects of Unmaintained HVAC Return Air Vents

If your return air vent, and air vent cover is building up a layer of dust and grime around it, it can lead to a number of problems, including dust flying around the room, and dust getting into sensitive components of your HVAC system.

  • Poor indoor air quality;
  • Faulty HVAC system;
  • Increased energy bills as the HVAC system overworks;
  • Heating and cooling system not functioning properly;
  • Room air not heating or cooling;
  • Dusty air circulating in the room.

How to Clean Return Air Vents: A Step-by-step Process

Step 1: Power Off Your Air Conditioner

First, power off your air conditioning unit to avoid accidents. Don a pair of gloves, wear goggles, and put on a dust mask to prevent inhalation of dust particles as you clean the return air vent cover.

Step 2: Remove and Clean the Vent Cover

Remove the return air vent cover, and place them in a tub with warm, soapy water. You can safely use a mild detergent or dish soap to clean vent covers, and most vent covers are waterproof. Use a soft brush, such as a toothbrush, to scrub out the grime from the hard-to-reach areas, and rinse the vent covers thoroughly before leaving them to air dry.

Step 3: Tap the Sides of the Vent, and Vacuum

Moving on to the return vent, use a brush or screw driver to tap the sides of the vent to loosen up the dust. Take your vacuum cleaner, and vacuum up any visible dust bunnies. Use a long-handled brush to clean air ducts, then take a damp rag with some soapy water to wipe as far as you can reach. Let the vents dry completely.

Prevent dust from flying into the room by taping cling film over the exposed vent opening, then make a hole for the vacuum hose to run through. This is an effective way of cleaning air ducts as it allows the vacuum cleaner to concentrate its suction power on the dust in the air vents.

Step 4: Replace the Filter as Needed

Some filters placed on the return vent are disposable, and must be replaced after a certain period of time. If your furnace filter is in need of a replacement, or if they look grimey, have a musty smell, or mold growth, then it is a good idea to replace the filter with a brand-new one.

If your air filter is washable, simply wash the filter with some soapy water, and let it air dry along with the vent cover. Take note that filters need to be completely dry before placing them back into the unit to avoid malfunction and accidental electrocution.

Step 5: Place the Air Filters and Vent Covers Back in Place

Once the air filters and vent covers are dry, you can place them back into the ducts. We recommend cleaning air vents between professional duct cleaning as it will ensure your room gets clean air throughout the year.

Why Clean Air Vents?

Keeping your air vents clean keeps your air conditioner in good working order, and ensures that you're breathing in fresh and clean air. Let the professionals handle the duct cleaning, and give us a call at Luce Aircon. We'll tackle all your air conditioner needs!

Give us a call today to schedule your next AC cleaning! 

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer

This article is written by our passionate staff writers who seek to share our knowledge from our business

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