How to Clean Your Air Vents to Increase Efficiency

People always ask me what can they do to save on their energy costs when it comes to their home comfort system or heating and cooling system. The easiest way besides simply changing the air filter for your furnace regularly is to clean your air vents.

It’s pretty simple and doesn’t take a lot of time and it is definitely worth it. Here is a quick “How To” to make it even easier. Before you start taking off all the grilles for the supply and returns, you should make a quick inspection of all of your vents. We want to check for air flow and the vents could be anywhere. They can be found behind couches, bookshelves, cabinets under end tables, behind desks. Most of them may not be getting air flow at all and that is bad news for your furnace. There should be at least three inches of space or clearance around the vents in order for the air to circulate the way it was meant too. If not your furnace is working harder and therefore costing you more money to operate. If you have to move your couch out a few inches, I would do it.

Next let’s check your dampers if you have any. They are the little levers on the grilles that you can open or close. You can set these according to how you want or don’t want the air to circulate. It is not recommended to have too many of them closed throughout the house though as it causes the furnace to work less efficiently. Now since we are getting ready to clean the vents, let’s decide if we want to keep them as is. Some vents may be old and rusty, some may not even work. Now is the perfect time for you to change them out.

So to perform a basic clean of your vents you will need a few items. You should have most of these in your house already. You will need a vacuum cleaner preferably with a crevice attachment, some cleaning soap like dish soap, something without a strong chemical smell, a duster, a few rags, a sponge, a Phillip’s or standard screw driver to unscrew the vent covers and an old toothbrush if you have one.

So now let’s take off the covers with your screw driver and set them off to the side. Take a look inside the vent. You may be surprised what you will find in there. It is a great place to collect some nasty items. You might find pet hair, your hair, spider webs and lots of lots of dust.

Now take your vacuum crevice attachment and start sucking out all that nasty dirt and dust. Make sure your attachment is secured so you don’t lose it in your vent. Reach as far as you can. Now go in with your duster and wiggle it around to shake off even more dust. Vacuum again.

It’s time to get your rag and get it damp with water and soap. Simply start wiping as far as you can reach into the vents as well as the surrounding metal. Once you have that done, let’s get to the cover. Do a quick vacuum and then take it to your sink if you can and give it a good cleaning with soap and water. You can use a sponge and if you have one, an old tooth brush works great to get in between the vents. If it is an older cover it may not look brand new after you clean it, but that doesn’t matter. We just need to make sure it’s clean and dust free.

Once the cover is dry, you will re-attach it and go clean another one. Every supply and return vent should be cleaned the same way. The process doesn’t take too long and you’ll be glad you did it. Fresher air means cleaner air and it smells better especially when you know you may be saving money.