It’s almost December here in New York and that means we have our furnace kicking on constantly and we’ve noticed that we are waking up, we are very dry and stuffed up and we think is our dirty heating ducts. We never had them clean, we don’t know if they’ve ever been cleaned, the house is forty years old. I couldn’t really find anything about cleaning them yourself, it’s all hiring people and these scams that companies are charging eighty dollars to clean your ducts, so I thought I’d give it a shot myself.
All I have is a leaf blower and a shop vac and a bit of good advice from my buddy who works for Appliance Masters in Austin on how to do this. I am going to cover up all the vents of the heating ducts and the cold air returns, I am going to turn on the shop vac down in the basement, I am going to turn on the leaf blower at each vent, blow it back down and see how it works. Okay. I am down here in the basement now and it’s a bit of a mess, but the first thing I want to do is turn off the furnace. You can hear that it’s running now and there is a shut off right here, it’s just a switch and it will shut the furnace right off.
You don’t want to turn it on while you are cleaning it out. All right. So one of the things I was worried about, all the videos online for the pro show hooking up that big suction tube at the bottom of their furnace, before they did that, they had to drill a hole in the air ducts. I was a little worried about that until I came down here and I saw these two plates. This is the heating ductwork and this is the cold air return ductwork and I don’t know if this means that these has been cleaned before or this is how it came, I can just take these plates off.
And this is where I am going to hook up the shop vac. All right. That was the last sheet metal screw, so let’s take a look up in there, see what it looks like. That’s pretty bad, I can’t really see down there. My original plan was to use a piece of cardboard to block the air from getting back into the furnace here, but then I saw in the basement that I have a lot of this extra insulation, so I think I am going to use that, I am going to shove that up in there and that will block all the dust from getting back into the furnace.
Most of the heating vents I can just lift off, but there are some that need to be screwed off like this one which is on the wall and I don’t know if it’s ever been taken off, so I have to do that before I can start with the shop vac. After opening up all the vents and cold air returns, most of them I looked down and they are all right. Some of them, like this one you see here is pretty bad. It’s just covered in dust, I don’t think this one ever been opened, as you can see. So definitely get a good cleaning on that before I even turn on the leaf blower to get rid of all that dust.
I just wanted to show you how I am covering all the vents. Here is the heating vent, I just put a shopping bag over the vent and I am using the grate to hold it down, so that no air can get out. And for the cold air returns, I just use a piece of cardboard or more paper bag, I tapped it up and I am just holding it. So I did that for every single vent in the house, including the two in the basement. Okay. I am already to go, I have all the cold air returns covered and heat vents covered and the one I am going to work on first is the heating vents.
Two vents right next to each other. This is the cold air return, this is the heat vent and you can tell because this is where the smaller ductwork comes off of. If you go over to where the furnace is, that’s where I have the shop vac connected and I have insulation stuffed all in here and around here to try and seal it off from air and I am going to turn this on and then I am going to go upstairs and turn on the leaf blower at the furthest point away from the furnace. So here is the shop vac on.
I just turned the shop vac back on in the basement and I can hear it running, I am at the heat vent which is furthest away from the furnace and I am about to turn on the leaf blower and try to blow all that dust down to where the shop vac. Like I said, I have the vacuum at the heat vent, so I am blowing this at the heat vent. After I do all of this work, on my way down towards the furnace, I am going to switch over to the cold air returns and do the same thing. Right now I have every single vent in the house covered, except this one and I am going to try and blow the air back down toward the furnace.
So I finished with the heat vents and now I am going to work on the cold air ducts. This is the furthest cold air duct from the furnace, I’ve already switched out the shop vac to the other vent and I cleaned out the filter and I am ready to go. It’s a little noisy, but what I have now is both – the leaf blower and the shop vac running and I can hear that it’s coming out of this vent right here toward the main line. So I am just going to bang on these pipes to try and loosen up any dust. Okay.
I left that running for about two minutes and as you can see I kind of had to cover up the hole to try and get the most air blowing down that vent. I am going to cover this one up and I am going to next one down the line, one closer to the furnace. I was halfway through this and I realized I might of make a mistake. Some of the vents, I thought they all came into this main vent, some of them are actually coming on the back side of the furnace. I could tell that the air was coming this direction, so I flipped all the insulation around and I was sucking from the furnace rather than this direction, which I though all the air came.
I didn’t know which vent is which until I got down here and I could hear the air blowing to a certain vents, so when I came down I wrote and that’s how I did half of the vents in the house. So I just finished cleaning all the vents, cold air returns and heat vents, the whole thing took about three and a half hours, I think you could probably do it on a normal size house in about four hours, one person. It would be a lot easier if you had two people, one upstairs, one downstairs by the furnace, it wasn’t too bad, hopefully I got rid of all the dust and breathe a lot easier when the heat kicks on at night.