Watch: decades of dust removed from air conditioning ducts

Originally published at: Watch: decades of dust removed from air conditioning ducts | Boing Boing


Gross. We bought our current place from a cat owner who had never cleaned the ducts in 20+ years. 8 cats. We had the duct cleaning folks there on move-in day.


Every time someone asks about Duct Cleaning recommendations on my NextDoor groups, we have Anti Duct Cleaners show up that claim if you disturb ANY of this accumulated crap that it makes your Allergies WORSE and all that crap in the ducts is actually trapping stuff like a filter.


My asthma says no thank you.


After moving in, we had our ducts cleaned by a pair of big fun loving Russian brothers with a big fun loving vacuum truck. It was hilarious! Exactly how’d you expect. “Da! We get your house clean fast. You not worry. Relax. Relax. Relaaaax.” They did a great job all the while yelling at each other back and forth in half Russian half english throughout the house for about 3 hours. The ducts hadn’t been cleaned ever I believe. Hell, you could have grown corn in the intakes. It was a different house afterwards.



As our man in the field, Jamie Hyneman, would say, “There’s your problem.”


I’ll bet they have a name for it, too, like in this scenario:


Duct cleaning is a racket. Heavily advertised and profitable, but for most homeowners it’s a big waste of money. If you have floor ducts, you can lift the covers off and get most of what the “pros” remove with a vacuum cleaner. There are exceptions but they are rare. If you have an old home where the previous owners never replaced the filters, your HVAC system desparately needs maintenance. But call a certified HVAC tech for that work.

If your system is fairly new and the filters have been kept up, you don’t have a problem. The system intakes are filtered, and the floor and wall ducts blow air out. Those scary videos you see on commercials and youtube are either the bottom three percent or staged.

You don’t have to take my word on this, there’s plenty of info about it online (, Consumer Reports, etc.) Just google air duct cleaning and scam.


I have no doubt they can be. But “bottom 3%” still covers millions of houses in the US alone, and from personal experience there’s no way I’m breathing the air coming out of those ducts on a daily basis. (Bought a horrid 1950s house that had apparently never had the floors cleaned, much less the ducts.)


OMG I’m covered with human skin cells! Get them off! GET THEM OFF!!!


I concur. Change your filters regularly. Vacuum out floor registers.
They keep the truck full of dust to show you want came out of ‘your’ ducts.
Don’t fall for scams.

Some of that looks like dryer vent lint.

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If the “whiskers” tool reminds you of something and you’re not sure what, you may be thinking of some of the practical effects from John Carpenter’s The Thing, which I’m pretty sure used exactly the same technique:

(Gif folded up for body horror reasons, click to expand)

the thing tentacles

EDIT: Thanks @codinghorror for introducing me to [details].

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If you are interested in doing this after seeing the video, be sure you go with one licensed to do so and certified by the NADCA. There’s a lot of places that will clean ducts, so the certification at least means you’re going to get it done by someone with training.

Also, if you get a $99 quote, prepare to get fleeced. That won’t include a lot of stuff, so you’re in for a ride. It will cost a few hundred for a quality job.

I’ve done this twice, at two different houses. At my first house, which was a bit over 30 at that point, the cleaning was…terrifying. Especially since we’d been there for 10 years. At one point, they found a 6 inch toy truck. The second time, at my current home, I wasn’t as impressed. The group came in highly recommended but I didn’t see the difference in airflow and dust levels I did the first time. Then again, my current house is much newer, and had just one owner - an elderly couple.


I have a song for you.


Well that’s an interesting edge case in the new discourse gif controls - the gif plays while blurred but clicking it pauses the playback and reveals the gif. Click it to play and it goes back to being blurred and then resumes.


I can see how, on the first day after cleaning, perhaps, there might be some loose dust kicked up.

What surprised me about this video: he’s only wearing a N95 mask. And street clothes. You’d think he’d wear a real P100-type mask and some sort of work wear, since he’s getting constantly filthy and exposed to fine dust particles.

Also, no one’s mentioning: that nutrient-rich dust must be just saturated with an entire food chain of insectoid-life, from skin mites on up.


is dust a good source of protein :thinking:

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