Air Duct Cleaning Equipment

Proper air duct cleaning equipment is crucial for succeeding in the duct cleaning business. Because of the importance of heating and air conditioning, homeowners demand exceptional duct cleaning services. This illustrates the importance of the need to invest in delivering quality service. The right air duct cleaning equipment can keep your customers  satisfied.

In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about air duct cleaning. We will cover proper air duct cleaning practices and the different types of equipment available in the market today.

What is an Air Duct

If you ask the average homeowner about Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), they will likely picture the bulky air conditioner outside their home, the furnace in their basement, or the vents around their house.  Few of them will think about the the air ducts that bring everything together.

Air Ducts provide the warmed or cooled air to move throughout a home.

Air ducts comprises of the main trunk and the duct pipes that connect the trunk to each of the rooms. These trunks and pipes are often made of flexible ducting or galvanized metal that need to weave around cieling joist.

What is Air Duct Cleaning

Air duct cleaning refers to the removal of dust and debris from ductwork using professional air duct cleaning equipment.

A typical air duct cleaning operation touches on the supply, intake, and return vents. It can also include cleaning the grills and registers, heating and cooling coils, and condensate drain pans. Most HVAC companies offer holistic duct cleaning as part of their comprehensive maintenance service packages.

Importance of Air Duct Cleaning

According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the average home creates up to 40 pounds of dust annually. An HVAC system circulates air several times a day. Dust and debris continuously get pulled into air ducts and accumulate on their walls. When enough of these elements have built up, they can find their way back into living spaces.

Because air ducts are often hidden behind walls or above ceilings, it is easy to forget they need maintenance.

Duct cleaning can promote the airflow by removing all the debris stuck in an HVAC system. It can also make a central air conditioning system more efficient and long-lasting.

How to Clean an Air Duct

As a duct cleaning contractor, it is your job to ensure a client’s ductwork is cleaned properly. Knowing the best practices will give you the confidence to guarantee your customers quality service.

  • Accessing the system
  • Loosening the dust and debris
  • Collecting the debris
  • Sanitizing the ductwork

Accessing the system

Not all premises offer easy access to ductwork. Therefore, getting to the ducts that need cleaning can require significant effort.

The easiest way to access duct interiors is through existing openings. These can be supply diffusers, return grills, or duct end caps. You may also need to cut entry holes in the duct pipes to get inside with the cleaning tools.

Loosening the Dust & Debris

Once you gain access to the ductwork, the next step is dislodging the dirt stuck on the air duct walls. For effective loosening, you need specialized agitation devices.

Depending on the severity of the dust and debris, you can use rotary brushes, air whips, or compressed air nozzles. You can also dislodge a considerable amount of debris through hand-brushing and contact vacuuming.

Sanitizing the ductwork

An air duct cleaning operation can also include applying sanitizer to nonporous surfaces in the HVAC system. Theses sanitizers can also be disinfectants or deodorizers.

Only consider using these products after you have cleaned the ducts mechanically by agitation and vacuuming. That way you will be sure that treatment is needed.

Collecting the debris

Connecting the vacuum to the duct register & return creates negative pressure in the ductwork. The dirt being dislodged can now be captured in a vacuum source.

The vacuum conveniently sucks out all loosened dust & debris and collects them into a vacuum.

Different types of Air Duct Cleaning Equipment

Knowing how to clean ductwork is only one half of the coin. The other is having all the air duct cleaning equipment you need to do the job properly.

A successful duct cleaning operation will typically involve the use of several different types of equipment. Todays professional duct cleaners use the many of the tools listed below:

Cleaning Tools

Cleaning tools come in different shapes and forms. However, their general purpose is the same, to agitate the debris and dislodge it from the air duct walls. Once removed the dust and debris can be propelled toward the collection devise.

The most popular professional cleaning tools are rotary brushes, air guns, and air whips.

Rotary brushes  (only for use on metal ducting)

A basic rotary system comprises a brush attached to a rotating shaft. You can drive the shaft with a suitably sized drill that has variable speed operation. The brush knocks off debris when it rotates in the duct.

Check out out Rotary Brush System!

Air guns

You can use a high-powered air gun to “air-wash” surfaces like register covers. Air washing pushes debris into the vacuum. We include a metal air gun in our Complete Duct cleaning package and our Basic Duct Cleaning package.

Air whips

An air whip can come in handy when loosening stubborn dirt. Its plastic tentacles will thrash aggressively against the walls of the air duct.

The tentacles are usually equipped with nozzles. The air blasts from these nozzles are incredibly useful in pushing dislodged debris toward the collection device.

Vacuum Collection Devices

Vacuum units create negative pressure in the HVAC system to control the movement of dust and debris when cleaning.

Portable vacuum allows you to position closer to the ductwork. A portable vacuum works with a shorter hose. A shorter suction hose loses less suction power than a long hose used in a truck-mounted machine.


Compressors (not included in any of Pro Air’s packages)

Many tools used in air duct cleaning are electrically powered. A compressor is  a necessary machine for the many air tools needed to clean air ducts. Air guns, air reverse balls, spray guns and air whips rely on the air pressure to use this type of duct cleaning equipment.

Portable varieties are available for use in worksites where truck access is limited.

Why do you need Air Duct Cleaning Equipment

You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should be occasionally cleaned.

That said, proper air duct cleaning tools can be a substantial investment. Many cleaning companies struggle with justifying the large cost outlay. Some professionals even make the mistake of buying inadequate equipment that does not clean ducts properly.

The right equipment will benefit your air duct cleaning business in the following ways.

Effective cleaning

You can use a wide array of tools to clean an air duct. However the severity of dust and debris varies and the ductwork structure requires you to know the type of duct cleaning tools to use.

If you use equipment meant for a different type of duct surface you might need more effort to clean the air duct sufficiently. Similarly, if you apply more rigorous cleaning than necessary, you may end up damaging the ductwork.


Using appropriate air duct cleaning equipment ensures you get the job done right the first time and avoid repeat jobs that would negatively affect your margins.

Pros & Cons of Air Duct Cleaning Equipment

All types of air duct cleaning equipment have their individual characteristics. By considering their specific strengths and weaknesses, you can accurately determine where and how best to use them.

Below is our breakdown of the pluses and minuses of some common air duct cleaning tools.

Air Reverse Ball

An air reverse ball pulls or blows the debris towards the opening in the air duct. It uses air pressure with the duct surface effectively removing the built-up dirt. The reverse ball also have air holes that blow air backwards towards the vacuum suction.

An air reverse ball is best used to clean light to medium dirt accumulation in small and medium ductwork.


  • Easy to use
  • Makes air contact with the entire duct surface
  • Flexible air hose can navigate through the ductwork turns and drops


  • Is not as efficient as cleaning with an air whip

Air whips

An air whip thrashes around inside the air duct. It makes contact with the duct surface, effectively removing the built-up dirt. The air whip bristles also have nozzles that blow air forward towards the vacuum suction.

An air whip is best used to clean light to medium dirt accumulation in small and medium ductwork.


  • Easy to use
  • Makes contact with the entire duct surface
  • Flexible air whip can navigate through the ductwork turns and drops
  • Cleans better than reverse balls


  • Is not as efficient as cleaning with a rotary brush

Rotary brush systems    (only used on metal ducts)

A rotary brush system removes accumulated dirt by knocking it off aggressively with rotating brush bristles. You can use it to clean all types of small and medium-size ductwork.


  • Easy to use
  • Makes contact with the entire duct surface
  • Flexible rotary systems can navigate through the ductwork’s turns and drops
  • Cleans better than both air reverse balls and air whips


  • The brush can wear out over time and needs to be replaced

How to buy a Portable Vacuum Unit


A portable vacuum is the most sensible solution for companies that clean small and medium sized HVAC systems. It is cheaper and more convenient than a truck-mounted machine. It also gets as close to ductwork as possible. 

With so many brands and models, it can be challenging to choose a portable vacuum for air duct cleaning. Considering the features below, will give you the best chance of purchasing the right unit. 



A portable vacuum is meant to be wheeled and carried. The heavier the unit the more cumbersome it will be in moving it around in your worksite. You can achieve this by getting a unit with a light dolly, such as the Pro Air Dual Motor Portable Vacuum System. 

What are customers saying about Pro Air Duct Cleaning Equipment


As one of the leading companies in the air duct cleaning equipment business, Pro Air prides itself on providing comprehensive systems at affordable prices. 

Former clients have expressed satisfaction in the reliability of their equipment. As reviews further indicate, customers are delighted with the value that the equipment has added to their duct cleaning businesses. 

Pro Air has come up with a system that allows me to integrate Duct Cleaning in our HVAC Repair & Maintenance. It has created addition income that I hoped for and it has payed for self in a month.

Chris Dalton, Owner
Indio, CA

It has increased my average job by $800!! It gives me the option of being a complete air quality service.

Aron Rodgers, Owner
Westminster, CA

More people are worried about their Air Ducts than ever before. Best priced machine I could find for under 5,000.

Roberto Rameriz, Owner
Inglewood, CA



Does Pro Air offer any financing?

Yes we do! Check out our finacing link in our menu.

What type of revenue can I expect?

Typical charges for duct cleaning starts at $22 per sq ft 1200 sq. ft. home = $264 (our minimum $299)
or by areas to be cleaned: HVAC unit cleaning, registers or air handlers, returns & sanitizing
$50 – $70:  HVAC Unit
$35:  Returns
$33:  Registers

Does Pro Air offer a Rotary Brush System?

YES!  Nearly all residential ducting consists of a thin, flexible plastic lining, which is easily damaged by rotary bushing. But many commercial metal ducts need a brush tool to clean some types of commercial ducting and is offered as an add on to any of our cleaning packages.


Why should I add air duct cleaning to my business?

Adding air duct cleaning to your business creates an additional revenue stream. There’s a growing demand for the services of removing dust and debris from ducts. If you can’t provide them, another company will—and that gives your competition a foot in the door with your existing customers and prospects alike. These services are simple to provide, they can be profitable quickly, and they’re a natural extension of your existing business.

Does Pro Air Unit clean the HVAC trunk-line?

Many Negative Air Duct Cleaning System companies will tell you that Contact Method duct cleaning equipment companies ignore the trunk lines. Maybe some do but we do not. Trunk Lines is the main source of air flow in any forced-air system and it requires inspection to see if there is attached debris. The maximum air flow is at the trunk line meaning the most powerful part of any forced-air system is the motor or fan that pushes air to all the registers. (pushes air flow to you)

In our years of experience, we have examined first hand that trunk lines and rarely (95% of the time) find debris. Most of the debris ends up at the registers because the air flow is at the lowest pressure as the forced-air system spiders out to all the register openings. Does that make sense? The easiest way to think of this is the more open registers there are, the less air flow to each duct opening will be achieved. Therefore, on large homes or offices there are more forced-air units required to achieve comfortable heating or air conditioning.

How much time is involved in a duct cleaning job?

Pro Air Duct Cleaning system cuts time down dramatically with our Complete Duct Cleaning Package because of its portability.  Depending on the job size will better determine time spent. Negative air systems tend to be large, heavy & costly. Moving this type of cleaning unit in and out of homes takes more time to set-up and tear down per job. 

Do you need training for use of the Pro Air System?


You need training for use of the Pro Air system and it  is included with your purchase.  We provide you a private Youtube channel as well as our customer service hot-line to answer any question you may have. Many people find our system simple and easy to use. You’ll probably spend 2 hours reviewing the material, and you’ll be comfortable performing your first duct cleaning right out of the gate. We recommend watching our youtube training video and practice on your own home. If you do have questions at any time, our tech support line is open to all Pro Air Members. You will have questions when you start and we are here for you and will walk you through the steps.


How does Pro Air's Dual Motor Vacuum compares to others


Pro Air Dual Motor Vacuum system is a very powerful suction source in our cleaning package. With a powerful 175 PSI compressor and our reverse ball blows the sides of the duct as it loosenes dust & debris toward our clear duct box.  Since much of the air movement is supplied by the air compressor, the vacuum source can vary from a high-quality portable unit to a truck-mounted vacuum (such as those used by carpet cleaners). Pro Air’s Powerful Dual Motor Vac System combines the convenience of a portable with the power of a truckmount in a lightweight (74 pounds!), extremely powerful 900 Air Watts, 145 CFM, 160 Water-lift, 120 Volt machine. No other portable machine on the market can compare to the easy maneuverability and professional look.

What type of air compressor is recommended?

One of the important factors in an air compressor is the tank capacity. You want to be sure to have enough air available to sustain the 25-30 seconds of blasting required for each duct between recharge times. A minimum of 15-20 gallons capacity is recommended.  We use the Craftsman Air Compressor, 20 Gallon, 1.8 HP, Oil-Free Air Tools, Max 175 PSI Pressure. However any brand with 175 psi power will work correctly.

Can you cleaning Dryer Vent Ducts with Pro Air system?

This is another area in which our system works extremely well.  We use our reverse ball & air compressor and sometimes on larger metal ducts we will use our brush system.  We have done many dryer vent cleanings and is a nice add-on or stand alone service.  Our training video covers this is in detail. Average pricing $129-$299 (Roof Access)

If duct openings are too large what do I do?

This happens a lot in commercial cleaning projects. The 16”x 8” opening of our vacuum box is large enough to cover nearly all supply duct openings in residential homes. For cleaning registers and returns in commercial ducts our 24” x 24” Vacuum Plate works perfect.