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The Ultimate Guide To Ductwork Cleaning

Ductwork systems are used throughout a vast array of corporate and commercial properties, multiple dwellings, public buildings such as hospitals, prisons and municipal facilities, as well as a growing number of private dwellings. They are usually used to provide ventilation, drawing in fresher air from the outside and removing staler, used air which may contain pollutants. This allows the indoor atmosphere to be regularly refreshed, providing a healthier indoor environment for occupants.

The air is full of tiny particles such as pollen, dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants which, over time, get trapped inside ductwork. This can reduce the effectiveness of the ventilation in refreshing the indoor air quality and allow poorer quality air to be recirculated. If ductwork is not cleaned regularly, it can have a negative effect both on the efficiency of the ventilation system, and on the health and wellbeing of those who work, live or reside in that space.

What Is Duct Cleaning?

Duct cleaning refers to the removal of numerous impurities and contaminants such as dust, mould, dirt, VOCs and bacteria from within duct systems.

Professional ductwork cleaning typically involves the use of powerful vacuums that are designed to remove all of the unwanted dirt, dust and debris, making the systems more efficient and preventing airborne impurities from circulating throughout the property.

Is Duct Cleaning A Legal Requirement?

Commercial properties, offices, shops, hotels, hospitals and public buildings will typically contain a network of ducts within the ceilings and walls. Not surprisingly, there are a number of rules and strict legislation governing the maintenance and cleaning of ductwork in order to ensure the health and safety of those within the property.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 states that employers or persons in charge of the premises owe the “common duty of care” to employees and anybody using or visiting the property; and they are required to exercise this duty “so far as is reasonably practical”.

These regulations require building owners, managers, or those responsible, to ensure that there is a good supply of clean air into the building, and that the ductwork which delivers it undergoes regular expert cleaning, inspections and maintenance.

It is vital to keep detailed records of any work that is carried out. This should, include photographic evidence, because it provides a protection for a responsible person whose task is to ensure adequate cleaning of ductwork. Any responsible person found to be negligent in this duty may face prosecution under this legislation.

How Often Should Duct Cleaning Be Carried Out?

It can be difficult to know if and when ductwork needs cleaning but, ventilation ducts should be cleaned if there is visible sign of debris, dust, mould or particles being released into the room.
The leading guidance document for ventilation ductwork hygiene is issued by the BESA, and is known as TR19®. This gives clear guidance as to the classification of ductwork and how often it should be cleaned. Each ductwork system, or section of the system, should be classified as high, medium or low, according to the usage of the facility that it serves. For example, a hospital operating theatre will be high, while an infrequently occupied boiler room will probably be classified as low.

TR19® also lays out, in helpful tables, on how frequently certain ductwork should be professionally cleaned in accordance with its classification and usage. In the past, this was often ignored as ductwork was ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Because their placement is often very much behind the scenes, it is easy for ductwork systems to go untouched and unchecked for years. Unfortunately, in the meantime unwanted particles will build up and infiltrate the air system.

Here are some incidences or signs that you might want to look into professional duct cleaning services:

Building Work / Renovations

TR19® now has a provision that new ductwork systems must be clean before initial commissioning. However, renovation and refurbishment work can create a lot of airborne dust which has the potential to be hazardous. Ducts should always be sealed off before work is carried out. If this is neglected, dangerous particles and debris can make their way into the ductwork.


If you can see any visible mould growth around the entrance to or inside the ductwork then it is important to get it cleaned properly as soon as possible.


You may be able to see or smell noticeable odours, debris, hair, or other contaminants being released into the room. This usually indicates that there is a need for thorough, TR19® compliant cleaning.


If someone in the building or property suddenly suffers from an unexplained allergy-related illness that can’t be accounted for, it is worth checking when the ventilation ductwork was last cleaned.
Harmful irritants, allergens and pollutants are not always visible to the naked eye, and if they have accumulated in longer runs of ductwork, they will not be visible at all from the outside.

What Types Of Duct Cleaning Services Do You Offer?

At Swiftclean, we offer a wide range of duct cleaning services, to provide compliance with TR19®. We also provide kitchen extract fire safety cleaning, which must also be carried out regularly in compliance with the TR19® Grease specification which covers kitchen extract cleaning.

Our professional teams have the knowledge, skills and equipment to deliver a comprehensive range of services, including:

Many duct systems do not have in place sufficient access points through which cleaning can be completed. Our teams are able to identify the strategic points at which additional access doors should be installed and to retrofit them, allowing ease of access for future cleaning and inspections.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to one of our specialist advisors, then do not hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to help.