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How to Clean RV AC Ducts

RVs are very much like homes. They require maintenance on a regular basis to make them both hospitable and healthy. The air you breath will thank you for cleaning the inside of your RV and the vents that circulate air around.

There are unique, specific ways to clean your RV AC ducts. Some of these methods are not necessarily the same for your home, though in many ways they are similar.

Depending on the size of your AC ducts, you could use your hands. Other options include using a vacuum and a rotary brush. We will go over each method in detail to see which one works best for your situation.

Getting the covers off – the first step

The first step to getting your RV AC ducts clean is removing the covers from your AC ducts. These are most often found on the floor of the RV and sometimes on the side walls or ceilings.

Most of the time, you’ll only need a philips or flathead screwdriver at most to remove them. You could also consider vacuuming them off before removing if they are full of dust.

Each duct could have up to four screws. Just place the screws in a safe place so you can put the duct covers back on later.

Some ducts are also removable by hand. You might want to have a flat object to slide into the duct to avoid potentially hurting your fingers.

Cleaning RV AC ducts by hand

Before we begin on cleaning your RV AC ducts by hand, we are going to say that you should wear gloves for this method especially. You don’t really know what’s in your ducts, and the insides can be sharp. It’s also entirely possible that the ducts are pretty gross.

So you’ll want

  1. A pair of disposable or protective gloves, possibly both.
  2. A garbage bag

Reach into the duct, if your hand fits, and remove debris. Throw it in the garbage bag. 

While this method requires the last equipment, it’s also the least likely to get the ducts as clean as you want. You are limited to the reach of your arm and your ability to grab things in the duct. 

Cleaning RV AC ducts with a snake

So some terminology here – we aren’t telling you clean out your ducts with a slithering animal. The term snake is used for a tool that can send a long, sometimes more than 50 foot, cable into a vent or tolet. These are super convenience when your arm is too big to reach into an area.

Auger snakes also come in a variety of types. Some are manual and require a crank to continually pull the cord through a vent or pipe. Others are powered and require a cordless or corded drill to push.

Either way, using a snake certainly beats using your hands!

  1. Get the snake ready and read the instruction manual. Use only a clean snake. Since snakes are also used in toilets or bath tubs, you definitely don’t want these results in your air vents!
  2. Cover the end of the snake with an old rag. The old rag can make for a wider reach as you push or pull debris out. The rag also can help clean problem spots/
  3. Either manually crank the snake out into the vent or use the drill to let it push itself in.
  4. Slowly let the snake word it’s way through the vent. You’ll probably hear clanging and this isn’t a bad thing.
  5. You’ll also want to feel for resistance. There might be something sizable in the vent or something to clean.
  6. Once the snake is fully extended or reaches the end of the vent, you can start to bring it back

Get a trash bag ready. The snake will likely return with dust, grime and debris. But at least it won’t get circulated into your air anymore!

Wash the rag off and throw away debris.

Rotary brush or vacuum

Want a deeper clean of your vents? You could rent a rotary brush. The rotary brush is used in a similar manner as a snake. 

The brush itself is placed in the vents and a control arm, like a snake, pushes it through. The brush is capable cleaning the harder to reach parts of your vent. These can also have a vacuum that 

One shortcut to cleaning smaller vents is to take the extended hose for your vacuum and put it in the vent. You won’t be able to reach all that fair, but it can do a great job cleaning near the vent openings specifically.

Seeing what’s in there

A snake can have a camera on it to look at the debris as it moves it. These models are a bit higher priced though they certainly get the job done.

Another option without paying an arm and a leg is to get an endoscope and light for your phone. You can attach the light and look around the vents with the camera and light without doing the snake, yes. 

We bring this up because if you can identify a problem area, you can better evaluate the vents to see if you need a snake. Cleaning in a different way from a different vent can help, but a light and a camera gives you more knowledge before you dig in.

Conclusion

RV routine maintenance can include cleaning your air vents. Vent problems can happen given the presence of rodents or any peculiar smells. Allergy sufferers might also enjoy a good vent cleaning to get dust and pollen out of the air. 

The easiest method is using the snake. Using your hands or a vacuum are viable methods to clean a small area too. You could also consider getting a professional or renting a rotary brush and other methods of deep cleaning your vents. 

Try a method above and we hope that it drags some of the nastiness out of your vents. Breath some clean air!

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