Maybe you’ve seen ads in local papers – companies you’ve never heard of advertising duct cleaning services for unimaginably low prices – $49.95 for your whole house! If these prices sound too good to be true, it’s usually because they are - you sign up for service and get an “air conditioning tech” to come out and clean your ducts. The supposed serviceman then goes downstairs, sends a few text messages, sits around for an hour or two, then goes upstairs and tells you your problem is too much for a normal air duct cleaning job and that you’ll need at least $500 worth of service.
Wait…what?? It’s true – there have been multiple hidden camera news stories about these unscrupulous dealers and their methods. Companies like these prey on the elderly and the unexpecting, trying to drain as much money from them as possible. The worst part is, they too often get away with it .
So how do you avoid these air duct cleaning scammers? The easiest way to avoid air duct cleaning scams is to first think about exactly why you need air duct cleaning. You should only need air duct cleaning once every couple years, or annually if anyone in your home suffers from bad allergies. There are a number of other sure signs that an air duct cleaning company is not what they say they are:
Don’t trust any company that extols the health benefits of duct cleaning. While it is true that periodic duct cleaning will improve indoor air quality, any exaggerated health claims are usually unsubstantiated. Along the same lines, be wary of air duct cleaners who claim to be “certified by the EPA.” The EPA doesn’t offer duct cleaning certification!
A reputable air duct cleaning may recommend the use of biocides or chemical treatments to get rid of mold or bacteria growth. Before you sign on for these services, make sure the air duct cleaning technician fully explains the pros and cons. And do your best to find an air duct cleaning company that charges per job, not based on how many hours the job will take.
When should you have your air ducts cleaned? One of the easiest ways to tell a company is going to do a bad job with your air duct cleaning is if they claim that you need regular or frequent duct cleaning. In reality, you should only need your ducts cleaned if:
You have visible mold growth in your air ducts or in other parts of your HVAC system.
Your ducts are infested with vermin, such as rodents or insects. Your ducts are clogged with dirt or debris that is restricting airflow.Your indoor air quality dramatically worsens or members of your family suffer from indoor allergies
There are reputable air duct cleaning companies, and here’s what you can expect that they will do:
Open all the access ports or doors to allow your entire duct system to be inspected and cleaned.
Prior to cleaning, the contractor should inspect your entire duct system to make sure it is free from asbestos containing materials, which require special equipment and procedures to remove and should not be otherwise disturbed.
Use specialized vacuum equipment – either vacuums that vent to the outside or that use HEPA air filters to make sure that any dust they are removing doesn’t end up in your home where it can seriously decrease your air quality.
Lay down protective covers over your carpeting and household furnishing before beginning cleaning.
Use soft-bristled brushes for fiberglass duct board and fiberglass-lined sheet metal ducts to avoid damaging the fiberglass.
Reseal and re-insulate any access holes made or used during the duct cleaning process so that the ducts remain airtight (remember, leaky ducts are among the leading causes of inefficiency in your HVAC system!).
Air duct cleaning is not the “magic bullet” that will solve all of your indoor air quality and health issues. However, it is still important to have it done.
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