Tips on Duct Cleaning

Follow these tips to make sure you’re hiring a reliable air duct cleaning service for your home.

Need to hire an air duct cleaning professional for your home? You may be spending several hundred dollars, and scam artists may try to convince you there’s dangerous mold or health issues in your ducts to get you to spend even more money. For instance, that $49 coupon that came in the mail might end up costing you a whole lot more.

Never fear; here are some tips to ensure you’re hiring a reputable air duct cleaner and not just a blow-and-go company who’s trying to scam you.

Do you really need an air duct cleaning?

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends cleaning your air ducts every three to five years. The EPA doesn’t suggest a specific timeline, but recommends doing so if you have substantial mold growth, a vermin infestation or excessive amounts of dust and debris in your system.

Make sure air duct cleaners follow NADCA or EPA standards when working in your home. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

How much should air duct cleaning cost?

A proper air duct cleaning job will costbetween $400 and $1,000, according to NADCA and the EPA. It varies quite a bit by the size of the home, but experts say to expect to pay around $500 for the average home.

Avoid the bait-and-switch scam

One of the most common scams among unscrupulous cleaners is to get their foot in the door with a $49 “whole-house” cleaning price in a coupon or mailer, then pile on many extra charges or upsell services.

Once they start talking about “extra returns” and “main lines,” you can end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unexpected fees for the “$49” cleaning. A good air duct cleaning, properly done by a certified contractor, is going to cost at least a few hundred dollars. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Many of these ads list a limit in the fine print, such as 10 vents and one main trunk line, but most homes have more than 10 vents and at least two main trunks. Companies usually add extra charges for all these other lines. And even if you get them to do the work for the advertised price, a lot of these “blow and go” contractors just stick a vacuum over the vents and call it a day. A true air duct cleaning includes much more than that.

Mold is an important concern, but get a second opinion if someone tries the hard sell on you about mold. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

What should I look for in a good air duct cleaner?

Most states and cities don’t license air duct cleaners, so you’ll need to vet them some other way. Ask for proof of liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage.

Any reputable company will have this coverage and be happy to provide written proof. If they won’t do so, find another company — this one is probably unreliable, and you could be on the hook for big money if they damage your house or one of their employees is injured while on your property.

Make sure the company has been around a while and kept the same name. If a company has been around your community for years, they’re unlikely to disappear next week if you have a problem. If the air duct cleaning company popped up three weeks ago and doesn’t have an office location listed, treat them skeptically.

Ask for references, and check them. For a job that could cost as much as $1,000, it’s worth taking the time to get it right. Check out their reviews on Angie’s List as well.

Ask the company whether they follow EPA guidelines for air duct cleaning and follow through to make sure they do so.

Are they NADCA members?

Air duct cleaning companies who hold membership and certification in NADCA are your best bet for a reliable company.

NADCA members agree to follow the association’s code of ethics and must carry liability insurance to maintain their membership. At least one person employed by the company must have completed NADCA training and hold certification. NADCA members also agree to follow the association’s best practices, which involve addressing the entire HVAC system and not just the ductwork.

Are daily deal discounts a good thing or a rip-off?

If you hire an air duct cleaner through a daily deal that offers a significant discount, they still shouldn’t cut corners.

Experienced duct cleaners say you should expect the same level of service as if you had paid full price. Look at the fine print and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting — if the deal offers a $199 single-system air duct cleaning, make sure you know how many systems are in your home.

What happens if they find mold in my ducts?

If an air duct cleaner says they’ve found mold in your air ducts and recommends an expensive treatment to get rid of it, don’t hesitate to ask them to wait so you can get a second opinion. A reputable contractor won’t mind.

If they make a high-pressure sales pitch and insist you get the work done right away without time to think about it, and invoke scary stories of health and your family getting sick, hire someone else.

Have you hired an air duct cleaner? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Credit Article to

Paul Pogue
July 25, 2016