Are you thinking of getting your air ducts cleaned? Where do you start? How do you know if they are a good reputable company?

I hate to say this of my own industry, but most duct cleaners are either poorly trained, if at all, or they are simply scam artists. It’s a buyer beware market. So be careful, and ask a lot of questions. Without going into a full description of the process and tools, I’ll give you a brief explanation of the process and then tell you what to look for when selecting a contractor.

Air duct cleaning is usually done by connecting a large vacuum to the duct system and placing the ducts under a negative pressure or vacuum so that when the technician runs the tools through the ducts and dislodge the dirt, the dirt gets sucked back to the vacuum and collected. Mechanical brushes and high pressure compressed air whip systems are the most popular cleaning tools used today. A single furnace home can take anywhere from 3-5 man hours to clean depending on the size of the home.

Some of the less reputable companies may shove a regular vacuum hoses down the ducts, or use lawn and leaf blowers to blow into the vents, and they are gone in 45 minutes to an hour. We refer to contractors like this as “Blow and Go” cleaners. They are usually the ones that offer very low pricing. In my industry, low pricing always means poor quality! You get what you pay for. Remember, a poor air duct cleaning can actually make the system worse than before it was cleaned.

Here are some questions to ask every company you are talking to.

  • Do you use mechanical brushes?
  • Do you run tools through each vent?
  • How do you verify cleanliness after the job is completed? i.e. digital cameras, or video.
  • Do you offer a warranty? (If not, why?)
  • How long does the process take? (Remember, 3-5 man hours for a single furnace home depending on the home.)
  • Are they insured? (Can they provide a certificate of insurance.)

Here are some other things to be careful of.

Beware the contractor that tries to sell you deodorizers, disinfectants, or sanitizer. In most cases, these services are not needed. They are sold to increase the total job cost. The EPA did a study 7-8 years ago regarding mold in air duct systems. They took 2 ducts with mold in them. They cleaned one of them using conventional cleaning methods and sprayed a disinfectant in the other. They then tested the ducts for a mold count, and found that they achieved the same level of efficacy in reducing mold spores. The consensus was this; If they could achieve the same level of efficacy by cleaning, why spray a potentially caustic chemical in the system. In simpler terms, if you have a backyard filled with poison ivy, and sprayed a pesticide to kill it, you still have a backyard filled with dead poison ivy. Why not just remove it.

Also be careful of the contractor with confusing price structures, or bait and switch pricing. Contractors should have straight forward pricing. If not, don’t let them start work. You should know the total price of the service before they start work. They should also sit down with you and thoroughly explain the process to you before they start work. remember, if you’re not comfortable with them, it is your right to ask them to leave.

Another recommendation is to call the Better Business Bureau on anyone you talk to. They won’t tell you if they are a bad contractor, but you’ll know if they are bad based on the number of complaints against them.

Remember, ask questions!

I hope I have answered some of the questions you might have, but if not, feel free to call us at 630-776-6326 , or check out our website

Thanks again for visiting the Airborne Professionals Blog.