3 red flags when hiring for air duct cleaning

Consumers need to be alert to the unscrupulous practices of some air duct cleaning companies that offer very low prices to get in the door, but then upsell on additional services such as mold remediation that might not be needed.

Some tips:

• Don't get sucked in by too-good-to-be-true coupons and advertisements promising lower prices. Duct cleaning for a 2,000-square-foot home should typically cost no less than $400 and take several hours to complete.

• Make sure your air duct cleaning professional follows the National Air Duct Cleaners Association's standards, as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.

• Be wary of any air duct technician who uses scare tactics to tack on exorbitant fees for mold remediation services or related products. If you have any concerns, consider consulting an independent mold expert.

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To Linda- You might want to reconsider the Pine Sol part of your annual routine; Consumer Reports did a study years ago and found that Pine Sol doesn't clean anything - it just pushes the dirt around. People assume because of the scent it cleans - but it doesn't.

Thank you to those who have alerted us of negative Big Deal experiences. Your feedback is taken seriously, and we have begun to look into these issues.

I started coming down with monthly sinus infections and I believe it stemmed from dirty air ducts. Out of desperation, I had my adult son assist me in cleaning the duct work by removing all the vents and cleaning thoroughly with boiling water and Pine Sol. He stood on a ladder and cleaned while I would wash out the cloth and give it back to him. After three consecutive years of doing this, those sinus infections stopped. I have not had a sinus infection since.

I had a very similar problem...a couple of years after moving into my house I began to "wheeze" a lot, cough and had repeated irritations....I had the ducts cleaned out by a professional. There was a black mold and TONS of dirt up inside the ducts, way beyond reach of any grates.....apparently the ducts had *never* been cleaned since the house had been built 22 years earlier.....one of the worst cases he had seen, he said. I had to get them cleaned a second time a year and a half later, but my coughing/irritation problems stopped not long after the initial clean-out. I told myself the next house will be one that does not have any duct-work in it.....I think they are high-maintenance and unsanitary.

I started coming down with monthly sinus infections. Out of desperation, I had my adult son assist me in cleaning the duct work by removing all the vents and cleaning with boiling water with Pine Sol. Those sinus infections stopped. I did this for about three years straight. I have not had a sinus infection since.

perfect timing for me,too. Thanks. When I mentioned dcut cleaning to my assoc HVAC man, he said to recheck my furnace filter, also the screen type that is washed not replaced, lets a lot of dust particles through vs. the pleated $1.79 type that catches dust and is easily replaceable. Total Cost $1.79 materials- advice $0. These comments have reinforced his opinion.

National Air Duct Cleaners Association I have used two vendors over the years. The first didn't know what they were doing, didn't have the right equipment and did a lousy job, The second was the exact opposite. The clue for me was that they cleaned the ductwork in several hospitals.

I also used an air duct cleaner from one of Angie's List's big deals. The workers also sold me and my wife on a mold treatment for extra bucks and didn't do a very good job cleaning the ducts. Also, I found out later and at considerable expense to repair that the workers had destroyed some ductwork in a crawlspace. I really wish Angie's List would do due diligence on companies it recommends for its big deals. I won't use any company offering a big deal any longer as a result.

I had just arranged for a duct cleaning by a company not mentioned here. They told me it'd cost $111.60 and would take "about an hour". So, with the info given here I think it best to cancel the appointment. Your article was helpful to me


A friend who works for a heating/ac company told me you can vacuum most of the dirt/dust from your ducts right at the vent if you have those in the floor. That's were the majority of the dirt settles from your house. It's not the furnace/ac that puts it there. The only time he recommends having professionals do this is if you have a very old house that may have had a coal/oil furnace a t one time or you have had extensive indoor remodling.

very helpful and informative, was just going to call a duct cleaner and am thinking I won't. appreciate info.

David, thanks for the head's up. I have a service from All States Air Duct Pro that I have not scheduled an appointment for yet. Wanted to see some comments like what you posted. I wonder id I can get my money back...

would liked to have a synopsis of the standards as recommended by the EPA.

Well this is ironic. The "top-rated" company (All States Air Duct Pro) Angies list recommended in their Big Deals sent up all three of these red flags as soon as they arrived at my home. It didn't take several hours, they insisted on applying biocides to the duct work - which the EPA is very much on the fence about, and they definitely engaged in scare tactics and pressure to get me to sign up for what a mounted to a 5 year service contract. A pretty poor 1st experience, I must say for a highly rated Angies List- endorsed company. The guy didn't even seem very familiar with the types of biocides he would be applying - but he could assure me they were perfectly safe. That was particularly galling. He informed me that it was basically useless to perform the services outlined in the Angie's List coupon without the add-ons and service contract. I was very disappointed in All States Duct cleaning and Angie's list. I'll be much more wary about the Big Deals in the future.

Duct cleaning is on my to-do list. Your remarks are helpful and timely.

Could you post pictures of furnace/AC filters that do and do not need replacement? Thanks

This article would be more helpful if it gave us a clue what the NADCA standards included or a link to those standards. Yes, we can find them, but if you REALLY want to be helpful, help us here. Good advice overall.

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