Air Duct Cleaning Scams are on the Rise. Don’t be a Victim!
The air duct cleaning industry isn’t immune to scammers who want to take advantage of homeowners. In fact, the industry is plagued with fraudulent service providers eager to cheat unsuspecting homeowners. And with homeowners becoming more aware of indoor air quality, swindlers are on the prowl to an even greater degree, scamming homeowners who are already concerned about the health and safety of their families.
When it comes to air duct cleaning, homeowners should beware of what we like to call ‘blow-and-go’ companies that often hook unsuspecting homeowners with bargain-basement prices, then do an inferior job, only cleaning what the homeowner can see, and leaving dirt and contaminants deep within the system. In fact, these types of contractors can cause more harm than good by agitating rather than removing dust, debris, and pollutants in air ducts. If not removed completely, all those pollutants then circulate throughout the ductwork and make their way into the air that you and your family breathe.
It’s also common for deceitful contractors to up-sell add-on services, persuading homeowners to pay for unneeded services. For instance, they may falsely lead homeowners to believe they have mold or other toxic substances in their HVAC systems, or use scare tactics to convince a homeowner that urgent repairs are necessary.
It’s important to know the signs of a scam, and as a homeowner, you can take steps to make sure you don’t fall prey to dishonest tactics. Here are a few common schemes to avoid:
- Low-ball Prices: Reputable companies may offer promotional pricing or discounts, but it’s best to be cautious of companies that promote rock-bottom prices for services. Beware of coupons with ‘whole house air duct cleaning’ for $100 or less, or ‘HVAC mold and soot removal.’
- Posts on neighborhood groups on social media (especially NextDoor and Facebook): Be extra cautious of these types of scams because they have gotten more and more sophisticated over time, and the posts can truly appear legitimate. The content of these posts is almost identical, and often touts things like a ‘special discount’ for the first few people who comment, or one price for unlimited vents and ducts. If you look closely, you’ll notice that unrelated posts often use the exact same assortment of images and content. The company name is almost never included in the post, and those who show interest are sent private messages through the app. Once homeowners show interest, the most sophisticated scammers will direct message consumers, and eventually gather personal information just before asking for a hefty deposit. Your money then disappears, and your ducts never get cleaned. Or if they are cleaned, it’s sub-par work at best.
- Pressure for a Quick Decision: A respectable company won’t pressure you into making an immediate decision. Qualified contractors know that home improvement services are a serious investment and understand if you need to take a few days to carefully consider your decision.
- Ask for Payment Up Front or Only Accept Cash: While it’s possible a reasonable down payment can be part of the process, an excessive amount — or asking for payment in full — is a huge red flag. A reputable company will ask that the majority of cost for the service is paid at the completion of the job.
- Convince the Homeowner of Unforeseen Problems: Some unforeseen problems do pop up at times, but be cautious if your contractor starts finding reasons to increase prices. Make sure everything is in writing, and if you’re suspicious about price increases, consider getting a second opinion.
- Knock on Your Door: Beware of a contractor that knocks on your door saying he/she was ‘just in the neighborhood.’ An established company will earn business through advertisements or referrals. Going door-to-door to find work is a sure sign of a scammer.
A Few Words About the Cost of Air Duct Cleaning
Just like other home maintenance products and services, cheaper is rarely better when it comes to air duct cleaning. Even the best bargain hunters know there are some instances when you can skimp, but other times when something is worth the investment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), duct cleaning services typically – but not always – range in cost from $450 to $1,000 for each heating and cooling system. Naturally, several factors influence cost, like the type of ductwork in the home, the size of the HVAC system, accessibility to the system, the number of technicians needed to do the job, level of contamination, climate, and other environmental considerations.
Wondering if Air Duct Cleaning is Necessary?
Just like the easy-to-see surfaces in your home that get dirty over time, your home’s HVAC system pulls contaminants and air pollutants like dander, dust, soot, and various allergens right into your air ducts — and then recirculates that air throughout your home an average of five to seven times per day!
Believe it or not, all those unseen particles are created through normal, everyday life; and despite routinely replacing filters, your home’s HVAC system gets dirty with regular everyday use. Since your air ducts are a favorite hiding place for all the dust, dirt, and allergens to linger, those dirty ducts can contribute to larger health issues — especially for those with respiratory conditions, auto-immune disorders, or asthma and allergies. Indoor air pollutants can also lead to irritated eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
By simply removing everyday pollutants thoroughly, air duct cleaning can significantly improve your indoor air quality.
Plus, having your home’s air ducts cleaned helps the system run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean systems typically have a longer lifespan and operate more effectively than dirty systems, also leading to lower utility bills.
Ready? Here’s How to Find the Most Qualified Air Duct Cleaning Companies!
We all want our families to breathe clean, healthy air, right? When you’re ready to tackle those air ducts, the best way to avoid scams is to make sure you choose a qualified contractor to ensure the job is done right – one who is certified for the task. NADCA members have technicians on staff with advanced training and certifications in HVAC system cleaning.
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) makes it really simple for homeowners to find an air duct cleaning professional. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area.
Click Here to Find a Certified Air Duct Cleaning Professional Near You!