How To: Avoid Duct Cleaning Scams

Four precautionary measures that will keep you safe from sketchy contractors

Thursday, Jan 23, 2014  |  Updated 2:00 PM EDT
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How To: Avoid Duct Cleaning Scams

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Residential HVAC Duct Cleaning with a Power Brush

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This article is sponsored by Michael & Son, the leading full-service plumbing, electrical, HVAC and remodeling company serving the Washington D.C. area for over 30 years. Learn more about Michael & Son at MichaelandSon.com.

One of the best ways to keep the air in your home clean and your family members healthy is by having your ductwork regularly cleaned. Air from your HVAC system gets pushed out and circulated through a network of ducts. Over time, dust, dirt, pet dander and other debris can get caught in the ductwork, leading to odor, mold and bacteria that collects and later spreads throughout your house. In addition to the nuisance of a foul odor, poorly maintained ductwork can negatively affect your family's health, often leading to colds, allergies and even asthma.

Unfortunately, sketchy service companies are well aware of the importance of clean duct work, too, and they're more than happy to take advantage of their clients. We've all seen the ads in our mailbox offering duct cleanings at exceptionally low rates. However, this often leads to sub par work or a bait and switch scam in which the service company charges the client much more than the fee they originally advertised. Don't believe us? Just watch Dateline's Chris Hanson busting some of the country's worst offenders shamelessly scamming trusting customers.

However, there are a few key things you can do to make sure that the technician you've hired isn't trying to sell you on a bum deal. Let's take a closer look at them below.

  • Inspect the equipment: Before a contractor steps foot in your home, ask to see their equipment. It takes a lot more than a rotary shop vac to clean your ducts (the tell tale sign of a scammer). These vacuums do not have the ability to place the duct under negative pressure, which is a key element in the removal of harmful debris that collects in your duct over time. Michael & Son outfits all technicians with powerful HEPA-Air equipment for Abatement Technologies. Using equipment with such strong output allows for loosened contaminates to be transported out of the duct work and into the vacuum's HEPA filtration system. The result is better air circulation that will help you cut down on energy cost and prolong the life of your system, keeping you and your family comfortable all year round.
  • Beware of the soot line: While soot in your ductwork can accumulate, it takes more than just a peek to determine it's there. Always ask to see the soot and the source rather than just taking the technician's word for it.
  • Seal Your Ducts: Before a contractor begins any work, it's vital that all ducts are sealed. Improperly sealing the ducts before cleaning can lead to debris being blown all over the house -- a common mistake made by subpar contractors.
  • Go online: This might sound simple enough, but always go online to read customer reviews on consumer websites before scheduling an appointment with any contractor.

These four precautionary steps will minimize the chances of you getting scammed by a ductwork contractor. Or you can avoid the entire headache by calling a company that does it right, like Michael & Son.

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