What to Look For in an Air Duct Cleaner
Air duct cleaning is a comparatively new industry that has exploded as a $4 Billion a year industry in the United States alone, in the 21st century. Some people have embraced air duct cleaning as a advantageous service, while others have criticized the service and view the service as a waste of time and money. More than likely though, people who have their varying view points for and against the service are both correct on this issue in one way or another and in this article I will address why I think that both sides raise interesting and very good points that you as a consumer should consider. In this article I will address different air duct cleaning methods and explain what those methods are, I will explain credentials so that you can better understand who the organizations are and who they represent and last I will address the shared scams that are out there so that you as a consumer can avoid being caught up into such scams to increase the possibilities of receiving a good service performed correctly, should you ever schedule an air duct cleaning service in the future with a local service provider.
The two most shared air duct cleaning methods are the “contact cleaning” method and the “strength vacuum air wash” method in air duct cleaning. The contact cleaning method in air duct cleaning involves the use of shop vac style equipment to keep continued contact between the vacuum hose and duct work surface during the cleaning course of action. Generally speaking the companies that use this form of cleaning charges less money for their sets, because they know that they are limited in what dirt, dust and debris that they can truly pull out of the air ducts and are typically in your home to perform the service for 30 minutes to 1 hour. There is usually no assistance to an air duct cleaning service when this method of cleaning is performed, however it may be advantageous if the actual vent boots were complete of construction debris or dog food or in any case and you did not feel like cleaning the vent boots and preferred to just get a cheap service provider out to do that work for you instead. Now, the strength vacuum air wash method in air duct cleaning involves the use of expensive powerful equipment to allow a technician to thorough clean the complete HVAC system. The vacuum hose is usually 8-12″ in diameter and is installed in the main trunk line to put the complete air duct system under a thorough and powerful vacuum.
No kidding, every vent in the house will have a powerful vacuum pulling hard off of every vent in the house for a perfect negative air containment, which disallows any cross contamination of dirt discharges in your home to occur during the cleaning course of action! The vacuum machines could be 220 volt HEPA rated negative air machines, gas powered or diesel powered machines to generate a powerful enough vacuum to perform the service properly. Compressed air tools are used to air wash all of the dirt, dust and debris to the strength vacuum hose installed in the main duct, trunk line. When the strength vacuum air wash form of air duct cleaning is performed correctly the service usually takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to perform the service in an average sized home. Reputable companies will clean all supply boots, adjoining supply branch lines, supply trunk line(s), supply plenum, return boots, return channels, return trunk line(s) and return plenum, virtually 100% of the complete HVAC system.
It is vital that the complete air duct system is cleaned, because if any debris and or contamination is left in the system, then that missed debris and or contamination will just recirculate again to recontaminate the air duct system as if nothing was already done, once the furnace is turned on again after the air duct cleaning is complete. A typical forced air ventilation is a circulatory system of continued air in and air out when a furnace is in operation. Companies that are licensed for HVAC will also thoroughly clean the furnace and evaporator wire (indoor wire that is often above the furnace).
The benefits can be tremendous with this method of cleaning, such as increased air flow, increased HVAC system efficiency, reduced dust in the home, reduction in unpleasant odors deriving from the air ducts and increased life expectancy of working HVAC parts such as surface igniters, blower motors, limit switches and capacitors that dirt, dust and debris destroys over time. A reputable company that pays their technicians well, maintains their tools & machinery and possesses all of the proper credentials such as ACCA membership position, EPA certified technicians to manager refrigeration and carries proper insurance(s) will charge anywhere from $425.00-$1000.00 per HVAC system for about half a days work to properly clean each HVAC system.
The price swing is also factored by different cost of living standards depending on where you live in the country and varying overhead costs that each company carries. Some one in Manhattan New York would probably be near the $1000.00 price per HVAC system cleaned, while someone in Austin Texas would be near the $425.00 per HVAC system cleaned. The cost of living is much higher in Manhattan New York than in Austin Texas, so logically air duct cleaning in Manhattan New York would cost more than in Austin Texas.
Credentials are very important! Beware of companies that have no credentials at all, because an in experienced service provider can cause a lot of expensive damage to your HVAC system, if they don’t know what they are doing and you surely don’t want to be stuck with an expensive repair bill as a consequence. The best credentials that a service provider can have is the ACCA membership position.
The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) HVAC system cleaning standards is the only air duct cleaning standard accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI is a reputable international organization that creates stiff tough standards to enhance products and sets for the better good of the consumer to ensure that the product or service is safe and effective. If an organization lacks ANSI accreditation, then they without validity to their product or service(s) in the HVAC, Heating, ventilation and air conditioning field.
A chief example of that would be NADCA, which stands for the National Air Duct Cleaning Association. NADCA has raised some good guidelines to follow in an air duct cleaning procedure, however they without knowledge in having much HVAC technical knowledge to deliver the best procedures in cleaning your furnace or evaporator wire, which is at the heart of the complete air duct system. Very often NADCA member companies are not licensed for HVAC, which increases your risk when hiring them to clean and HVAC system. These vital working elements needs to be cleaned in addition, which method in my opinion NADCA will leave you in the dust pertaining to HVAC system cleaning. The safe approach to take is to shop around with ACCA member companies to ensure that your HVAC system is cleaned correctly by a licensed HVAC contractor or company instead of hiring an under trained carpet cleaner or air duct cleaner.
Air duct cleaning is a good service to have performed if it is done properly by an ACCA member company, however many companies have exploited the good service that many homeowners and building owners desire by delivering bait and switch tactics or blow and go air duct cleaning procedures that leaves the system polluted after the service has been performed. 9 times out of 10 you should discredit ads that state air duct cleanings start at $59.00-$199.00 for up to 10 vent lines cleaned. Only two results will origin from these forms of advertising such as Company “A” arrived for $79.00 and in fact cleaned 10 vent lines with a shop vac kind machine and left within 1 hour leaving your system polluted or Company “B” arrived to clean 10 vent lines for $69.00 and their technician explained that the returns are very dirty too and they can be cleaned for $25.00 each.
Now your ticket has turned to $144.00 with 3 return lines cleaned. While the technician is nevertheless cleaning he realizes that your trunk lines are dirty too and up sells you on that to clean a supply trunk line for $100.00 and to clean a return trunk line for another $100.00, which now turns the ticket into $344.00. You’re done with receiving the up selling, right? No, think again, because the technician explained to you that he had to cut out accesses into the ductwork to clean it right, he of rough now has to sell you clean out doors to install so that all of your air doesn’t escape out of the system, so he quotes you at $75.00 for each clean out door installed to make the ticket $494.00 from an additional $150.00 for two doors sold.
If the job was performed correctly that would be fine, however the guy is in your house with a shop vac kind machine, which method he received $494.00 from you to leave your HVAC system polluted. After he leaves once the air duct cleaning service has been performed, you realize that dust is blowing out of all of the vents when the furnace cycles, because he disturbed a lot of dust during the air duct cleaning, because shop vac style machinery are in effective in performing a thorough air duct cleaning service. You could have called a reputable company that is an ACCA member company employing the most powerful equipment in the industry to give you an “up front” price quote right in the same ball park for price as the bait and switch company ultimately got out of you, to get the job done thoroughly and correctly. If it is too good to be true, that is because it is. Buyer beware, these bait and switch tactics have been going on for years and usually the companies that follow these price structures are the very companies leaving the majority of dirt, dust and debris in your ventilation system that they were paid good money by the customer to clean out.
When shopping around for a service provider that offers air duct cleaning as a service, make sure that they are an ACCA member company, which tells you that they are licensed for HVAC and check their record at the BBB. If they have a few complaints that is fine, so long as all of the complaints have been resolved. You know there is a huge difference with 5 complaints all quickly resolved and 112 complaints unresolved. These contractors and companies deal with the general public, which method they deal with all different walks of life of different personalities and characters on a daily basis. It is almost impossible if a company has done enough quantity of work to keep a perfect record with the BBB. Usually the companies that are small and have not done too many jobs are the only companies that have the perfect score with the BBB. No less, the BBB is nevertheless a good reference though, to safe guard yourself from blatant scamming companies and it would be wise to reference companies there if you are unsure of the companies over all reputation.
The conclusion of this article is if a company is licensed for HVAC, uses the most powerful air duct cleaning machinery in the industry, performs air duct cleanings by the strength vacuum air wash method and has a good reputation with the BBB and other reporting institutions, then air duct cleaning will more than likely be performed thoroughly and properly in most instances, so that you can realize positive results such as increased air flow coming out of vents, odor reductions deriving from the vents, increased HVAC system efficiency and increased furnace and air conditioning part life.
Author: Mike Meincke Managing Member of Lucky Duct, LLC. Lucky Duct, LLC is a complete service licensed heating and air conditioning company that operates in Denver Colorado. Visit www.luckyduct.net to find more great information and facts on air duct cleaning. go into the “Air Duct” page to find air duct cleaning related content.