Have you read stories linking poor air quality to health issues? If so, you may wonder if you should hire an HVAC cleaning company to clean your air ducts. There are lots of companies offering duct cleaning bargains. But how do you choose a reputable HVAC cleaning company over one that makes promises they will not keep?
Avoid getting ripped off by following these guidelines.
6 steps to choose an HVAC cleaning company for duct cleaning
- Check references.
- Make sure the company is NADCA-certified. This certification means they have Air Systems Cleaning Specialists on staff. They clean according to the NADCA standards and participate in continuing education.
- Check for licensing and insurance.
- Get written estimates from at least three HVAC cleaning companies.
- Make sure the HVAC cleaning company offers a free inspection to determine if your ducts need cleaning. Most reputable HVAC service providers do free inspections.
- Don’t fall for the full house $99 duct cleaning special. Remember a deal that seems too good to be true usually is. The HVAC cleaning company will not do a complete job for a bargain basement price and will likely upsell you once they have a foot in the door.
Learn more: How much does duct cleaning cost?
Do you really need your air ducts cleaned?
Don’t automatically assume you need duct cleaning.
If you have relatively new ducts, chances are duct cleaning is unnecessary. If your HVAC cleaning company regularly replaces filters and cleans your HVAC equipment, then you might not need duct cleaning.
An honest vendor will inspect your ducts to make sure you need the service before giving you a price.
What NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaner’s Association) says about duct cleaning
NADCA sets standards for professional duct cleaning. They recommend cleaning residential air ducts every 3 to 5 years. If you live in a warm climate where you use the HVAC system most of the year, NADCA advises cleaning every 2 to 3 years. Of course, your situation could mean you need cleaning more often:
- Manufacturing or construction sites
- Spaces that had a fire or a flood
- Homes with excessively-shedding pets
- Spaces with allergy/asthma sufferers or smokers
What the EPA says about duct cleaning
The EPA hasn’t advocated for duct cleaning on a widespread basis. But it has recommended that you consider duct cleaning in the following instances:
- There is substantial visible mold growth on surfaces such as ducts or other components of your HVAC system.
- Rodents or insects have infested ducts.
- Ducts are clogged with excessive dust, allergens, and debris and release these particles into your home from your supply registers.
What to look for when the HVAC cleaning company is on-the-job
- Ask what tools and cleaners the HVAC cleaning company will use on your ducts. Companies commonly use vacuums and brushes.
- NADCA and EPA do not endorse the use of sealants and chemical biocides. The EPA advises against using sealants except when there are no other alternatives available. Similarly, the EPA recommends not applying biocides unless needed to control mold growth.
- If you have flex-ducts, make sure the HVAC cleaning company does not use brushes to scrape the ducts. Many homes and businesses have flex-ducts made from a plastic material, which easily tears.
- It’s critical that the HVAC cleaning company use a fully-functional vacuum collection system or they may leave more dust and dirt in your ducts than you started with before their visit.
- Avoid duct steam-cleaning. It will introduce moisture into your system, which will recirculate into the air and eventually promote mold growth.
- Make sure the HVC cleaning company cleans more than the ducts. The HVAC provider should clean the grilles, registers and various HVAC system components such as HVAC coils, motors, and fans.
A word about mold
If you have mold contaminating your ducts, removal is critical. The trouble is – sometimes dishonest companies will make black mold claims and charge an exorbitant rate to remove it.
If the cleaning company find mold during the initial inspection, ask to see the mold inside your ducts. It is smart to get a second opinion from a qualified testing agency. If your insulation is moldy, you must have it removed and replaced. There is no effective way to clean mold from insulation.
IMPORTANT: Make sure your vendor finds and fixes the source of the moisture! Mold will reappear if an underlying HVAC moisture leak goes unfixed
Are you getting what you pay for?
If possible, inspect your ducts with a flashlight before and after your HVAC cleaning company cleans your ducts.
Arista Air, which is NADCA-certified, goes a step further to give you evidence about the results of your service. Arista outfits its technicians with wearable video technology that records the pertinent parts of your service call. Afterward, Arista sends you a link to the video. This evidence gives you peace of mind that the services you pay for matches the services performed.