Angie's List | Air duct cleaning

Although the most important thing a homeowner can do is change the furnace filters and keep the home HVAC system properly maintained, some homeowners also have regular air duct cleaning.

What is air duct cleaning?

The removal of all air-borne dust and debris from the air duct system components of HVAC, forced air systems, gravity heaters and other related systems.

Adam Ketterman says he suffered from a nagging, dry cough after some drywall work created a lot of dust in his home.

He scheduled an air duct cleaning and immediately felt his symptoms improve.

Homeowner Adam Ketterman says, ""I did feel a lot better physically right after the duct cleaning like within two to three days. I noticed it was like flipping a switch so I was kind of excited about that."

 "We did our own drywall work and created a lot of drywall dust and it didn't really occur to me that even though we vacuumed it all up that their might still be some that got sucked into the system," admits Adam.

According to the EPA, there is no scientific evidence that regular duct cleaning improves air quality, but some consumers have reported that having their ducts cleaned has led to reduced allergy symptoms and cleaner air.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated duct cleaners to share the top reasons for air duct cleaning.

1.      Improve air circulation.

2.      Energy savings.

3.      Improve system performance.

4.      Make breathing easier.


How often should I schedule duct cleaning?

Expert recommendations vary on this subject, but most experts agree that you will benefit from duct cleaning every three to five years. A cleaning may be in order if you have smokers in the household, pets with high amounts of hair and dander, notice excessive dust, water contamination or damage, after home renovations or remodeling or prior occupancy to a new home. If you want to know what the inside of your vents look like, open up the vent covers and take a picture.

"When hiring someone to do work you can't actually see firsthand the finished product you want to do you research on the company up front. Make sure you have an experienced reputable contractor that gives you a good estimate and also gives you parameters of how long it's going to take. An air duct cleaning can take several hours. Another great tip: have them show you before and after pictures of your ducts so you can see what happened," recommends Angie Hicks.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a professional air duct cleaner

1. Get written estimates from at least three different companies and check references. Most quality air duct cleaning companies use outdoor vented equipment, so all dust and debris is captured and contained outside the home.

2. Check if your state requires air duct cleaning licensure and if so, have the company provide proof of licensure – as well as proof of insurance – before you hire.

3. Make potential air duct cleaning companies provide a written checklist of exactly what they will do, and ask them to verify each task as they complete it. Qualified air duct cleaners will follow strict standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). NADCA recommends source-removal practices, which generally involves placing the ductwork under negative pressure to draw out dust and pollutants that line the surface of the ducts. Ask the technician to take before and after pictures of your ducts and inspect the job before you pay.

4. Don't hire on price alone. Any deal that sounds too good to be true usually is.  The cost of service averages between $300 and $500, but depends on factors such as where you live, square footage, number of vents, and how dirty your ducts are. Expect the service to take three to four hours to complete. If your home has two furnaces, the service will take longer.

5. Beware of bait-and-switch tactics that advertise an unbelievably low rate and then immediately start tacking on up-charges or using scare tactics.

Angie says, "One of the more common things that we hear about with air duct cleaning comes down to pricing. It's important for consumers to get written in-home estimates because a lot of times air duct cleaning is based on either the square footage of the home or the number of vents. A typical air duct cleaning might cost anywhere from $300-$500. If you find you're being offered a really low price, you're going to want to question it."

Qualified air duct cleaners will follow strict standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA).

Allowing an unqualified contractor to clean your ducts could be worse than not having them cleaned at all. More particles could be broken up and released into your home or your HVAC system could be damaged.




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