Because residential air duct cleaning only needs to happen once every 3 to 5 years, not many homeowners feel as comfortable hiring a professional as they would for more common issues such as leaky pipes or loose shingles. The cleaning process happens infrequently, so many homeowners are starting from square one when they look for a professional cleaning company.
It is always intimidating striking up a new relationship with a contractor. As with any industry, there are scammers and unscrupulous people in the air duct cleaning business. Homeowners who are looking to have cleaning services performed should be aware of these 4 red flags…
Extremely Low Price Offers
Some companies distribute coupons with offers promising a “whole house special” for $49, $59, $69 and so on. Someone who has never hired professional air duct cleaners before has no point of reference for what the services should cost. Therefore, a coupon advertising a very affordable price will seem extremely attractive.
Beware this tactic. These low-price offers are usually just a means of the contractor getting their foot in the door. From this point, they will begin adding on charges such as a “per vent” fee, or extra fees to inspect and clean the HVAC unit itself (which should be included). These fees can add up extremely quickly, leaving that $49 price tag miles back.
The Real Deal: Depending on the size of your home, you can expect HVAC cleaning services to cost somewhere between $400 and $1000. Factors that influence pricing are the size of your home, the age of your system, and the accessibility of your vents. Reputable companies will be able to account for every dollar they are charging by presenting you with an itemized proposal.
Excessive Fine Print
Piggybacking on to the low-price scam is the excessive fine print scam. Any company will have certain disclaimers or restrictions, but they should be presented to you upfront, and in plain English. A company that lists out dozens of situations that would add cost fully intends to charge you more than they said they would. If you do not completely understand the service contract, don’t sign it.
The Real Deal: If there are equipment fees, travel fees, taxes, or any other extra expenses, they should be spelled out in your initial proposal. Any questions you ask should be answered in a forthright manner. A company that stands behind their work will not attempt to dodge you.
If a contractor is unable to present you with proof of certification, that is a red flag. Beware of contractors in unmarked vehicles, or door to door sales people who claim they are working on your neighbors’ houses. These people may not be certified contractors.
The Real Deal: Air duct cleaners should be certified through the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). They should also be fully licensed and insured, and able to provide you with proof whenever you ask.
High Pressure Sales Pitches to Fix Problems Immediately
Sometimes, during a routine air duct cleaning, a major problem is discovered. This could be something like mold growth, or even rodents nesting in your air ducts. These are very serious situations, but do not allow yourself to be pressured into paying immediately to resolve them.
The Real Deal: A reputable contractor will completely understand your desire to get a second opinion, and may in fact encourage you to do so. They should also present you with a detailed plan of how they will go about removing the problem, and a price breakdown as well.
The bottom line is this: if you don’t get a good feeling from a company, move on. Don’t feel pressured to work with anyone but the best. You have the right to expect professionalism and responsibility from your air duct cleaners.