Beware of Duct Cleaning Scams

duct cleaning scamHave you ever wondered why some companies can offer a whole-house duct cleaning service for $59 when others are charging $450 or more? The answer is simple; it’s most likely a scam.

For years, less-than-reputable companies have been advertising in the local paper, coupon magazines and online, luring unsuspecting home owners with their promises of an affordable solution to dust, mold and allergens that build up in your home. In fact, the scams are so prevalent that Dateline took a closer look inside at how these businesses continue to rip off people year after year.

Bait & Switch Technique  

The Better Business Bureau warns consumers about the “Bait and Switch” tactics employed by some air duct cleaning businesses who advertise cheap duct cleaning services. These shady practices, according to the Dateline expose, have cost consumers millions of dollars and continue to pop up around the country. Here’s how it works. You, as the consumer, contact the cheap duct cleaning company. When the technician arrives, he/she will inevitably find mold or some other “serious” issue with your ducts which is not covered by the offer. So, you’re $59 deal soon inflates to $1500 – not so affordable anymore, is it?

Mold Scam

Another common way these fly-by-night, duct cleaning services hike up their fees is by tricking you into thinking you have a mold problem. Typically, they bring in the mold themselves or show you some “video” they took of your ducts. They may even go as far as telling you that you need to leave your home immediately, for the safety of your family, making you believe it’s imperative to have the duct cleaning completed regardless of the cost. If this happens, it’s a serious red flag, according to News4Jax.com, and you should ask the technician to leave immediately.

Just Scratching the Surface

According to Angie’s List, another issue with cheap duct cleaning offers is the level of service you may receive; even if a company doesn’t try to upsell unnecessary services, they may only be scratching the surface of your home’s air ducts when it comes to the actual cleaning provided. Beware of any company that only cleans the visible areas of your vents and air ducts, as they may be doing more harm than good. Think of it like a feather duster for your home; when you dust your furniture, the dust appears to leave, but quickly resettles in another location. The same can happen with your air ducts, which means you’ll be breathing in anything that was pushed or blown around. A reputable company will clean the entire system and not simply push it out of view.

Tips to Avoid a Duct Cleaning Scam

If you believe your air ducts are in need of a cleaning, there are a few things you can do to avoid being caught in a scam.

  1. Ask for certifications. A reputable company should be certified by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) or follow its guidelines, as well as hold relevant state licenses (required in Florida) and have insurance coverage.
  2. Read the fine print. Make sure your service includes not only the supply and return air ducts, but also registers, grilles and diffusers, heating and cooling coils, drips pans, motor and fan housing, as well as the air handler unit housing itself. If it doesn’t, you’ll likely be paying more than you anticipated.
  3. Get References. A good place to start is the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and other online review services. Check to see if there are any complaints against the company and don’t be afraid to ask the company for references.
  4. Get a Written Estimate. Before you sign any contract or allow any work to begin, get a written estimate that includes all fees. You should get this from at least two to three different companies to ensure you are not being scammed. Most will provide the inspection and estimate at no cost.
  5. Verify Completed Work. Always ask to visually inspect the work completed. The company should be able to use a camera or other method to verify the ducts have been thoroughly cleaned to the extent promised on the work order.

A legitimate company that provides a full-service, air duct cleaning cannot possibly do it for $49, $79 or even $99; most home owners should expect to pay anywhere from $450+, depending on the size of the home and condition of the ducts. It’s like the old saying goes; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get scammed. Call Cool Connections at 904-908-5252 and schedule a free duct cleaning inspection today!