Duct cleaning is an industry with a lot of misconceptions. On top of that, much of the public doesn’t know a ton about it. So if you think you may need your ductwork cleaned or you have questions about the process – where are you supposed to turn?
It can be frustrating finding answers, so we’re here to help. Hi Tech Duct Cleaning has long been acknowledged as one of the leading duct cleaners in the United States by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA), setting the standard for quality and technique. We’ve been featured on Dateline NBC and are also featured regularly on Gary Sullivan’s nationally-syndicated radio show “At Home with Gary Sullivan”.
Whether you’re from Cincinnati or from anywhere else in the U.S., here are all the answers to your most important duct cleaning questions:
Q: How often should I have my home’s air ducts cleaned?
A: Most homes should have their ductwork cleaned every 3-5 years. However, no 2 homes are alike. If you live near new construction (read: lots of dust), have lots of people in and out of your home, regularly burn candles or incense, have lots of kids and/or pets, or have chronic health concerns, then you may need it cleaned more often.
Conversely, if you have no children or pets, don’t live near any construction sites, don’t have chronic health issues, and don’t have tons of traffic through your home, you may be able to have it cleaned every 5-8 years without a problem.
Q: What equipment do you use? Why is that better than something else?
A: We use a HEPA vacuum system that has 3,000 cfm suction with a 3-stage filtration system. We pair that vacuum up with a system of whips which hook up to a 185-psi air compressor, designed to dislodge debris and contaminants from inside your ductwork and push them to our powerful vacuum. We follow all of that up by sanitizing your vents and ductwork with a fogging machine that distributes an anti-microbial spray throughout the system, killing bacteria, mold, and other harmful substances.
Some other companies use common shop vacs attached to rotary brushes or truck-mounted vacuums as their primary vacuum system. While these systems may work fine to break up debris and dust in the ductwork, they typically don’t have enough suction power to remove it. The truck-mounted systems often claim to have similar suction power to the HEPA vacuums, but because the truck is parked out on the street and a hose is run to the furnace, it often loses most of its suction power along the way.
And these companies may or may not follow up their work with a sanitizing spray like we do. Many don’t, so you definitely need to ask!
Q: What if I have allergies or other health concerns? What can you do to make sure that my home is as healthy as possible?
A: We sympathize with those who suffer from allergies and other chronic health problems and we work with families like these every day. The biggest thing any duct cleaner can do to ensure you stay healthy and comfortable after duct cleaning is to do a very thorough job in physically removing debris and then using an anti-microbial spray to sanitize the vents, ductwork, and any items which cannot be removed from the ductwork. Follow this up by regularly cleaning your home so that excessive dust and contaminants don’t recirculate through your ducts.
Q: Can you only clean a few vents instead of the whole system?
A: We can, but it’s a bad idea. Here’s the thing you need to know: your ductwork is all interconnected. There are no separate, independently-contained sections in your system. This means that if dust and contaminants are present in one part of your system, then they will affect the entire system. If you have only a portion of your ductwork cleaned, you may as well not have bothered since the portions you cleaned will quickly become re-contaminated.
Q: I think my home might have mold in it. Should I get my ductwork cleaned?
A: First thing’s first: ALL homes have mold. Having said that, there are safe levels of mold and unsafe levels of mold as well as different types of mold, some of which are much more harmful than others. If you suspect you may have a mold problem, you should first contact a home restoration company and have them test for mold. If they determine that you have a problem they can perform mold remediation services. After mold remediation you should have your ductwork cleaned to ensure there is no mold being circulated through your home by the air ducts.
Without mold remediation services, duct cleaning will only be partially effective.
Q: How will I know if a company did a good job cleaning my ductwork?
A: There are a few ways you can check on this:
- Make sure they are using quality equipment and chemicals (as outlined above)
- Ask the company to take before and after photos of your ductwork
- Ask to see what they got out of your system – we will often show homeowners the contents of the vacuum after a cleaning
- The next time your heating and air company comes out after your ductwork is cleaned, ask them to take a look and verify that things were done correctly
Q: How can some duct cleaning companies charge hundreds or thousands of dollars while others say they’ll clean your whole home for $99? What is a reasonable price?
A: In our industry we call the companies that advertise $99 for the whole house “blow and go” companies. They come in, blow some air through your ducts with sub-par equipment, spend only about an hour in your home, and then tack on a bunch of hidden costs after the fact, routinely bringing their bills up into the thousands of dollars for even the smallest homes. About 99% of the time, your duct work is not clean after these guys finish and you spent a lot more than anticipated, too.
In the Cincinnati area (where we are located), there have been several of these companies over the years scamming homeowners. Some of them have even changed their name after local homeowners started catching on to their dirty tactics, allowing them to continue ripping people off.
Legitimate duct cleaners typically start their services at a few hundred dollars for small homes and apartments and can go into the thousands for larger homes or commercial buildings. Remember that old saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, it is”? Well, it definitely applies here folks, because $99 is too good to be true.
Consider this: for $99 there is no way a business could pay a crew of 1-2 people, plus gas, and supplies to come and clean your home. That business would go bankrupt in a few months. The only way they can make that work is to tack on a multitude of hidden costs once they get in the door and/or to do many jobs each day (a good duct cleaning will take between 3-5 hours on the average home, meaning they can usually only fit in 2 cleanings per crew per day).
Q: How can I find a reputable duct cleaner and avoid getting scammed?
A: There are a few ways you can do this:
- Ask your heating and air company for a referral
- Check the NADCA website to find a certified professional near you
- Ask them what type of equipment they use and how long a cleaning will take (refer to the equipment we discussed above and remember that an average home will take 3-5 hours to clean thoroughly)
- Stay away from companies that advertise prices that sound too good to be true
We hope this helps. Stay warm this winter and if you’re considering having your ductwork cleaned, make sure you don’t get scammed!