COVID-19 has been a bit of a double-edged sword for the duct cleaning world. On one hand, it has driven many of the illegitimate companies that routinely scam people out of the market, which is great. But it has also meant that many homeowners are (understandably) budget-conscious and looking for good deals right now as many have taken a financial hit themselves.
This means that the scammy duct cleaners who remain in business are desperate to book you and they are currently smelling an opportunity to prey on your desire to find a deal. You’ll probably start to see ads come out in the Reach magazines and similar circulars you find in your mail, advertising low-cost services and too-good-to-be-true deliverables from duct cleaners hungry to schedule you. Don’t fall for it.
Now, OF COURSE you should always look for the most cost-effective way to get home repairs, maintenance, and needed services completed. That’s just good common sense, right? But so is making sure that the money you DO eventually shell out doesn’t go to pay a company who will ultimately do a bad job and leave you paying even more to hire someone to do it right.
So how do you tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys? Below are some common signs that you may be dealing with a subpar company looking to scam you out of your hard-earned money:
1. They are offering to do it for the low, low price of $89 (or some similarly laughable price)
In our industry, we call these “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 ductwork is not clean after these guys finish and you’ve 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 $49 is too good to be true.
Consider this: for $100 or less 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).
For additional information, check out this article from the National Air Duct Cleaner’s Association on avoiding scams.
2. They can’t (or won’t) explain what they do
A telltale sign of many of the scammers is that they are not able to explain exactly what they do once they are in your home (hint: because they aren’t doing much of anything). All homes are a bit different, especially the older ones, but a good company should be able to give you detailed information about what they do and how they do it in a typical home.
3. They use ineffective equipment
As with many things in life, not all equipment is created equal. Many of the scammers use little more than a common Shop-Vac and maybe a brush to attach to the hose. This will not get your ductwork clean, though, as it simply doesn’t have enough vacuum power to do so.
Legitimate duct cleaners invest in industry-standard equipment such as HEPA air duct vacuums (both portable or truck-mounted), brush and whip systems to knock debris loose, and sanitizing, antimicrobial sprayers which kill mold and bacteria.
If you call a company and they are not using the equipment listed above, keep looking. For more information, you can take a look at the National Air Duct Cleaning Association’s guidelines on proper cleaning methods and equipment.
4. They aren’t members of NADCA.
NADCA is the National Air Duct Cleaner’s Association and can help you to find a reputable company in your area. Click here to go to their website and then click the link in the upper right-hand corner to ‘Find a Professional’ in their directory.
Hi Tech Duct Cleaning is dedicated to cleaning ductwork the right way, every time. If you are in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky/Eastern Indiana region give us a call at (513)737-3200 to schedule an appointment.