Dust is all around us. It is a part of nature. Some dust is from dirt outside, and some dust is generated by our own activity in our homes. For proof, try putting on a sweater next to a window where the sunlight is streaming in. Do you see it? In a previous blog entry we started our discussion on air duct cleaning, including the controversies surrounding the topic. In this article the helpful staff at GAMA Air want to help you with some suggestions for choosing a duct cleaning service provider and other important considerations. A future article will cover what to expect from a provider as well as how to determine whether a thorough job was done.
A typical air duct cleaning service will range in cost from $450 to $1,000 per system depending on the extent of the services provided, the size of the system, system accessibility, climate region, and level of contamination.
Choosing a service provider
So you’ve decided that air duct cleaning is right for your home. Now you need to choose the right service provider. Remember to follow all the normal consumer precautions for assessing any service provider’s competence and reliability.
First off you may want to check with friends and relatives for a referral. Or you can check your Yellow Pages under "duct cleaning" or even contact the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Do not assume that all duct cleaning service providers are equally knowledgeable and responsible. Talk to at least three different service providers and get written estimates before deciding service provide to go with. Also, when the service providers come to your home, ask them to show you the contamination that would justify having your ducts cleaned.
Dos and Don’t’s
Don’t hire an air duct cleaner who makes broad claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning — such claims are unsubstantiated.
Don’t hire an air duct cleaner who recommends duct cleaning as a routine part of your heating and cooling system maintenance.
Don’t hire an air duct cleaner who claims to be certified by the EPA. The EPA neither establishes air duct cleaning standards nor certifies, endorses, or approves duct cleaning companies.
Do check all references to be sure other customers were satisfied and did not experience any problems with their heating and cooling system after cleaning.
Do contact your county or city office of consumer affairs or local Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints have been lodged against any of the companies you are considering.
Do interview any potential service provider to ensure:
- they have experience in air duct cleaning and have worked on systems like yours;
- they will use procedures to protect you, your pets and your home from contamination; and
- they comply with NADCA’s air duct cleaning standards and, if your ducts are constructed of fiberglass duct board or insulated internally with fiberglass duct liner, they will comply with the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association's (NAIMA) recommendations.
Do ask the service provider whether they hold any relevant state licenses. Starting about 10 years ago, a handful of states began requiring air duct cleaning service providers to hold special licenses, and the list is growing.
Do request a written agreement outlining the total cost and scope of the job before work begins. If the service provider charges by the hour, request an estimate of the number of hours or days the job will take, and find out whether there will be interruptions in the work.
Choosing a reliable service provider cannot be overemphasized. If a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can actually cause indoor air problems that may not have existed before. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.
Whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, preventing water and dirt from entering the system is the most effective way to prevent contamination. Stay tuned for a future article on how to prevent contamination of your air ducts.
Other Important Considerations
Remember that air duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. And the studies done do not conclusively show that particle or dust levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. There is still much investigation that needs to be done in this area. For now, it remains a rather controversial topic. The evidence that currently exists demonstrates that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts does not pose any risk to health.
There is some research to suggest that cleaning dirty cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers can improve the efficiency of the system. However, little evidence exists to indicate that simply cleaning the air duct system will increase a system's efficiency.
If you think duct cleaning might be a good idea for your home, but you are not sure, talk to a professional. We’d be happy to provide some advice. Please give us a call at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a check-up on your system.
Do you have other questions that you’re eager to get a response on? You’re at the right place! Fill out the form on our “Ask an Expert” page, and the resident expert at GAMA Air will get back to you quickly with an answer.