How To Avoid Air Duct Cleaning Scams
BEWARE of air duct cleaning scams! Over the years, hundreds of homeowners have issued complaints with the Better Business Bureau, all of which ended up being very similar to one another. Once inside the customer’s home, the technicians would mislead them into paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in additional work. Many were told that they had dangerous mold. Others had their homes unnecessarily flooded with noxious chemicals. Many even reported of being afraid of the workmen. All were scammed into paying hundreds more then the advertised price of $49.95.
Unfortunately, these scammers make business difficult for the good faith companies. So it’s important to know that not all air duct cleaning companies are a scam. Here are 8 tips to help you avoid an air duct cleaning scam.
1. Commonly known as the “Bait & Switch”
Air duct cleaning companies advertising the whole home air duct cleaning for $50, then upon arriving to the home increase the cost 5 – 10 times as much. most reputable companies will charge anywhere between $400 – $1000 for the average size house.
You may have seen ads in newspapers, in your mailbox, online listings such as Craigslist etc. Having scary pictures and warnings of germs, dust mites and other health issues lurking in your air ducts and saying things like, “fear not as you can get them cleaned for the low price or $49.99”. Once the technician is in the home they tell the homeowner that the ducts are in much worse shape with dangerous mold and other problems and tricking the home owner into paying hundreds of dollars more, then leaving the home sometimes with the air ducts in much worse shape than they were in originally.
2. Showing up to the Job Under Staffed
If only 1 technician shows up at your home to do the entire job by himself. This can be a warning sign that this is a scam. The possibility is higher that he is unable to do a proper cleaning of the whole air duct system and may only do a partial cleaning if any at all. Most real companies will have a crew of 2 – 3 technicians show up on every job.
3. Length of Job
If you are told that your entire homes air duct system can be cleaned in approximately 1 hour. Just about every single reputable air duct cleaning company will tell you that the average small home will take approximately 3 – 5 hours and sometimes longer.
4. A Written Quote
Companies that do not give the customer a written quote with the agreed upon price before the work begins. If reputable air duct cleaning company gives you a estimate on the phone they will do a full inspection of the homes air duct system first thing on arrival to make sure that the estimate was accurate based on the information that you provided during the phone call. If all the information you provided was accurate then they will hand over the written quote with all the information of services being provided, number of vents, HVAC units to be cleaned and for the agreed price prior to the work beginning. Most companies are pretty accurate in their estimates but the things that will usually change the price from the original estimate are the number of vents and HVAC units. If there are more or less then what was quoted for will affect the price and if there are any additional services requested from the homeowner at the time of the inspection, i.e. dryer duct cleaning, etc…
5. Overcharging for Simple Services
Companies that charge hundreds of dollar to sanitize your air ducts. Most honest air duct cleaning companies shouldn’t charge more then $50 and that’s if they even charge for an air duct sanitation service.
6. Wrong Equipment for the Job
Most common is a technician showing up with a insufficient vacuum. Someone only bringing a common shop vac to clean your entire air duct system is a pretty straight forward scam. If a technician only shows up at your home with a shop vac to clean your ducts, refuse the job. Shop vacs don’t even nearly provide enough suction to lift all the dirt and debris out of the entire length of your duct work. It also does not have the proper tips to properly agitate all the air ducts to remove stuck dirt and debris. This is the type of work done by companies that use the above advertisements.
7. Providing No Proof to Mold Claims
Watch out for technicians warning you that you have mold or repairs needed without showing proof of what they are telling you. They will then try and increase the cost of the job and usually not even fix the problem before leaving. Leaving your air ducts in the same if not worse condition then when they arrived. Don’t just take their word for it. See it for yourself or get a second opinion. Most reputable companies will always have cameras on hand in order to take pictures and videos of your air duct system in order to show you evidence of what they are talking about.
8. Unmarked Technicians
Watch out for unmarked vehicles and technicians. Most companies will have logos proudly displayed on both the vehicle and their technicians uniforms. Vehicles usually will have window stickers, side magnets etc… with the company info on it. Uniforms usually have a patchwork of some sort or some other type of printing indicating which company they are with. While unmarked technicians doesn’t always mean scam, it’s just a helpful tip that could possible lead to a scam.