THE HIRING PROCESS FOR DUCT CLEANERS
Indoor air pollution is a growing health and energy concern. To prevent poor air quality and save energy costs, duct cleaning is becoming increasingly popular for both old and new homes. Getting your home’s ducts cleaned can be one of the easier cleaning tasks, as long as you know what to look for and what to expect.
Breaking it down
Duct cleaning purifies the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system components including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils, drip pans and fan motors.
If not properly maintained, components can become contaminated with dust, pollen and other debris. Unwanted moisture in ducts increases the risk of mold spores being released in a home, and anyone with mold allergies or health problems, such as asthma, can be seriously affected. No matter how clean a house is, contaminated ducts can subject your family to high degrees of dust and debris and possibly increased heating and cooling costs due to decreased efficiency.
Do you need a duct cleaner?
Most people have their ducts cleaned for health reasons. A good rule of thumb is to have ducts cleaned every three years, depending on your situation.
If a home has had a renovation or an addition recently, the odds of debris buildup are greater and the home may benefit from a duct cleaning. New homes also have more debris than expected because of construction and finishing work after ducts are installed. On a brand new 1500 square foot home, there is an average of 17 pounds of dust.
Although some system parts aren’t visible to the eye, homeowners can visually inspect their ducts for large deposits of dust or mold and get a general idea of when a cleaning might be needed.
Air duct cleaning is a growing business, and choosing a qualified, experienced professional requires some investigation. The National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) is a good source to find a reputable duct cleaning service provider. There are many other organizations that can provide valuable information about air quality in your home, such as the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), and American Lung Association.
Make sure the cleaners being considered are association members as experience and background are important. Improperly serviced ducts can cause air problems.
Find out if the company has worked on a system like the one in your home, and what sort of safety precautions they will take to protect your family and pets from home contamination.
The system should be inspected first for any asbestos containing materials; registers should be sealed, and carpet and furnishings protected. Certification should always be checked as well. Make sure the duct cleaner is licensed by the state as a home improvement contractor.
The EPA suggests asking to see all cleaned ducts and components. These should have no visible dust or debris to ensure the job is done thoroughly.
Time and equipment can vary depending on the provider and amount of work to be done. Always have the cleaner provide a written agreement on cost. NADCA endorses two main types of vacuums: industrial vacuum trucks, and portable units.
Industrial vacuum trucks are more powerful than portable equipment. A portable system is capable of moving approximately 2,000 to 5,000 cfms (cubic feet of air per minute). An industrial vacuum truck moves 16,000 cfms. However vacuuming alone will not clean an HVAC system completely. Make sure the service does more than simply vacuum the ducts of your home. To get your duct system thoroughly clean, NADCA procedure requires that the insides of the system be cleaned with an agitator, such as a Viper whip system. This will remove any debris buildup on the walls that would otherwise remain and not be removed by vacuuming alone.
NADCA warns of what they call “blow and go” companies. These companies offer a proliferation of services, some unrelated to duct cleaning such as carpet and upholstery cleaning. They offer promotional deals and specials that seem too good to be true, but remember buyer beware: many times the prices in the advertising or are quoted on the phone come with many hidden charges. Be sure that the price you are quoted is the final price you will pay when the job is performed. NADCA warns not to sacrifice quality for price, which ranges anywhere from $450 to $1,000 per system.
Following these guidelines will ensure you’re dealing with the most qualified company and getting the service you pay for.