Buying a Home in Salt Lake City, UT

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Air Duct Cleaning... Scam or Reality?

Allergy sufferers aren't the only people who like to breathe clean air.

The following news story (Don't know when it aired, sorry) discusses whether or not having your ducts cleaned is a scam or not.

I have always wondered this myself and it is nice to know that there ARE companies out there that CAN actually clean your ducts pretty thoroughly. (Did they say 300 mile per hour winds?)

Here are tips I picked up from the story:

  • If you pay for air duct cleaning and they show up with a Shop Vac, send them home.
  • Read the fine print ("Whole House" doesn't always mean "Whole House")

Has anybody had their ducts cleaned?

Did you feel scammed?


3:38

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Comment balloon 35 commentsBenjamin Clark • March 08 2008 09:24PM

Comments

Hi Benjamin. I see many homes with dust and debris hanging out of their ducts. I think some people don't clean them for YEARS. This dust is so obvious. I like baseboards myself. Good post.-Ray
Posted by Ray Wilson, NYS Licensed Home and Building Inspector (Meticulous Home Inspection Corporation) over 11 years ago
Thanks Ray! Speaking of which... (I'm asking this to everyone) How often do you have your own ducts cleaned? How much does it cost? Is it closer to $88? or $400?
Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago

One should check the air filters, if it's really dirty after 6 months, then get the ducts cleaned out. Thats my rule of thumb...

Posted by Johnny Huang, Insurance and Real Estate Broker over 11 years ago
I got lost on the last part.  What was the charge?  What was the extra charge for? 
Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago
I have never cleaned my ducts. Had to give a client some names/numbers once cause they had severe allergies.  I've heard clients mention it - but don't know their feedback. Haven't heard that it might be scam... but yeah, shop vac , that would be a pretty good clue!
Posted by Kim Wood, Kim Wood ~ The Tech Byte (The Tech Byte) over 11 years ago

I was late meeting a mold mediation specialist one dark and cold Nov. evening.  The specialist and my buyers were waiting by the door for me to open up.  Now according to mold test - the house was not habitable from the "air quality" test (no real visible signs).  Without opening the door the specialist says he found the problem - flashed the light on the air duct just inside the door.  We did find that was where most of the mold was coming from - downstairs they had a dryer with an inside vent "ball"?  Didn't work.  Course they had to have the ducts cleaned and sprayed - definitely more then $100.

Guess there is some advantage to hot water baseboards...

Posted by Judi Glamb, Associate Broker, ABR (Coldwell Banker Hearthside) over 11 years ago
Johnny - I change my filters monthly, so I can't tell exactly how bad things are... (I suppose that's a good thing?)
Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Barbara - The extra charge was for the Main, the Cold Air Returns and some other ducting that was not part of the "Whole House Special" but were "At additional charge"

What a ripoff huh? Of course, because they said it was at additional charge in the ad, they couldn't be nailed for false advertising, even though the "special" was deceiving...

Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago
Judi - Or good old fashioned fireplaces (or those new 99% efficient gas ones...)
Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago
I have heard stories much the same as these ... it truly is, "Buyer Beware."  Anyone that shows up with a glorified shop vac is a bit suspect, I would think...
Posted by Derek Bauer's, www.DoorToDreams.com Door to Dreams Home Selling Team (Real Estate One) over 11 years ago

Benjamin,

Nice Post...good information!!! Thanks,   Fran

Posted by Fran Gaspari, "The Title Man" - Title Insurance - PA & NJ (Patriot Land Transfer, Inc.) over 11 years ago
Derek - Yeah. If it was that easy I would just do it myself!
Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Kim - Would you say that most people without allergies probably never clean their ducts?

Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago
Both of my kids have allergies. Because of what I heard, in the past, I've spent tons of money on air duct cleaning. As I've stated here on AR before, a good friend of mine who's in this line of work, told me not to waste my money anymore. What I was told was to open my windows once a week for a couple of hours with the air on. I do this while I'm cleaning my house. When you do this, the dust is now able to escape. Of course, change your filters on a regular basis. I've not had any problems since and I've saved money!
Posted by Dawn Rodriguez, HomeRun Title - Title Insurance Company (HomeRun Title) over 11 years ago
Dawn - Interesting. I'm not sure the force from the blower is enough to actually dislodge and expel dust from the ducting. But, if that is true, what is the harm in letting the dust stay in the duct? Right?
Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Hey Ben,

I have a friend who does carpet cleaning and air duct cleaning as well as clean-up from disasters such as flood and fire.  Air duct cleaning is NOT a scam if it is done properly.  When done properly, the vendor cuts a hole in the duct work just before it reaches the furnace.  They then seal off all of the intake and supply vents in the house.  In the hole goes a vacuum with a rotor brush on it which runs through the ducts and loosens everything in its path which is then sucked into the truck.  New construction is a great one to have cleaned.  A lot of builders think that duct work is a dustpan and just sweep stuff down.  When we had ours cleaned, they pulled out chunks of drywall. 

They've pulled out things as large as baseballs, silverware, glasses, beer cans, dead squirrel carcasses.  You name it, it's been down there.  The dusting in my house was substantially less after I had this done because I was no longer recirculating construction debris.  When I dust for housework, I do turn on the fan on the furnace to suck the dust in the air back through the system, but this doesn't pull major dust and dirt out of the ducts.  If the person who is purporting to clean your air ducts doesn't use this method, they probably aren't getting it all.  The cost, as I remember it, was $90 for the set up and $10 per vent.  To me it was definitely worth it.  It also isn't something you need to do more than every couple of years unless you have heavy allergies or fuzzy animals (or kids.)  I recommend it highly just because it cuts down on the layers of dust in the house and (in used homes) some of the musty smells that candles just won't cover up.

Posted by Gloria Ruesch, Real Estate Agent - Nebraska- Iowa (NP Dodge Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Gloria - Thanks for the information. Having helped a number of clients purchase new construction, I have seen much of what you have. It is a good idea (and many builders are starting to do this on their own) to have the ducts covered once they are installed so nothing can be put into them during the rest of construction (did somebody say taco bell?). Well, at least until the carpet goes in... Most builders are nailing a piece of wood over the hole. Not a complete seal, but it should keep out the trash... and squirrels.
Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Benjamin, as an air duct cleaner in the Phoenix area, we see it all, especially in new construction; construction debris, insulation, trash, all in the air ducts.  It is a sad reality that many companies do offer these slight of hand specials.  We are a green company, and  do not use any chemical based cleaners to sanitize the air ducts after we clean them.  We know that if you do, you are just taking junk out and putting, albeit in a different form, new junk back in.  With the exception of mold, truly plant based sanitizers should only be used to clean and sanitize air ducts.  The EPA states this as do government and enlightened health officials.  Additionally, ask to see the in-line filter after the job is done, so you can plainly see what has been extracted from the system. Michelle Viggiano Owner of Four Winds Healthy Home Carpet and Air Duct Cleaning. www.healthyhomeaz.com  

Posted by Four Winds Healthy Home, Michelle Viggiano over 11 years ago
Sounds like a rip-off to me. What happens if you have rental property and they want it done. Is it your cost or theirs?
Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic (www.mrbrownsellsgr.com) over 11 years ago

We just had this company Bell Air Duct and Carpet Cleaning from Maryland (1-866-416-3848) clean our ducts and it was a ripoff. I know they got some stuff clean because they left piles of lint everywhere and didn't bother cleaning any of it up. Their "salesman" lied about everything, saying we had mold throughout the ducts. He also said that he didn't clean any vents going to any rooms because "there isn't anything there". They dumped collected dust into our bathtub leaving wet dust all over everything including my child's bathtoys and even charged me at Maryland's tax rates even though my house is in Virginia. I really hope that duct cleaners aren't this bad, because it was really pathetic.

Posted by Tom almost 11 years ago
I'm on line today specifically in regards to this company, Bell Air Duct Cleaning (1 866 416 3838). They also list DC/MD, VA, and NC numbers. Their web page claims they clean "the entire air duct system using a powerful vacuum along with specialized tools....areas will be zoned off to ensure that the entire system is cleaned properly....All dirt and debris is removed....". Three men arrived about 6pm in an unidentified truck, (the appointment was for between 2 and 4). They set an overgrown shop vac outside my front door, to which they attached a standard size vac hose to reach throughout the house. They used about an 18" wand extension with a standard round cleaning brush (I have several of each in my closet) to scrub the duct inside each vent, but obviously no further than the first bend in the floor since the wand was rigid. The worker than removed the wand and installed a larger soft bristle brush to the hose and attempted to push that in the duct (ever try pushing a string?). That's it! They could not have cleaned more than 10% of the system. I have called their office(s) multiple times and left my number, but in a month no one has bothered to call me back. I even located their office in Gaithersburg, Md (an unmarked office door in a hall with several other businesses) and gave the sectretary(?) my number. Today I called the 866 number which is an office in Rockville. The person was very testy and insisted they do clean the entire duct system. She also took my number. The company claims they folow the guidelines of the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA). I called them but they are basically just a membership thing and referred me to the American IAQ Council (800 942 0832) which trains certain members of a company to their standard, so the company can claim the credentials. I also tried to contact the Better Business Bureau but their web page was unable to locate a listing for the company (I'll try again in case I was doing something incorrectly, Bell Air's web site claims membership). Bottom line: Bell Air Duct Cleaning is a SCAM! Also, as soon as the first register was remove, the lead man informed me I had a mildew problem (looked every bit like dust to me, and nothing more) and offered to treat the system for an additional $180. After I bulked at the cost, he "called the boss" and offered it for $80. I still refused it because the ducts were still dirty.
Posted by david kester about 10 years ago
Bellair Duct Cleaning is a SCAM. They showed up w/ a shop vac, told me I had mold, didnt remove my vents. I told them to get the hell out of my house.
Posted by Judy Babbit almost 10 years ago
I just had a similar experience with Bell Air Duct Cleaning. We had a coupon for $72 to clean all our vents, so I wasn't expecting much. Two men showed up in an unmarked truck with a large shop vac. After about three minutes, their salesman showed me a vent that had what he said were mold spores on the back, which he quickly took back upstairs. Strangely, I looked for that vent later and couldn't find it. He said our house had a really big mold problem and that I needed the whole system sanitized for over $600. I said no. He then called his boss from somewhere in the house and the boss offered to take $200 off the price. When I still said no, he offered to sanitize my furnace for $99. Again, I told him that we didn't want any additional services. After that, they quickly finished and left. They didn't clean up after themselves and left dust all over our bathrooms. They also didn't go into all of our rooms. I wouldn't say it was a complete waste of money, because they did suck a lot of stuff out of our vents and cleaned our bathroom vent fans which are running a lot better now.
Posted by Andrea almost 10 years ago
Hi had a terrible experience with Bell Air Duct Cleaning company last September. They didn't know what they were doing (in addition to the rip off scam of taking apart my air conditioning system which they weren't familiar with and I had not asked for), they incorrectly connected wires in the system, started a fire on my wall at the thermostat and broke the whole system. I had to pay $1300 to a reputable company to fix it. I contacted Better Business Bureau in the hopes they could assist with getting a reimbursement from the company who initially said they would reimburse me. I now cannot get them to respond, and discover that they have disconnected their phone and it appears they have changed their name to Bell Services and Bell Cleaning Services. I have written to them one last time and if I don't get satisfaction am going to take them to Court. If anyone else has a good case against them and would like to join a law suit please let me know. Better Business Bureau has taken away their rating from Bell Air Duct Cleaning company, but Bell Services and Bell Cleaning Services appear on BBB, but not yet rated by BBB. I've advised BBB that I believe as Bell Service has the same ad and website as Bell Air Duct Cleaning company they are the same company and trying to get rated again.
Posted by Justine B over 9 years ago

False Advertising of any kind is a hot topic for me right now.  It's incredible and appalling how some agents that are clueless when it comes to Short Sales boast of hundreds of transactions and high closing ratios - neither metric being supported by the MLS.

Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) about 9 years ago
I hate to hear about rip offs in the duct cleaning industry. I have been doing this for 10 years. Some houses are in a big need of having air ducts cleaned and some are not. There are many reliable and qualified companies that do a proper job and get many contaminants out. I have seen some pretty nasty things in vents, pet hair and construction sheet rock and saw dust are the biggest culprits. You should always get a free inspection and estimate from any honarable company. We use brush heads on the ends of pliable hoses that clean down each vent and then we clean the trunk lines as well. The negative air method(placing a high powered vacuum at the furnace and attaching it to the duct work above the furnace and shutting off all vents and intakes, blowing the debris to the vacuum) is the method recommended and the company should use this method. A normal sized house should average about 3 hours to clean. We at Airblueductcleaning.com give free estimates and never upcharge for anything. I hope this helps.
Posted by Air Blue Duct Cleaning about 9 years ago

I think it is a nice reality.... and i think it should be neccessary.......

Posted by air duct cleaning md almost 9 years ago

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems collect mold, fungi, bacteria and a variety of contaminants that reduce the quality of the air residents and visitors breathe............

 

http://affordableairductcleaners.com/

Posted by duct cleaning md almost 9 years ago

Air duct cleaning is a relatively new industry that has exploded as a $4 Billion a year industry in the United States alone, in the 21st century.

 

 

 

http://affordableairductcleaners.com/

 

Posted by maryland air duct cleaning almost 9 years ago

I am about to have this done on the advice of a friend. She had bags of proof after they cleaned out her ducts included the dryer.

Posted by Kristine Stanski almost 9 years ago

Thanks for sending this post..I watch this video it is very easy to do..

Can you please send me charges of this

 

Posted by duct cleaning maryland almost 9 years ago

Bell Air Duct Cleaning aka Bell Services USA aka Bell Cleaning Serivces, LLC is a scam.

 

They are terrible, do not clean up after themselves, use a small shop vac, try to up-sell every service imaginable.  And have a F rating with the BBB.  They are in several markets although headquartered in MD.

 

see the BBB rating of F

www.dc.bbb.org/report.html?national=y&compid=171659106

 

Posted by Freddie almost 9 years ago

Cleaning And Restoration Pros LLC is a licensed, insured and certified company. Service area: Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Services: air duct cleaning, carpet cleaning, chimney sweep, dryer vent cleaning, fire & smoke damage, tile & grout cleaning, rug cleaning, upholstery cleaning, water & flood damage. http://www.cleaningandrestorationpros.com/

Posted by Cleaning over 6 years ago

I think it's awful that people would try to scam others with things like this. I have had asthma my whole life, and when my ducts aren't clean I have a lot of issues with my allergies and my asthma. I would hate to think I was getting a problem resolved and then find out that I was scammed. I hope people are able to get the help they need to ensure that doesn't happen in the future.
http://www.cleanairsolutionsltd.com/en/services.html

Posted by Jackson Willis over 4 years ago

Before hire the service you have to check the service gives you guarantee or making contract for the service or not.
portland duct cleaning service

Posted by James Norman about 3 years ago

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