General Advice about Air Duct Cleaning

Since conditions vary from house to house, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you have air ducts cleaned only on an as-needed basis. Research by the U.S. EPA has demonstrated that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems. Keeping your HVAC system clean may contribute to lower home energy bills.

On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses you think may relate to your home environment, discuss the situation with your doctor. If a visual inspection of the inside of your duct system reveals no indication that they are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold, having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary.

Consider having ducts cleaned if:

Substantial visible mold growth appears inside hard surface ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. Vermin such as insects or rodents infect the duct system. Excessive amounts of dust or debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

The amount of time it takes to clean a residential HVAC system depends on many variables such as the size of the home, the number of systems, the extent of the contamination and the number of HVAC cleaners performing the job. Ask at least two contractors to inspect your system and give you a time estimate for your particular system. This will give you a general idea of how long the job should take as well as an idea of how thoroughly the contractor plans to do the job.

Tips To Consider When Choosing An Air Duct Cleaner:

Watch out for "blow-and-go" air duct cleaning companies. These companies often charge a nominal fee and do a poor job of cleaning the heating and cooling system. These companies may also perform unneeded services without consumers' permission. Get written estimates from at least three different service providers before deciding whether to have your ducts cleaned. 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. Interview potential service providers to ensure that they are experienced and will use procedures to protect you, your pets, and your home from contamination. Be wary of duct cleaners who make sweeping claims about the health benefits of duct cleaning-such claims are largely unsubstantiated. Ask the service provider whether they hold any relevant state licenses, and what type of training or certification they have. Find out how many service technicians will be on the job site. Ask if the company is fully insured, including worker's compensation, if required. Check references to be sure other customers were satisfied and did not experience any problems with their heating and cooling system after the cleaning. Contact the Better Business Bureau for reliability reports on the companies you are considering. Determining if the HVAC System Cleaning Was Effective: The best way to determine if the cleaning was effective is to perform a visual inspection of the system before and after cleaning. If any dust or debris is visible during the visual inspection, the system should not be considered cleaned. While you can perform your own visual inspection using a flashlight and mirror, a professional contractor should be able to allow you better access to system components and perhaps the use of specialized inspection tools. You may want to ask the contractor if they will do a visual inspection with you after the job is completed. For more information, contact:

Better Business Bureau

New York State Attorney General
(800) 771-7755

New York State Consumer Protection Board
(800) 697-1220

NADCA-National Air Duct Cleaners Association
(202) 737-2926

Environmental Protection Agency
(212) 637-3000

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a reliability report on any company, service or product.