Have you been approached with a flier that offers to clean your entire air duct cleaning for $99? This sounds like an amazing deal, especially if you own a large home. But like most homeowners, you likely don’t know what the real value of air duct cleaning is. If you did get a flier promising low rates for residential air duct cleaning, then it is very likely a scam.
Here’s how you can tell.
The Difference Between Scams and the Real Deal
The first warning sign that you’re about to be scammed by an air duct cleaning company is that you’re being offered an upfront flat rate. A reputable residential or commercial duct cleaning company will provide an estimate based on the size of your home. It doesn’t really make sense for a professional to charge the same rate for a tiny home as it does a mansion.
Extremely low rates are enticing, especially during a shaky economy. However, you don’t want to fall for this trap only to end up with mediocre service. A lot of property owners that fall for the air duct cleaning scam end up with poor workmanship or incomplete work. In some cases, they’re even billed for additional fees they didn’t agree to.
There have been instances where scammers will inspect your air ducts only to claim to find a host of problems that may or may not exist. And that it needs immediate attention. One popular problem that’s thrown around during these inspections is mold growth. We all know how dangerous mold can be, so we don’t second guess the immediacy of the problem. The scammer may state that they have to remove and replace your entire system, quickly racking up the cost for labor and parts.
The scammers may also state that your air ducts are dirtier or bigger than expected. Then to appear legit, they oftentimes use imaging equipment to record the inspection and show to customers. They include a before and after video that may or may not even be your vents.
Protecting Yourself from Air Duct Cleaning Scams
The best way to safeguard yourself from these type of scams is to educate yourself. Do your due diligence to determine if the professional in question is indeed a professional. Check out the business online – you can find out a lot by using Google. See if thee are any reviews posted from past recent customers. Angie’s List is a great resource for finding and identifying reputable businesses and scam artists.
You should also check the Better Business Bureau or Home Advisor to see if there are any complaints against the business you’re considering. You can also check to see if they’re a member of the National Air Duct Cleaning Association, or NADCA. Any pricing guarantee you receive should be obtained in writing – and make sure to read the fine print of your contract.
The following are warning signs of air duct scam artists:
- Their ads offer one price, then when they arrive, it’s a much higher rate. This is known as the bait and switch. They use this tactic to get their foot in the door.
- Only one person shows up for the job. Normally, air duct cleaning crews consist of two to three people. It is more likely that that individual will perform a mediocre job and may only clean a portion of your vents.
- The time frame is super fast. If the technician says your entire home’s air duct system can be cleaned in one hour, then watch out. Most reputable companies will tell you that it takes between three and five hours, sometimes more.
- They won’t give you a written quote. Shady businesses only give you a quote over the phone and in person, without anything written down. This is too easy to switch up later on, so make sure that you have everything down in writing. The contract should also detail what services are to be performed for that price.
- Charging outrageous rates for simple services. Some scammers will try to rip you off by charging hundreds of dollars to sanitize your air ducts.
Make sure the professional you hire for trash chute cleaning and dryer vent cleaning is reputable. Use these tips to steer clear of scam artists!