Did you know that anywhere from 25% to 40% of the energy used by your HVAC system gets wasted? Contaminants trapped in your heating or cooling system are a major contributing factor to this waste.
Aside from saving on energy bills, having your ducts cleaned helps ensure you and your family breathe the best quality air possible. This is especially important if you suffer from allergies or other respiratory illnesses.
With summer right around the corner, you’re probably considering a duct cleaning of your system for peak usage. But how do you know you’ve hired a legitimate company?
Air duct cleaning scams are fairly common, but there are some things you can look out for to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.
Let’s go over some ways you can avoid getting scammed by fraudulent services.
Don’t Get Reeled in by Low Prices
One of the most common tactics used by untrustworthy companies is to attract customers with unusually low prices. They often do this with coupons advertising specials for duct cleaning services for anywhere from $50 to $100.
Once they’ve performed the service, they’ll say the offer only applies to a certain number of vents. All of a sudden, the price increases dramatically. Another common scam is to attract you with an extremely low deal, then claim you need “add-ons” to the original service.
This is referred to as the “bait and switch” technique. They bait unsuspecting customers with attractive deals then switch the price after the service is finished.
Avoid getting scammed by only working with companies who have competitive, yet industry-standard pricing. You should expect to pay around $300 to $400 for a regular cleaning.
Watch Out for Mold Inspection Coupons
If you get an advertisement or coupon in the mail offering a free mold inspection along with a cleaning, avoid it altogether.
Yes, a company that uses this scam will come in and perform the inspection. However, they always find mold, regardless of whether it’s actually there or not.
You can probably guess what happens next. Suddenly the price for the service jumps dramatically due to the need to have the mold removed.
Some companies even stoop so low as to bring in artificial tests in order to convince you that you need mold removal. The truth is, you probably don’t have it at all.
When you speak with a company about their service, avoid getting scammed by asking what they charge for mold removal and if they perform an inspection. Most legitimate businesses inspect your unit anyway and don’t need to offer it as an added service.
Only Work with Licensed and Experienced Companies
A great way to avoid getting scammed is to check that a company is licensed by the state. You can also look for certification by the National Air Duct Cleaners’ Association (NADCA). If an organization doesn’t hold one or both of these, you shouldn’t hire them.
If it’s unclear on their website whether they hold the proper licenses, ask for proof before you decide to work with them. Aside from ensuring legitimate business practices, these licenses back up their knowledge of HVAC cleaning.
You should also avoid working with companies or contractors who don’t have an established reputation in your area. That’s not to say that a new company will scam you. However, it’s more assuring to work with someone who has a history of providing service in the same location for years.
Use Online Reviews and Referrals
Online reviews are a great way to weed out untrustworthy companies. People now use them every day when deciding on products and services. You should too.
Check a company’s rating online and look at feedback from previous clients. If you see frequent complaints or testimonials that mention shady practices, move on to the next business.
You can also check with the Better Business Bureau if you’re unsure about a certain company.
Getting a personal referral is also a great way to avoid getting scammed. A good friend or family member isn’t going to suggest a service they’ve had a bad experience with.
If you use another person for HVAC maintenance, ask them if they know of a trustworthy duct cleaning service. They probably have business connections they can use.
Ask About Their Process
Asking about a business’s cleaning process before you hire them is a great way to decide if they’re legitimate. But what should you look for?
A quality duct cleaning begins with an inspection of your unit and ductwork. Then, they should hook up a vacuum system to your ducts to pull dirt and debris that’s stuck in your system.
They’ll also use professional equipment such and brushes and scrubbers to clean the ductwork. A quality cleaning also ends with a final inspection.
If a business doesn’t employ these techniques or are vague about their process, don’t hire them. If they say it’ll only take an hour to do the job, find someone else. A proper duct cleaning usually takes two to three hours.
Ask About Pricing Up Front
When you speak with a duct cleaning service, make sure you ask about all costs up front before you hire them. This includes any fees that could possibly get tacked on to the standard cleaning cost.
Make sure you get a quote in writing and that it states all fees included in the service. If they say they can’t give you a price estimate, don’t hire them.
This ensures you avoid getting mixed up with a business that tries to surprise clients with additional fees after they’ve agreed to the service. These companies don’t have your best interests in mind.
Use These Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed
Caring for and maintaining your home is expensive enough as it is. You don’t need fraudulent service technicians taking advantage of your lack of HVAC knowledge.
Make sure you keep all the points discussed above in mind when scheduling your next duct cleaning. Simply knowing what scams to look for gives you an advantage over those businesses looking to make money using unethical practices.
We provide a full range of residential and commercial duct cleaning services in the Los Angeles area. Contact us today to schedule a cleaning.