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Clean Ducts For Your Bucks- Judging A Duct Cleaning Company and Getting your Money’s Worth

Ducts carry air through a building. They can become dirty and require cleaning or gather lint posing a fire hazard. Clean ducts are important for any facility’s safety and proper functioning but it’s not a job anyone can handle. Most people don’t have a clue how to judge a good duct cleaning company. Here are a few pointers from my two decades of experience in the business.

I like a bargain as much as the next guy, maybe more. But the best price is not always the best deal. Duct cleaning companies can have large pricing differences. One can cost more than twice as much as the other, sometimes triple. Why?

Well, here’s a shocker: Some companies simply don’t do the work. Ducts are hidden in the walls and ceiling. It’s easy to get away with not cleaning them. What building manager or homeowner has the time to crawl the attic spaces or pull off every register to ensure the ducts are clean? Duct cleaners know their work will likely go uninspected. So how do you know if you are going to get a good job? How do know what to look for? Here are some ideas.

  1. 1. Be sensible about the price you are quoted. If you are given three bids of $400, $300, and $125 -- be alert. It’s highly unlikely you will get the same job at $125 that you will at $300 or $400.
  2. Listen to the contractor giving you the price. Does he sound like he knows what he’s doing? How long has he been in business? Does he seem straightforward or evasive?
  3. On larger jobs you should have a written estimate. It should tell you the details of the work. Compare estimates. See if each company is providing the same service. Don’t be baffled or fooled by technical words. Understand the service being offered.

This method is tried and true. It’s not a complete guarantee you’ll get a good company, but almost. Even a young company should have satisfied customers to refer you to. If a duct cleaning business has a broad list of well-known clients, you probably have a winner.

Is the company a Natl. Air Duct Cleaners Assn. (NADCA) member? That helps. That means they have a desire to keep up with the industry and take a professional attitude about their work.


You don’t have to crawl the attic with them, but watch them work. Use common sense. If a worker spends 3 minutes on the roof with the air conditioning unit and declares it “clean”…I don’t think so. In large buildings, if you see a 40-foot stretch of 10”-wide duct with no access holes cut in it, yet the “cleaner” says he hand-vacuumed it, that’s not realistic. On the other hand, you can usually tell when people are working hard to do a decent job. Workmen moving about diligently, popping off registers or crawling ducts and getting things done – that’s a good sign.

Using these guidelines, a duct cleaning consumer has a decent chance at finding a quality company at a fair price and avoiding the grim discovery of finding he paid for nothing. As a professional penny-pincher myself, I hope this can help buyers get more clean duct for their buck.

Dan Stradford has been president and CEO of Los Angeles-based Action Duct Cleaning Co. for over 25 years. He is also president and founder of SafeHarbor, the nation's leading nonprofit for non-drug mental health education and a member of the Natl. Air Duct Cleaner's Association.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Charged For A Fire That Killed 2 Firefighters

CHICAGO, Ill. — The owner of an abandoned laundry in which two firefighters died during a fatal fire was charged with criminal contempt because it was alleged that he ignored a court order to secure the laundry building and repair the roof which collapsed during the fire. In addition to the death of two firefighters, 15 other firefighters were injured when the roof collapsed.