(Angie's List) - Is there value in cleaning your home's air ducts? In this Angie's List report, what you need to know before making a decision.
Adam Ketterman says he suffered from a nagging, dry cough after some drywall work created a lot of dust in his home.
He scheduled an air duct cleaning and immediately felt his symptoms improve.
"I did feel a lot better physically right after the duct cleaning like within two to three days. I noticed it was like flipping a switch, so I was kind of excited about that," says Ketterman.
There is no scientific evidence that regular duct cleaning improves air quality, but some consumers have reported that when they have their ducts cleaned, they experience fewer allergy symptoms and cleaner air.
Air duct cleaning is designed to remove air-borne dust and debris from the air duct system components of HVAC, forced air systems, gravity heaters and other related systems.
"This is the hose for the negative air machine that pulls about 5,500 cubic feet of air per minute. We cut into the supply and the return side. We push through the system. The debris comes through the system, hits this hose and then is carried outside to the negative air machine filter and all of the debris is captured outside so nothing will be inside your home," says Dave Adams, the owner of an air duct cleaning company.
Adds Adams, "So this is our negative air machine where the suction or the vacuum hose leads into this. When it's on, it fills up and all the debris that we get out of your ducts is collected right here."
Angie's List says you must do your research when hiring to ensure you are working with a reputable contractor.
Beware of bait-and-switch tactics that advertise an unbelievably low rate and then immediately start tacking on up-charges or using scare tactics.
"One of the more common things that we hear about with air duct cleaning comes down to pricing. It's important for consumers to get written in-home estimates because a lot of times air duct cleaning is based on either the square footage of the home or the number of vents. A typical air duct cleaning might cost anywhere from $300-$500. If you find you're being offered a really low price, you're going to want to question it," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
There are a couple of ways to tell if your air ducts are dirty.
Concludes Adams, "One of the easiest ways to find out is to take the vent cover off, stick a camera phone down there and take a picture. They are going to be able to see down the duct. Another sign is if the house is dusty a day or two after cleaning the house."
Qualified air duct cleaners will follow strict standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA).
Allowing an unqualified contractor to clean your ducts could be worse than not having them cleaned at all. More particles could be broken up and released into your home or your HVAC system could be damaged.