416-SO-CLEAN technician cleaning ducts

416-SO-CLEAN truck performing job

Duct cleaning is not a DIY project. It requires specialized equipment, including a high-powered industrial vacuum that takes the debris out of your home into a truck. Our Home Renovation Survival Guide offers helpful tips on how to select the right company for the job.  These include reading homeowner reviews, getting quotes from three companies and asking for references from recent customers. Whether you’re searching for a duct cleaning specialist or are still in the early phases of learning about your ducts, there are many things to consider before you hire. We spoke to Adel Majd of 416-SO-CLEAN to find out what homeowners need to know before having their ducts cleaned.

Frequency.

A general rule of thumb is every five years, but how often you get your ducts cleaned depends on several factors: Do you have pets or allergies to dust? Have you just finished a renovation leaving fine powdery dust everywhere? Has water entered the air system through a leak or flood causing mould to grow in the ducts? Although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can only be made by a laboratory. For about $80, this microbiology lab can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky tape is mould or simply a substance that resembles it.

Duct interior view before & after

Interior view of duct before & after

According to Adel Majd of 416-SO-CLEAN, “To determine if your ducts need to be cleaned, remove the cover of the main floor cold air return vent on the wall, then look inside with a flashlight for accumulation of fine dust.”The best way to extend intervals between duct cleanings is to prevent foreign material

The best way to extend intervals between duct cleanings is to prevent foreign material like dirt or water from entering the ducts in the first place. Supply vents deliver warm or cool air from the furnace throughout the house. Since they are usually on the floor they can collect dust and debris, so remove the grills or floor registers and vacuum inside the vent periodically. Consider a ‘no shoes in the house’ policy. Replace your furnace filter every Spring and Fall with a high-quality HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.

Cost.

Based on over 1,800 HomeStars duct cleaning reviews written in the past 12 months, the average cost for duct cleaning is about $400, ranging from $377 in Ontario to $413 in Alberta.

What you should expect.

It helps to understand how your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system works. This infographic provides a simplified overview of a standard HVAC system. A more detailed explanation is in this 7-minute video, courtesy of 416-SO-CLEAN.

Typical HVAC system

Courtesy of US Environmental Protection Agency

Ask before the work begins.
416-SO-CLEAN technician preforming a duct cleaning

416-SO-CLEAN technician performing a duct cleaning

Before the work begins, ask them to describe their entire process in detail. First, they should check for asbestos if it’s an older home. It’s very rare, but if it’s present, hire a specialist to remove this proven carcinogen. Ask to see the access port once opened – it’s usually 8″ to 12” in diameter located near the furnace and it must be resealed airtight after the job is done.  416-SO-CLEAN recommends both localized contact cleaning inside each vent and centralized vacuuming of the entire system. Because duct cleaning can stir up dust, cover carpets and furnishings.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, if a service provider fails to follow proper procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum system can release more dust and dirt than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or HVAC system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to make costly repairs or replacements.

Be cautious.

416-SO-CLEAN technicianLet’s face it, we’ve all been annoyed by those calls trying to sell you duct cleaning services. Beware – you’re likely not speaking to a duct cleaning company. Adel Majd of 416-SO-CLEAN says that “chances are, you’re actually speaking to a telemarketer at a call centre. They earn money by generating sales leads to sell to contractors.” If you take the bait and agree to have duct cleaning services, they will sell your sales lead to the highest bidding company and take a hefty commission.

Also, beware of ‘bait & switch’ tactics where they sell you on a discounted basic service then add on expensive extras once the work begins. Understand what’s going to be done and get it in writing with an estimate that you’ve signed before the work begins. Be sure to read reviews and get quotes from multiple companies. Start on HomeStars and find a duct cleaning specialist in your area today.

Posted by David Bounsall