In addition, the service provider may propose applying chemical biocides, designed to kill microbiological contaminants, to the inside of the duct work and to other system components. Some service providers may also suggest applying chemical treatments (sealants or other encapsulants) to encapsulate or cover the inside surfaces of the air ducts and equipment housings because they believe it will control mold growth or prevent the release of dirt particles or fibers from ducts. These practices have yet to be fully researched and you should be fully informed before deciding to permit the use of biocides or chemical treatments in your air ducts. They should only be applied, if at all, after the system has been properly cleaned of all visible dust or debris.
All of you have dentists, you have doctors, you have preachers, you have mechanics. You don’t have to know everything about everything but you have to have people in your life that you can trust. Don’t just open up the phone book and pick a mechanical (HVAC) contractor. Call your friends and family and ask for referrals. There are no black and white (scam or not a scam) answers here.
I called the company and John answered. We set a time for him to come over that was convenient for us both. He came exactly on time and went right to work. He removed all of the vent covers, including some screens that were over the vents that I had no idea were there. He washed all of the vent covers with soap and water and then started to vacuum all of the ducts, doing a complete and thorough job. He was extremely friendly, professional and worked quickly and thoroughly. He even checked the dryer vent exhaust on the roof to make sure it was clear. After he finished vacuuming the ducts, he sanitized them and then reattached all of the vents.
They arrived within the time range I was given, and they even called about 20-30 minutes before arrival, so that was appreciated.   They arrived and started bringing some equipment - A shop vac (yea, like you can buy at any hardware store), a handheld vacuum cleaner, and large vacuum that came in on wheels.  After showing them the locations of all of the vents in the home and cold air returns, the technician (Simon) started going over a few things with me about their plan for cleaning and showing me the dust & dog hair build up in one of the vents.  After showing me that, he started to try to up-sell me on additional services. That additional service was to insert a 'brush' that would agitate the dust/pet hair and allow for the vacuum to get everything out of the vents.
The EPA and CMHC researchers used different methodologies. The CMHC study called on several duct-cleaning services. The companies were not made aware they were part of a study, and the researchers did not control for time spent or methods used. The EPA study prescribed and controlled methods used on a smaller number of homes. While the duct-cleaning industry argues both studies have flaws, no other research has challenged the findings. And although the equipment and methods used by duct-cleaning companies have changed since these studies were conducted, the air ducts in homes haven’t.
My 48 yr old house (mine for the last 4 yrs) has considerable dust in the return plenum (fiber duct). I’m remodeling and recently re-sealed the return plenum AND the site-fabbed transition built when the new unit was installed, 2013. The return was leaky no doubt drawing musty, dusty air from the crawl space due to the Red-Neck fab & seal job! Pitiful craftsmanship! It took me 7 hours to fix the new transition piece. Anyway, the dust in the house is the same “color” as whats in the return duct and I’m getting way too much & too often in the house. I’ve also cleaned my coils, which were not that dirty.
A thorough visual inspection is the best way to verify the cleanliness of your heating and cooling system. Some service providers use remote photography to document conditions inside ducts. All portions of the system should be visibly clean; you should not be able to detect any debris with the naked eye. Show the Post-Cleaning Consumer Checklist to the service provider before the work begins. After completing the job, ask the service provider to show you each component of your system to verify that the job was performed satisfactorily.

My vent covers have lots of mildew. They look bad! I live in a very humid climate in a condo. The handyman here has offered to take those down, wash them, sand, & then spray paint them with a mildew resistant paint. He said that he will leave them off overnight to dry. I am wondering if this is safe to breath the AC blowing out into the open all night??. ! Guess it is better than the mildew!?
My 48 yr old house (mine for the last 4 yrs) has considerable dust in the return plenum (fiber duct). I’m remodeling and recently re-sealed the return plenum AND the site-fabbed transition built when the new unit was installed, 2013. The return was leaky no doubt drawing musty, dusty air from the crawl space due to the Red-Neck fab & seal job! Pitiful craftsmanship! It took me 7 hours to fix the new transition piece. Anyway, the dust in the house is the same “color” as whats in the return duct and I’m getting way too much & too often in the house. I’ve also cleaned my coils, which were not that dirty.

I’m really not convinced that duct cleaning is of any value. My roommate wanted the ducts cleaned so he called some company. My scam senses is already tingling. They came in with a big negative pressure fan. Did some blowing and sucking in different vents. Then they tried to upsell a full system cleaning. They wanted to pull the blower and clean the heat transfer box at $700 per heater unit. I have a big house so we have two units. They also tried to sell us some “custom” $250.00 Air Lifetime air filters. At that point I pulled the BS get the hell out bell. After paying $520.00 for just the cleaning, I paid the bill and sent them on their way. I replaced the existing filter with the good old and cheap paper filters at $10.00 each. Duct cleaning… I’m not Impressed.
i called in and spoke to paula who said 6 weeks to get an appointment. i asked what cleaners they use to sanatize and deoderize. she said she was the only one there and didnt know. i explained i have severe allergies and she said someone would call me and let me know. they never called. brian came today and vaccumed my vents- and not all of them. i called and spoke to someone who said they were the manager named jennifer- she kept laughing at me and refused to let me talk to anyone else-she said she is the owner and would not give a refund.
If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.
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