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Be leery of duct cleaning deals

Posted by Mitch Lipka  May 18, 2012 10:10 AM

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With warm weather soon turning into hot weather, air-conditioning time is approaching. And if you have central air conditioning, you’re going to get peppered with ads for duct cleaning and other services you might not need.

The shady companies usually start with the idea that you need a cleaning – whether you do or not – and they claim it can be done for less than $100. That’s just the way they get themselves into your home.

“Homeowners who want to have their ducts cleaned really need to do their homework and research any company before they hire,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “Beware the company that offers the $49 or $99 cleanings.”

She said that members of Angie’s List, which catalogs reviews and ratings of service providers in a variety of categories (including home improvement), report spending $300 to $500 on average for a legitimate cleaning.

Another warning sign you’re dealing with a less-than-reputable duct cleaner is if they try to convince you that regular use of their services will improve the air quality in your home and help prevent those inside from getting sick. This is the US Environmental Protection Agency’s take: “Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems.”

If you see your ducts are a big mess, with obvious signs of mold or infestation, you are a good candidate for a legitimate duct cleaning.

Here are some recommendations from Angie’s List before hiring a duct cleaner:

• Get three written estimates and check the companies’ references.

• Get it in writing that your contractor must commit to following National Air Duct Cleaning Association standards.

• Get the companies you interview to make a written checklist of what they will do.

There’s reason for concern: The folks at Angie’s List said they heard from a woman who had a $50 coupon for duct cleaning and ended up sitting through a two-hour sales pitch on why she needed $2,100 in services that turned out to be based on a phony mold test.

Don’t fall for the duct cleaning scam. And, if your ducts really do need cleaning, do it right – and expect to pay more than $99.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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