When it comes to the home improvement and repair industry, most contractors are honest and fair. But like any industry, air duct cleaning is not immune to scammers looking for opportunities to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. In fact, the industry is plagued with fraudulent service providers eager to cheat homeowners.
Since there’s a lot of talk these days about indoor air quality, more and more households are exploring options for HVAC system cleaning. While it may feel like no cost is too high for cleaner, healthier air, the reality is that budget-conscious families want to get the best bang for their buck. But it’s important to know that swindlers are on the prowl, eager to cheat homeowners – especially those concerned about the health and safety of their families.
When it comes to air duct cleaning specifically, homeowners should beware of what we call “blow-and-go” companies that often hook unsuspecting homeowners with bargain-basement prices like “$89 whole-house specials.” It’s a popular marketing tactic. These companies charge a nominal fee, and then do an inferior job, only cleaning what the homeowner can see, leaving dirt and contaminants deep within the system. Then, these deceitful contractors often up-sell add-on services, persuading the homeowner to pay for unneeded services. For instance, they may falsely lead homeowners to believe they have mold or other toxic substances in their HVAC systems, or use scare tactics to convince a homeowner that urgent repairs are necessary.
It’s important to know the signs of a scam, and as a homeowner, you can take steps to make sure you don’t fall prey to dishonest tactics. Here are five common schemes to avoid:
Pressure for a Quick Decision: A respectable company won’t pressure you into making an immediate decision. Qualified contractors know that home improvement services are a serious investment and understand if you need to take a few days to carefully consider your decision.
Ask for Payment Up Front or Only Accept Cash: While it’s possible a reasonable down payment can be part of the process, an excessive amount — or asking for payment in full — is a huge red flag. A reputable company will ask that the majority of cost for the service is paid at the completion of the job.
Convince the Homeowner of Unforeseen Problems: While unforeseen problems do pop up, be cautious if your contractor starts finding reasons to increase prices. Make sure everything is in writing, and if you’re suspicious about price increases, consider getting a second opinion.
Knock on Your Door: Beware of a contractor that knocks on your door saying he/she was “just in the neighborhood.” An established company will earn business through advertisements or referrals. Going door-to-door to find work is a sure sign of a scammer.
Low-ball Prices: Not to say that reputable companies never offer promotional pricing or discounts, but it’s best to be cautious of companies that promote rock-bottom prices for services. Beware of coupons with $89 “whole house air duct cleaning” or “HVAC mold and soot removal.”
Buyers beware, just like other products and services, cheaper is rarely better when it comes to air duct cleaning. Even the best bargain hunters know there are some instances when you can skimp, but other times it’s worth the investment. While air duct cleaning isn’t cheap (when it’s done right), it also won’t break the bank.
So, when all those flyers appear in your mailbox for air duct cleaning deals that seem too good to be true, they probably are! When tempted with coupons and flyers advertising rock bottom prices and a chance to mark off one of those daunting tasks on your to-do list, it’s easy to jump at what seems like a great bargain. But before diving in, it’s always a good idea to pause and ask yourself if the deal is going to save you money, or possibly cost you more in the long run.
We all want our families to breathe clean, healthy air, right? When you’re ready to tackle those air ducts, make sure you choose a qualified contractor to ensure the job is done right – one who is certified for the task. NADCA members have technicians on staff with advanced training and certification in HVAC system cleaning, and follow a higher standard when it comes to customer service.
NADCA makes it really simple for homeowners to find an air duct cleaning professional. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area.
More on NADCA Members and Air Duct Cleaning Scams
It seems that every day, we hear of air duct cleaning companies contacting homeowners with false claims that they’re NADCA members, and worse, that they got the consumer’s contact info from NADCA. NADCA never shares homeowner contact info with our members, or anyone else. Nor do we maintain a database of homeowners. It’s simple to verify whether an air duct cleaning company is a NADCA member. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area.