Consumer Info on Air Duct Cleaning

How Can You Protect Yourself Against Air Duct Cleaning Scams?

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Power Vacuum Truck vs. Portable Vacuum System

Lately many people have been asking me about the difference between a portable system or a truck or van mounted vacuum and a POWER VACUUM TRUCK. So, I thought I would briefly describe the difference in duct cleaning equipment.

The difference between a duct cleaning job done with a power vacuum truck and a portable system is enormous. Contractors using inadequate vacuum collection systems and short cleaning procedures can cause more problems than they solve. According to the EPA-Environmental Protection Agency, these substandard jobs can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants into the air than simply leaving the ducts alone.

n order to complete the job correctly and according to NADCA standards, the contractor must place the system under negative pressure. This procedure is almost impossible to achieve with most portable vacuums which are rated under 4,000 cfms (cubic feet per minute). Even the largest portable vacuum, gas powered or electric,

is only capable of 5,100 cfms, which is grossly inadequate. Some contractors attempt to deceiveed4cdd_0133ae672f1c4c1f82fbdb67b1e86f2a

potential customers by stating they have a power vacuum truck, when in reality, they have mounted

a portable system in the rear of a van or pick up truck. The fact is that an actual power vacuum

truck (see photo) is an expensive investment (approximately $100,000) and most start up and fly

by night companies simply don’t have the capital to invest in such duct cleaning equipment, so they

purchase a tiny portable system for under $5,000 and call themselves duct cleaners.  A portable

system does not have the power to remove all the dirt and debris in the average home’s ductwork

system.  Another important factor is that it is very common for portable duct cleaning equipment to have maintenance problems. The seals and gaskets tend to deteriorate which then allows contaminants to reenter the living spaces in the home. Also HEPA filters must be frequently maintained and replaced or they lose their effectiveness. Either of these situations turn what was a bad health situation in the ductwork into a dangerous health situation in the home.

Why You Should Invest in a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning

Did you know that 70% of dryer fires a year are caused by a failure to properly clean your dryer vent?  According to the 2007 FEMA Fire Prevention Research Program analysis it is true. Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually. Dryer Vent cleaning is critical. To learn more on how dryer vents are started and what you can do to prevent a dryer vent fire in your home please read the full article from FEMA by clicking the following link.

http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/tfrs/v7i1.pdf

So how can you tell if your dryer vent needs to be cleaned?  There are three simple things you can check for:

  • Does it take longer for your clothes to dry and do thick materials (such as denim) still feel damp after drying for a long time?

  • Is the outside of your dryer hot to touch?

  • Is the exterior dryer flap outside not all the way open?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then it is time to get your dryer vent cleaned.  It is recommended that you have your dryer vent checked and cleaned every year.

Click the following link to check out a video from Angie’s List for more dryer vent cleaning tips.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/zSXcKKkjFic

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Scammers Beware!

By John Shulte, Executive Director, NADCA
Reprinted by permission from Duct Tales May/June 2010

 We’ve all seen them: the coupons offering whole-house air duct cleaning for less than the cost of cheeseburger off the value meal menu of your local fast food restaurant. I know you’ve seen these, because about a million NADCA members each year make it a point to call our offices and complain about these coupons. And despite our efforts to educate consumers and solicit support from the legal system, it has been this way for years.

My friends, I am pleased to report that the winds of change are finally-FINALLY-starting to blow our way! Earlier this year, the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (Maryland) pursued charges against eight air duct cleaning companies and two direct mail advertising firms for deceptive advertising practices and other illegal business practices. As part of the settlement, the companies were required to pay fines and issues refunds while also agreeing to discontinue the unscrupulous practices. You can get the details at : http://montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=6464.

On June 8, 2010 the Cook County State Attorney’s Office (Illinois) filed suit against American Pure Air, Inc. for allegedly charging for work not performed and, in some cases, for intimidating consumers for payment. According to the lawsuit, American Pure Air would falsely report that clients’ ductwork or furnaces were contaminated with mold, fungus, dust mites or bacteria and that these contaminants posed an immediate health risk. The company would then attempt to sell additional frivolous products or services to eliminate the purported contaminants. The suit seeks to permanently bar the defendants from engaging in any further alleged deceptive practices; refunds for victims and $50,000.00 in damages against the defendants.

These cases follow several news exposés in states across the country over the past six months, as well as other cases that are currently under investigation. NADCA Headquarters and NADCA members have assisted in these cases while distinguishing between the few bad actors in the industry and the quality service provided by the legitimate companies out there working hard to earn a living.

If you are contacted by a news agency looking for assistance with an investigative story (or if you have an opportunity to help regulators) I encourage you to get involved. Please make it a point to thank these folks for their efforts to protect legitimate businesses by exposing the frauds. Aside from the opportunity to differentiate NADCA members from the scammers, we also have an obligation to protect the consumers who buy from our industry. If you want some assistance in dealing with regulators or the media, please contact NADCA Headquarters-we are here and ready to help you.

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