BBB warns to watch for deceptive air duct cleaners

By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you think it's time to service your air duct -- a warning from the Better Business Bureau. Deceptive air duct cleaners are targeting consumers.

The Environmental Protection Agency says if you are not careful, inadequate work to your air duct system could leave it damaged and increase your heating and air conditioning bill. Reputable companies, along with the BBB say a little research and patients could save you thousands of dollars.

Cleaning air ducts is a dirty job, but someone has to do it. We found a home about 30 years overdue for a cleaning.

"If the duct system that is clean and operates correctly it will last longer and in the long run will save the homeowner money," said Thomas Sprouse, with Creative Conservation.

Workers at Creative Conservation have a good name when it comes to keeping air ducts clean. They've been in the energy efficiency business for 30 years, but they worry crooks looking to make a quick buck could blemish consumer confidence for reputable companies like theirs. They say the last thing we want is a black eye entire industry.

The Better Business Bureau says if you're thinking of cleaning your air ducts don't be so quick to jump on the first deal. They say criminals are waiting to suck you in with low prices, and scare tactics designed to get you to act now.

"Don't buy into that, if you somebody gives you a real emotional pitch to say, 'boy you are in big trouble you don't want your grandchildren over here and I have seen this kind of stuff happen time and time again', that's when you want to show that person the door," said Tom Gallagher with the Richmond BBB.

Workers at Creative Conservation say do a visual inspections. If you see any buildup, then it may be time to get some work done.

"You can kind of tell if you got some junk in there but for the most part it is recommended every five years, and if you have pets or smoke even more frequently than that, like every three years," said Bryant Broughton who works for the company.

Experts say most professionals offer free estimates. They say legitimate companies will charge about $300 to $700, depending on your system. To better protect yourself, always ask for a second opinion about price and work that supposedly needs to be done.

"First of all look at reputable companies people with a little bit of experience doing this...and if you feel like something is not right then something is probably not right," said Broughton.

Right now, there are no major complaints about deceptive air duct cleaners in our area, but the BBB says they expect the calls to start coming in.

"This is during a down economy and a lot these scams crank up because people are not moving. They are far more concerned with the maintenance of their existing heat and air conditioner equipment," Gallagher said.

Experts also say when a company offers to service your air duct system -- you should also be leery of claims that you need extra work or additional services.

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