Air Duct Cleaning-No, I really need to do it, what to look for

I’ve been told pretty much my entire career as a landlord that this is pretty much a scam. My contractor partner agrees.

We’re clearing an apt. where the tenant was a hoarder and a mess. Not a dirty filthy hoarder, just tons of crap. About 5000 books in disrepair and it seems she kept the empty box from everything she bought in her life. And she bought a lot.

Taking it down to the studs basically, for a lot of reasons. Took the HVAC registers off and OMG. Now, when I bought the house, she was in there. And apparently no one had ever told her to change her HVAC filter. In fact, due to her disability, I’ve been changing the filters the last 10 years. Helped me keep an eye on her mess.

These ducts are AWFUL. I called my regular HVAC guy and they don’t do it, and they don’t do recommendations. Yeah, this industry is full of BS. So I’ve researched air duct cleaning companies and found one that seems to be reputable. They come out Monday. Blah blah blah about their wonderful service from guy on the phone. I pointed out to him that he will be meeting my partner who is not gonna be sold on horseshit.

What can I expect? They quoted what seems to be a ridiculously low price for this approx. 1000 sq. ft. unit.

It’s a good idea once in a while, air ducts can get pretty dirty. It shouldn’t cost too much for the basic suck and blow job, but if the ducts are really bad they need to get up in them with brushes and that’s probably gonna cost more then they’re quoting. Chimney cleaning is like this also, most chimneys aren’t that dirty and a quick scrub will clean them out sufficiently. When they have a lot of built up residue it takes more work than the basic price quote allows for.

I can imagine the HVAC guys don’t want to do it. They put in clean new ducts, they don’t want to get involved with cleaning.

About every five years, particularly if you live in a dusty locale, there are pets in the house, or you have done renovation that creates dust and debris from sheetrock and other construction work. You’d be amazed what can end up in the ductwork. When you have it done, use a company that has a vacuum truck, not one that brings the vac inside the house. The latter does nothing but empty your wallet.

Can you explain that last part? Are you saying that the vac-inside-the-house is ineffective or just more expensive? Why is that?

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My landlord took advantage of a program with the city electric company where they offer low cost loans, rebates, etc. for things like wrapping your water heater, blowing and sealing a/c ducts, installing programmable thermostats, etc. They also have a list of approved contractors for certain tasks. I’d give them a call.

Ineffective. When I didn’t know better, I hired an outfit to do it that way because of the low cost. A couple of years later, when we were still coughing our lungs out, I brought in a vac truck outfit. The guy showed me the inside of the vent near the furnace, which had dirt and actual chunks of sheetrock still sitting in it from when the house was remodeled back in 2005. Vac trucks vac from both ends, both at the registers and at the intake/outflow of the furnace. They also brush the inside of the ducting as far as their equipment will reach. The suction generated by the vac truck is substantial, and it takes several hours to complete the work. The other guys took about an hour, with a unit they brought into the house. It was a waste of money.

$20, same as in town.