Need your ducts cleaned? Here's what to look for so you don't get ripped off

If you own a home you may have considered getting your ducts cleaned, especially if you have pets, allergies or have had recent home renovations done.

You may have received random phone calls from duct cleaners or seen advertisements to have the job done, but what is the best way to choose a company?

Debbie Wilson of Oshawa hired a duct cleaner, but in the end felt she was overcharged and may have paid for a service she didn’t need.

"You just feel foolish and angry," said Wilson.

When Wilson saw an ad for duct cleaning in a flyer for $149 she called the company, but was surprised when they showed up in a van instead of a large duct cleaning truck.

The two workers told her that she had mould in her ducts that should be dealt with immediately at a cost of an additional $900. Wilson agreed to the added charge, but later had her HVAC system checked by someone else.

“He said ‘Your ducts are as dirty as ever and I don't see any mould down there,’" Wilson said.

Atanas Deliivanov of Scarborough hired the same company, which also said he had mould in his ductwork. He also paid an additional $900 but was concerned after the company left and his ducts were still dirty. When he called the company he said they refused to come back.

“Absolutely I feel I was taken advantage of,” said Deliivanov. “They just told me you've got mould in the duct and we got scared and we made a quick move which was obviously wrong."

CTV News Toronto contacted the company that cleaned both Wilson’s and Deliivanov’s ducts, but the company’s lawyer told CTV News Toronto that “whatever work was done was appropriate and proper.”

CTV News Toronto also reached out to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) , a group that promote ethics and fairness in the duct cleaning industry.

Clint Orr, a spokesperson with NADCA, and also a duct cleaner who owns Full Throttle Furnace and Duct Cleaning in Regina, Saskatchewan said “our mandate is to give our customers proper advertising and to not falsify anything that we can't back up."

Orr said that low prices are often a red flag.

“If you get into a duct cleaning job for $99 or $149 dollars and they are done in 15 to 45 minutes, that's a telling tale that maybe some steps were missed," said Orr.

Orr says while mould can be an issue in ductwork, photos and samples should be provided and testing can also be done by a third party. 

Orr said a duct cleaner should also be able to provide customers with before and after photos or video.

“Photo or video evidence is actually paramount to make sure you actually got your system cleaned," said Orr.

When you're choosing a duct cleaning company beware of low introductory pricing, expensive surprise add-ons and high pressure sales tactics.

Orr said customers can also consider choosing a NADCA member. On the association's website, you can put in your postal code and duct cleaners that belong to the association will be listed in your area.

The industry suggests getting your ducts cleaned every few years, but it really depends on where you live and how dirty they get. Changing your furnace filter often can also help keep your duct work clean.