Hot Topics: Duct Cleaning Scam

A duct cleaning invoice

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Duct cleaning has become a thing in the last few years, and while it may be necessary at times, there are also people out there taking advantage of our fear of mold and allergens. How do you know when the job really needs to be done, and who do you trust to do it? Ask the Forum.

Original Post: Duct cleaning- Did my father-in-law just get ripped off?

ualdriver Member

I come home from a business trip and check on my father-in-law. He tells me that while I was gone, he received an unsolicited phone call from a "duct and air cleaning specialist" who says that they will look at his air conditioning/heating ductwork for a free inspection. The guy comes over, does some sort of inspection, and says that the ducts needed to be cleaned out and the total would be $395.00 (attached). He lives in a 1,600 square foot ranch home built about 13 years ago with forced air heat/air conditioning.

Hot topics, Duct cleaning, Did my father-in-law just get ripped off?

Apparently after starting the cleaning, the technician comes back upstairs and tells him that he has "mold growth" and "visible water damage." I take care of his home and I wasn't aware of any of these things. My father-in-law is unable to climb the stairs down to the basement due to his physical condition, so he could not examine the "mold" himself.

So then he gets the second estimate (attached)... $638.00 to treat the mold and then $377 to seal the entire vent system with "soot sealer #1."

Hot topics, Duct cleaning, Did my father-in-law just get ripped off?

In total, he ended up paying these people around $1,000.00. I have never heard of the company before, and even the invoices they use don't even have a company letterhead on it. I blocked out the name, but it's just a rubber stamp on top of the invoice.

This amount seems absolutely crazy to me, but perhaps I am wrong which is why I am here. I've received lots of offers to clean the ductwork in my house (almost the same size as his), but it's always been for a couple of hundred bucks or so. Did my father-in-law just get totally ripped off? Check out the attached bills and let me know what you think.

Highlights from the Thread

PJmax Forum Topic Moderator

A free inspection is a come on. The ducts "always" need to be cleaned. The price of $395 seems to be inline. The mold and water damage price seems to be excessive. Who knows if you did have mold.

Water damage is probably stretching the truth. A lot of these companies play on people's fears of mold.

A word to the wise... If you want your ducts cleaned, make the call to contact a company... don't accept an unsolicited offer. Getting recommendations or using a well-known company is highly recommended.

ualdriver Member

I agree with all of that PJmax. Unfortunately, my father in law is elderly and I feel he fell victim to a fraud. I just can't imagine any duct cleaning service costing $1,000. If this is very excessive, I want to contact my Attorney General. If the pros on this forum feel it's not excessive, I guess he's just going to have to eat his $1,000.

And what the heck is soot sealer?

PJmax Forum Topic Moderator

It is unfortunate that these companies prey on the elderly. They mention mold since it's such a hot topic and basically everyone is afraid of it.

Unfortunately he approved the order for the extra work.

Read more at the original post: Air Circulation Ventilation