- THE MAGAZINE
No doubt you have seen the ads for duct cleaning equipment and have wondered if it might be wise for you to get the training, make the purchase and expand your service offerings.
No doubt you have seen the ads for duct cleaning equipment and have wondered if it might be wise for you to get the training, make the purchase and expand your service offerings. Perhaps you’ve thought about adding duct cleaning to your offerings and subbing it out to a competent local company.
Either way, duct cleaning has become a popular add-on service for carpet cleaners and other businesses in the last 10 years, with firms like Sears and COIT raising public awareness of it by including it in their repertoire. But perhaps you’ve been wondering if duct cleaning is really valuable, or if people actually buy the service. The answers are “yes” and “decidedly yes.” Beyond that, people are more likely to buy if you are already in their homes cleaning carpets or performing other services. They know you, they (hopefully) trust you, and your service might have put them in a cleaning or maintenance mood.
Since commercial duct-cleaning jobs require a contractor’s license in most states, most service companies stick to residential duct cleaning where a license is not normally needed. (For commercial duct cleaning, a great option is to refer your duct cleaning leads to a licensed specialist in exchange for a finder’s fee.)
Let’s take a look at why homeowners might want to pay for duct cleaning. What are the most common reasons people get this done?
It's Common SenseWhile you are working the floors or other areas, you can’t help but notice the registers where the air comes out. These are commonly covered with dust or have dirt streaking out of them up the walls. If you look inside, you frequently see dust, lint buildup, debris of all sorts, and maybe a few crayons that the kids enjoyed dropping in the duct.
If the ducts look dirty, it’s a simple matter to tell the customer, “I noticed your ducts are dirty. Would you be interested in having them cleaned?” If the client asks why he should, again, the answer is simple: “If you look, you’ll see you have a lot of dirt buildup in there and, well, that’s the source of the air you breathe.” Many people get the point and want it remedied.
It's an Energy SaverAn outstanding study published in the November 2006 ASHRAE Journal (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) showed that cleaning the heating and cooling coils yearly (the part that makes the air hot or cold) makes a big difference in the energy bill, improving cooling and heating capacity up to 25 percent. It may not save enough to cover the cost of an entire cleaning, but it will certainly help.
It Can Improve HealthNotice I said can. The government doesn’t like you saying it will. But evidence exists that it may. Clients report their children’s allergies get better. A study conducted by Allergy Consumer Review (reported at www.allergyconsumerreview.com/air-purifiers-furnace-filters.html) found that HVAC cleaning reduced airborne particulates by about 75 percent, and contributed significantly to a reduction of allergy and illness symptoms in the building. Another little-known research project, published in the medical journal Annals of Allergy in 1993 found that residential duct cleaning reduced airborne fungus coming from the ducts by a whopping 84 percent to 92 percent – and this was when measurements were taken 8 weeks after the cleaning!
It Can Reduce House DustThe two aforementioned studies state that airborne particulate was dramatically reduced by duct cleaning. Less airborne particulate means less particulate on the furniture.
It's a Maintenance Check on the HVAC SystemWhen you clean the ducts, you look over the whole system and discover all kinds of things. Plastic toys melting on the heating coils. Ducts separated at the joints or completely disconnected (but usually easy to fix). Holes in the ducts from rats. Missing furnace filters. Smashed ducts from when the exterminator was in the attic. All kinds of energy-wasting, contaminating or money-consuming situations can be revealed during the cleaning process, saving the homeowner cash now and grief down the road.
“Oh,” the owner may tell you, “I got a coupon in the mail from a company that will do the whole house for $69.95.” Professional duct cleaners are well aware of this. The company comes into the house and finds all sorts of dire “problems” that require immediate and expensive solutions. It’s not uncommon for that bill to climb above $700. The best you can do if the customer wants to take that route is to gently tell her what you’ve heard about such offers, but that she’s perfectly welcome to take her chances.
And what about the option of subbing out your jobs to a duct-cleaning contractor? How do you find a reputable one? This is a simple business practice that saves you lots of overhead: most quality duct cleaners are members of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association and they can (and should) be able to give you plenty of references. Naturally, you want to be sure they have liability and workers’ comp insurance.
Duct cleaning can be a profitable add-on for your company, whether you want to do it yourself or sub it out. It’s worth considering if you’re willing to adventure out a little bit to add to your bottom line.