Carpet/Rug/Upholstery Cleaning

Five Things to Know about Air Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is an important service, especially applicable to customers with allergies.

June 17, 2013

  1. According to NADCA, air ducts should minimally be cleaned every 4-5 years
  2. The two main types of duct cleaning equipment are portables and specialty truckmounted machines
  3. Offering air duct cleaning can be a crucial aspect of building relationships with clients
Air duct cleaning is becoming an increasingly popular add-on among carpet cleaning businesses today. To give you a better idea of whether or not the service is the right add-on for you, and what type of equipment would work best in your market and for your potential duct cleaning clients, we reached out to some professionals that are already doing it. Here’s a look at five things they had to say about air duct cleaning:

Why it’s important:

“Duct systems accumulate a significant amount of household dust and if the accumulation builds up, the dust may be re-circulated back into the living space, requiring more frequent dusting and cleaning around the home,” begins Bill Benito, president of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). “Regular cleaning and maintenance of the air handler coils and fans will reduce energy consumption and improve indoor air quality.”
What’s more is that clean HVAC systems also run more efficiently and proper maintenance can actually extend the life of the equipment as well. 
Offering an add-on service like duct cleaning also makes sense from a business perspective in many cases. Explains Marcus Taylor, Modernistic Cleaning Department Director (Plainwell, MI): “If you have done the right things for your carpet cleaning customers, they already see you as a trusted advisor and expert on maintaining a healthy home. With this relationship in-tact, air duct cleaning is an easy additional (service) to offer your customers. Your technicians are already used to in-home customer service, so it will be an easy transition for them as well.”

How often it should be done:

According to Benito, HVAC systems should be inspected annually. “It’s as easy as removing a vent and using a mirror to look down the ducts.” Inspection can also be accomplished with remote cameras, to really show the client whether or not they’re in need of the duct cleaning service.
Things like pet dander, home renovations and allergies can lead to more regular duct cleaning, but Benito recommends that complete system cleanings should be completed at least once every four to five years, regardless.

The equipment:

There are two main varieties of equipment used in duct cleaning – portable machines and specialty truckmounted machines. The former come with inexpensive up-front costs, where the truckmounted machines are installed on specialty trucks, which can cost $50,000 to $60,000 per unit.
Here’s some more info on the equipment from the cleaners that are using each type:
Truckmounted systems:
  • Carpet Tech: Duct cleaning is one of the many services that Carpet Tech offers the west Texas and eastern New Mexico market that it serves. Owner Chet Pharies has three custom cleaning trucks on his fleet, which are truckmounted and PTO driven. (See Image 1) This allows the equipment to generate up to 16,000 cfm and achieve about three times the suction of a portable machine, he says.
  • Modernistic: “We use only truckmounted air duct cleaning machines,” Taylor says. “The benefit of this method is that everything from the customer’s vents is extracted directly into the truck. Also, the truckmount is far more powerful than portable air duct cleaning machines.”
Portable equipment:
  • Yellow Van Cleaning and Restoration: When David Keiter added duct cleaning as a service in 2006, the plan was only to do about 12 jobs per month. Today at Yellow Van Cleaning, they do about six jobs per week, which makes using portable equipment a fit. He says, “It’s about matching the capacity with what the majority of our projects are going to be. For about $12,000 you can start with portable units and that’s $50,000 to $60,000 with a truck.”
  • Craig Kersemeier, K-Tech: “We have portables, we have both the electric and the gas (types). We like it because it’s easier access. It gets us into every place. It can go anywhere. If you have a truly truckmounted one, you have to get as close as you can or you’re extended hoses out quite a distance. Really, when you’re doing mechanical cleaning, it’s a lot about taking your time and doing detailed work. You can do that with these electric and gas (portables).

Potential profits:

Like anything, profits vary by the market you’re working in and how big of a job you’re doing. However, according to Kersemeier, K-Tech makes anywhere from $400 to $500 on an average job, which typically consists of anywhere from 12 to 15 vents.
“The beautiful thing about it is it is profitable,” he says. “When you do add-on services, you already have built overhead. Adding on services that are complimentary go to the bottom line a lot faster.”
In some cases, air duct cleaning has even led to other related add-ons, like in the case of Carpet Tech. Pharies says that his air duct cleaning techs have taken HVAC repair classes and are now qualified to perform that work, too.

On marketing it:

“The biggest thing we do is the cross-selling,” says Kersemeier. “When the guys are in there doing the carpet cleaning, they’re in there cross-selling the duct cleaning and vice versa.”
Says Keiter: “It’s an important part of building a relationship with our clients. Get the proper training, get a NADCA certification, get involved with a good supplier who can (help) with some of the training you’re going to need.” 

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