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Home Air Duct Cleaning Tips

So by now you know that the primary goal to prepare our new home before moving in was to get rid of the strong tobacco smell. To best do that, we decided on the following 3 things (in this order):
1. New Paint
2. Remove old carpet and replace with new carpet
3. Clean the Air Ducts

We got great referrals for the first two (Scott from Pro-Home Solutions for the paint & Lowes in Dickson for the carpet/install), but I was on my own for the air-duct cleaning.

I started with the usual techniques: Google searches and ads from the Val-Pak home mailer. I made a couple calls and got the standard quotes, but still felt confused about what exactly I should be looking for and what questions I should be asking.

Then I happened upon Mr. B’s Air Ducts. As the “Frugal Mom” on NewsChannel5 here in Nashville, I had remembered that he had been a featured business on the station before because of his positive reputation (an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau).

When I called and spoke to Mr. B himself (aka Warren – yes, he really does answer his own phones after all these years in business!), what impressed me most was that he seemed more concerned about educating me to make sure I asked the right questions about having my air ducts clean than he was about making me his customer.

He proceeded to tell me two things in particular that set him & his company apart in my mind:
1. This is ALL he does – they’re not there to clean windows, sweep chimneys, etc, they specialize in cleaning air ducts. Plus his employees are exactly that – his employees (not contract laborers). In his own words, “I personally do not believe anybody in this industry will out clean me…People can out-price me, but they can’t out-clean me.” (Though his price was still much lower then many of his competitors!)

2. His cleaning technique – there are many people in industry that strictly do “vent line cleaning”; they offer a low price to get in the door, but all they do is vacuum the lines and spray chemical into the air returns.

Here’s what happens when Mr. B’s comes to your house:
They go under your house, cut an access hole into the trunk line (main artery) and then attach a HEPA vacuum system. They then come back to each line in house, brush it and air sweep it straight to trunk line so as not to bring any debris back into breathing atmosphere.

Once every vent is brushed/swept to trunk line, they go back into crawl space/basement and the clean trunk line all the way back to HEPA vacuum with brushes & air sweeps.

Last but not least, they literally look inside the line to make sure they got everything out of it. It’s then sealed back up with sheet metal, zip screws and foil tape and then they clean the return line out the same way.

3. Ok, I know I said two things, but this was what really sealed the deal for me: They use no chemicals in the house whatsoever. Everything they do is all natural. Warren told me, “We want you and your family to breathe a fresher air in your house, not a chemically induced air”.

When I asked if this was typical in his industry, he said, “most use a product and call it ‘sanitizing’. They will tell you it gets rid of mold and mildew. If they do, you need to find out what’s the root issues going on and not simply put chemicals in your breathing environment. If you were to actually have mold, that equals a moisture problem and needs to be addressed on its own”.

I didn’t hire him on the spot; though I probably should have. I made other calls and no-one could educate me or answer my questions the way Warren did. When I did call back to hire his company, I asked if he could further educate me so that I could share this valuable information with all of you!

Home Air Duct Cleaning Tips & Questions to Ask

Most air-duct cleaning companies will ask you how many floors your house is, how many vents & returns you have, as well as how many square feet there are, here are the questions you should ask them:
*”What kind of equipment do you use?” <You’ll hear something like brushes & air sweeps (like Mr. B’s) or a roto-brush, for example (which is a glorified shop-vac with a 2 inch vacuum hose and can only reach branch lines).

* “Do you clean vent lines or air ducts?” <It’s important to understand the difference between vent line cleaning & air duct cleaning
* “Are you going to use any chemicals in my home?”
* “Are there any fees beyond the quoted price?”

>With Mr. B’s, when you’re quoted a price, that’s exactly what it is. No-one’s going to try to change it. You can also rest assured that all workmanship is guaranteed 100% satisfaction…plus most houses will be good for 5-7 years in normal living conditions.

Oh yeah – do you want to see what they found in my air-ducts?

The HEPA vac Mr. B’s used in our home
A closer look at what came out of our ducts!
A closer look at what came out of our ducts!
Those filters started out light green!

Now I know why it smelled like smoke…they actually found a pack of cigarettes in the air-ducts ( in addition to a lot else, as you can see from the pictures above).

I was appalled, to say the least.

So if you suffer from allergies, have funky smells in your home, have moved into a new home like my family, or simply want to create a healthier breathing environment for your family, I would consider looking in to having your air ducts cleaned. Just make sure to follow our guidelines above to ensure that you bring the best person for the job into your home! (Of course, if you live in the Nashville area, give Mr. B’s Air Ducts a call… any tell him Sami says hi!)

For more home cleaning and moving tips, check out my house posts!

I was not paid for this article; rather I asked Mr. B if I could share his wisdom because I was so impressed with the time he took on the phone with me (on multiple occasions!)…though he did give me a bit of a discount in return for sharing my honest experience here 🙂