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Cleaning Dirty Air Ducts

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Is there value in cleaning your home's air ducts? In this edition of Angie's List, we'll tell you what you need to know before you make that decision.

"We did our own drywall work and created a lot of drywall dust," Homeowner Adam Ketterman said. "It didn't really occur to me that even though we vacuumed it all up that their might still be some that got sucked into the system."

Adam Ketterman suffered from a nagging cough after the work was done, so he had his air ducts cleaned.

"I did feel a lot better physically right after the duct cleaning like within two to three days. I noticed it was like flipping a switch, so I was kind of excited about that."

There is no scientific evidence regular duct cleaning improves air quality. Some consumers say that when they have their ducts cleaned, they experience fewer allergy symptoms and cleaner air.

"So this is our negative air machine where the suction or the vacuum hose leads into this," Dave Adams, who is the owner of Air Duct Cleaning Company, described. "When it's on, it fills up and all the debris that we get out of your ducts is collected right here."

There are a couple of ways to tell if your ducts are dirty.

"One of the easiest ways to find out is to take the vent cover off, stick a camera phone down there and take a picture. They are going to be able to see down the duct. Another sign is if the house is dusty a day or two after cleaning the house."

With any service, beware of bait-and-switch -- a company advertising a low price and then immediately start tacking on up-charges or using scare tactics.

"It's important for consumers to get written in-home estimates because a lot of times air duct cleaning is based on either the square footage of the home or the number of vents," Angie Hicks, who is the founder of Angie's List, said. "A typical air duct cleaning might cost anywhere from $300-$500. If you find you're being offered a really low price, you're going to want to question it."

Qualified air duct cleaners will follow strict standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association. This will assure a company won't make the problem worse or damage your heating and cooling system.

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