I have been involved with the HVAC cleaning industry for nearly 30 years. Upon completion of my military service, I moved back to Oregon and took a job at a carpet cleaning company. The company also offered “duct cleaning” (in quotes because it was simply sticking the carpet cleaning vacuum hose into the ducts to suck up some of the loose debris) as an additional service. As far as the customer was concerned, I was a professional duct cleaner.
In 1998, I launched Guarantee Carpet Cleaning in Bend, Oregon. I fared very well, soon dominating the local industry. As public interest for indoor air quality became more prevalent, my customers regularly approached me, asking if I provided duct cleaning or if I could recommend somebody who did. This further renewed my interest in adding duct cleaning to my service menu.
The available options were cumbersome, expensive, ineffective and had the potential for damaging the ducts. I knew there had to be a better way, and there was, of course.
The Wow Factor
Duct cleaning isn’t rocket science, it’s basically turning dirty tubes into clean tubes. However, a duct cleaning system absolutely needs airflow. I chose to harness the power of the air mover that’s already mounted in every building — the air handler.
Finally, to supply the visual “wow factor,” I designed a clear, polycarbonate box through which all the dust and debris would pass as it stormed out of the duct system and into the HEPA vacuum. As a final touch, to showcase the debris being removed, LED lights were added. My customers, both residential and commercial, absolutely loved the results. Referrals for duct cleaning began pouring in.
Guarantee Cleaning Services is now focused solely on duct cleaning. This system is used in residential, commercial, disaster, forensic restoration and even meth decontamination.
As for the system I designed, it is now being used in every major city in the United States and 21 foreign countries. This system is used to clean ducts in homes, businesses, skyscrapers, hospitals, shopping malls… all types of buildings including state prisons.
With the demand for duct cleaning is skyrocketing, it’s time for you to think about how you can add duct cleaning to your HVAC business as a service.
COVID-19 & Dirty Ducts
Surely, you’re joking. Add another service to my HVAC business during a pandemic?
The truth is, it has always been a great time to add duct cleaning to your existing HVAC contracting business. But now is the perfect time. Our global population has never been more motivated to clean their homes, businesses, and ask about indoor air quality. As a result, the demand for HVAC duct cleaning is going absolutely gangbusters, launching the industry to unprecedented heights. Although this new demand has only just started, rest assure that this new demand for duct cleaning is only the beginning.
As of the writing of this article, it has only been a few months since the coronavirus pandemic has completely stopped the world. Up until the day of that announcement, nobody gave a second thought about shaking hands with anybody and everybody they met; we packed entertainment venues and public transportation; we even crammed together like sardines to enjoy concerts and had a blast while doing it.
Fast forward to today. Right now, you’ll get a dirty look at the mini-mart if you stand five (instead of a good, solid six) feet away from someone. Heaven forbid you attempt to shake somebody’s hand. Only the bravest even dare to bump elbows in lieu of a handshake. We’ve officially been conditioned.
One thing is sure: Things will never be the same. We will wash our hands more frequently and thoroughly, businesses that cater to the public will always be more disinfect-conscious, and clean is the new cool.
Matthew Hill is the owner of Tech Guy Heating & Cooling in Seymour, Indiana. Impressed with Tech Guy’s reputation in his area, and the fact that they recently added duct cleaning to their services, I took the opportunity to reach out to him and pick his brain.
When asked if it has been a benefit to his company to add duct cleaning as a service, his response was reassuring.
“Oh definitely! We’re not doing any marketing for duct cleaning, and we’re staying swamped by referrals alone. We can bundle it into the service, saving our customers from having to call a separate duct cleaning company — some of whom are our HVAC business competitors.”
When it comes to finances, duct cleaning is a good way to increase revenue during the slow season. “It has helped in so many categories,” says Hill, and it can help you, too. “It only makes sense for us to provide duct cleaning; we’re already at the home, addressing their HVAC system.”
He adds, “You’re already servicing the system. Why not offer the other solution. If you don’t offer duct cleaning, you’re missing out.”
Established in 1972, Pinkerton Heating & Cooling is a well-established, highly respected, full-service HVAC company who added duct cleaning to their services in 2018. I reached out to them to get some feedback on their experience with that service addition.
“The reason we decided to add duct cleaning to our company was to keep our guys busy during the slow season, but we find that we’re also adding a duct cleaning ticket to a lot of new installations,” says logistics manager Joel Burger. “The reason we’re doing it with new installations, is people want to get all that junk out so they’re not putting it through their brand new furnace.”
I asked him if his field technicians were approaching customers with getting their ducts cleaned.
“A lot of times when we send technicians out, they’re noticing stuff that’s in the filter that shouldn’t be in there like drywall, screws and/or junk in the ducts themselves. That indicates that they’ve done some sort of a remodel, in which case the ducts need to be cleaned,” explains Burger. “We recommend having it done every 5-7 years, but if they’ve done a remodel, they should get the system cleaned, to get out the extra crud. It puts a lot of stress on the blower motor, because the static pressure always goes up when you have a lot of junk down in there.”
As for how many duct cleanings Pinkerton performs on average, Burger says that they do at least four duct cleanings per day at their Columbus, Ohio, location.
Burger adds, in addition to offering duct cleaning as a lucrative add-on service, at times they offer the duct cleaning for no additional charge in order to lock in a new install job: “It’s a no-brainer that positions us above our competition.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of SNIPS.