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Find a heating and air conditioning specialist near you

12 near you

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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a HVAC technician during the COVID-19 pandemic?

To set up a safe consultation or appointment with an HVAC technician during the COVID-19 pandemic, start by comparing technicians in your area in an online search. Message or call technicians to ask whether they can perform a consultation over the phone or even over a video call. This way, they can assess the problem without increasing the risk of virus transmission by visiting your house. 

If it turns out the service is essential, you’ll need to follow CDC guidelines as well as local government guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety.

Do you need to clean your air ducts?

Air duct cleaning is done by heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals. The pros use industrial-strength, truck-mounted vacuums and powerful brushes and hoses to clean inside the metal ducts that make up your forced air heating and cooling system. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends duct cleaning if there is “substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface ducts, ducts that are infested with vermin such as rodents or insects, or ducts that are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.”

You should also have air ducts cleaned after recent water contamination or water damage to prevent mold; after renovations or remodeling to ensure debris and dust didn’t settle in the vents and ducts; if you are having problems with allergies or asthma; or when you are moving into a newly purchased home, especially if the previous owners smoked or had pets. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends getting your air ducts cleaned every three to five years, or every two to three years in regions where homeowners use their air conditioning and heater for many months of the year, while the EPA suggests homeowners have duct cleaning done as needed.

How often should you get your air ducts cleaned?

How often you should clean your air ducts depends on your situation. If you or someone in the home has asthma or is acutely allergic to certain airborne materials or pollen, regular duct cleaning may be helpful. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have an official position on the necessity of air duct cleaning unless the ducts have been contaminated by rodents, insects or mold, or you are aware of particles blowing out through the vents. The EPA recommends you have your air ducts cleaned on an as-needed basis. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) suggests having air ducts cleaned every three to five years.

Be cautious with companies that offer “whole house air duct cleaning,” urges the NADCA. The company may be using unscrupulous tactics to upsell you once they get started. Before any work begins, always clarify in writing what the job entails and what the cost will be. To protect yourself against fraud, read customer reviews and verify that your HVAC cleaning service has applicable licenses and certifications.

Can I install central air myself?

While you may be able to do some preparation work for central air installation, you should hire a licensed contractor to complete the project and handle the air conditioning refrigerants. 

Also, unless you have the proper credentials, you risk making common mistakes when installing central air. This may include installing the wrong-size furnace, improperly installing ductwork and exhaust systems, and incorrectly managing drainage.

To ensure your central air is installed correctly, contact the best HVAC pros near you and start getting free estimates today.

Is it worth it to install central air?

Depending on where you live, it might be worth it to install central air. Central air makes your house comfortable on hot summer days. And although it’s hard to predict if adding central air will increase your home’s value, prospective homebuyers will certainly notice if it’s missing.

Another advantage of central air is that it can help dehumidify your home. Not only will it make your home more comfortable and enjoyable, but it can also  help prevent mold from growing or spreading.

Contact the best HVAC contractors near you to learn more about the central air installation process and to start receiving free estimates.

How can I find out if an HVAC technician is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?

Currently, governments on both the federal and local levels are updating guidelines on what qualifies as an essential service. To see whether an HVAC technician is considered an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic, check your city or state’s government website. 

For federal guidelines, check CISA’s Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 page, which identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors during the crisis. But note that not all jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.

How do I find a good HVAC or AC contractor?

Performing an online search is the quickest way to locate the best HVAC or AC contractors near you. This makes it easier to view multiple top-rated pros quickly and efficiently.

Start by looking at the contractors’ ratings and reading the customer reviews. Pay attention to reviews that mention details about the HVAC contractors’ quality of work. Did they complete the job on time? Did they overcharge? Were they communicative with the customer throughout the process? 

You should also review any photos of past projects that customers (or pros) may have uploaded. Looking at before-and-after photos of air conditioners and HVAC systems will give you a good idea of how skilled the contractors are.

Next, check whether your state or city requires HVAC and AC professionals to be licensed. If so, anyone you work with should comply with these requirements. 

Once you’ve chosen a few potential contractors, ask for free estimates. Compare their quotes, and choose a HVAC contractor who is qualified, affordable and reputable.

Does central air add value to a home?

A central air unit or HVAC system may add value to your home. Or, if you’re in the process of selling your home, it may help you close a sale.

The Remodeling Impact report found that 20% of realtors have suggested that home sellers replace their HVAC before attempting to sell their homes, and 7% said this project did help close a sale. 

Talk with an expert to figure out if adding an HVAC system is a good idea for your home. And contact the best HVAC pros near you to get free estimates so you’ll know how much this project will cost you.

How much does it cost to have your air ducts cleaned?

If you’re concerned about dust, allergens or mold, it may be time to have your air ducts cleaned. The national average cost for air duct cleaning ranges from $190 to $250. Air duct cleaning costs will vary based on a number of factors such as your location in the country, the age and condition of your air ducts, the number of linear feet to be cleaned, and any repairs your ducts may need. HVAC cleaning companies should clearly outline what is included in their services and at what rate, so always make sure you understand and have a written agreement before work begins. Here are some examples of average air duct cleaning costs:

  • Tiered pricing for different levels of service:
    • Standard cleaning: $100, which may include truck-mounted industrial vacuums, high-pressure air wands and air snakes to clean all supply and return vents, branch lines, and main trunk lines.
    • Advanced cleaning: $200, which may include standard cleaning services, plus rotobrush or viper clean sweep in the main trunk lines.
    • Ultimate cleaning: $400, which may include advanced cleaning, plus insertion of a viper microline into all vents to force debris down the branch lines and into the main trunk lines, to be handled by the viper clean sweep. Typically, all ductwork surface is contacted, before-and-after photos are provided, and the furnace is cleaned.
  • A flat rate for unlimited vents: $289.
  • Additional fees for larger houses: $20 for each additional 500 square feet over 2,500.

How long does it take to get your ducts cleaned?

The amount of time air duct cleaning takes can depend on how extensive your duct system is, how old your air ducts are, and whether they have ever been cleaned. On average, expect a standard size home (between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet) to take 2-5 hours for one to two technicians to clean. Here are the proper protocol and equipment you should expect from a professional duct cleaning service, as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • All doors and access ports opened to ensure the entire duct system is inspected and cleaned.
  • Thorough system inspection prior to cleaning to identify possible asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is present, specially trained and equipped contractors must do the removal.
  • Use of approved vacuum equipment that exhausts particles outside of your house. If the vacuum exhausts inside your home, it must be HEPA equipment.
  • Furnishings and carpet covered and protected.
  • Soft-bristled brushes only on fiberglass duct board and sheet metal ducts internally lined with fiberglass.
  • Ductwork properly protected.
  • Adherence to guidelines and practices set down by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.
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