How to Start an Air Duct Cleaning Company

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A series of ventilation ducts.
A series of ventilation ducts. (Image: SOMATUSCANI/iStock/Getty Images)

Tap into the health-conscious and commercial real estate markets to build a successful air duct cleaning company. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the service is needed for a number of conditions ranging from the potential of mold development to rodent infestations. Start an air duct cleaning business by getting the proper training, effective credentials, cleaning equipment and a thorough marketing plan.

Get Trained and Certified

Spend a couple years training under an experienced air duct cleaner as an apprentice before going out on your own, or take courses that teach you about heating and air conditioning ductwork systems. You can earn a basic certificate in six months or a two-year associate degree at your local community college. An online course to earn certification from the National Air Duct Cleaners Association is $395 for members and $595 for non-members. With membership, which costs $825 per year, you are also listed on its national registry. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends consumers hire cleaners from that registry.

Purchase Tools and Equipment

Acquire the equipment needed to properly inspect and then clean the ducts. Truck-mounted vacuum systems will considerably increase your start-up costs, but portable models can be had for more moderate prices. A complete portable vacuum system with cameras to check for mold or vermin can cost more than $7,000. Or you can accumulate hand tools for much less -- under $1,000 -- and add on to your inventory as your business grows. The basic hand tools you need include access equipment to open the ducts for inspection and cleaning, brushes and agitation devices, a hand-held mirror that periscopes around curves and a hand-held vacuum.

Buy a Ready-Made Franchise

Like many consumer services, there are a number of air-duct cleaning franchises you can purchase. The advantage of buying a franchise is that you can rely on the experience and reputation of an existing business to ensure you have the necessary tools to do the job properly. Franchises offer training because they want their companies to provide a uniform service. With a franchise, you’ll get ready-made name recognition as well as marketing support.

Create Partnerships to Grow Your Business

While advertising and website development are important features to include in your marketing strategy, it’s the references you get from previous clients and industry professionals that could tip the scales of success in your favor. Real estate agents need you to inspect and clean the ducts in houses of residential and commercial clients before they sell, especially if there is mold remediation involved. Build a reputation among property managers to gain support from the community. Heating contractors also will pass on your name to their clients when they don’t want to do the follow-up maintenance on systems they install.

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