Air duct cleaning is designed to remove air-borne dust and debris from the air duct system components of HVAC, forced air systems, gravity heaters and other related systems, but how can a homeowner tell if it's necessary?
Dave Adams, who owns Alpine Group in Indianapolis, said there are a couple of ways to tell if air 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," Adams said. "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."
Angie Hicks, with Angie's List, says homeowners should beware of bait-and-switch tactics that advertise an unbelievably low rate and then immediately start tacking on up-charges or using scare tactics.
"One of the more common things that we hear about with air duct cleaning comes down to pricing," Hicks said. "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.
"A typical air duct cleaning might cost anywhere from $300 to $500. If you find you're being offered a really low price, you're going to want to question it."
It's also important to hire a qualified contractor that follows standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.
An unqualified contractor could cause more problems -- particles could be broken up and released into the home or the HVAC system could be damaged.
There is no scientific evidence that regular duct cleaning improves air quality, but some consumers have reported that when they have their ducts cleaned, they experience fewer allergy symptoms and cleaner air.
Adam Ketterman says he suffered from a nagging, dry cough after some drywall work created a lot of dust in his home. He scheduled an air duct cleaning and immediately felt his symptoms improve.
"I did feel a lot better physically right after the duct cleaning, like within two to three days," Ketterman said. "I noticed it was like flipping a switch, so I was kind of excited about that."