When you’re comparing home service companies, what do you look for? If you use the Best Pick Reports guide, you can be confident that all of the companies you consider will be licensed and insured according to state requirements. But what else is important?

In many cases, a company’s membership in professional or industry organizations is a sign of a business that is engaged and knowledgeable about current industry standards and trends. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) is the leading industry organization in the field of air duct and HVAC system cleaning, and the group’s first priority is the reliability and professionalism of their industry.

Interested in learning more about NADCA and how it benefits companies as well as homeowners? Keep reading!

What Is the National Air Duct Cleaners Association?

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association was founded in 1989 in Kansas City, Missouri. Its mission is to “promote source removal as the only acceptable method of cleaning, establish industry standards for the association … and represent qualified companies engaged in the inspection, cleaning, and restoration of HVAC systems.”

The organization’s numbers have grown from 25 people in its founding year to over 1,000 duct cleaning companies today. NADCA continues to value their core principles of creating and updating standards and lowering the number of scams in the industry.

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Why Should You Choose NADCA-Certified Air Duct Cleaners?

Close-up image of dirty air filterThe short answer: They won’t scam you.

Duct cleaning scams—companies that briefly swipe your heating and air vents with a vacuum cleaner and then insist that there is mold in your ductwork—were more prevalent before NADCA was founded, but some disreputable companies still try to cheat their customers.

How do you know if you’re being scammed? Here are a few clues:

  • The company charges a significantly lower fee than its competitors.
  • The technicians apply “treatments” or perform additional work without fully explaining why it’s needed or asking your permission.
  • The technicians claim that your ductwork is moldy and pressure you to have the mold treated immediately. They may even show you a positive mold test. If you didn’t see the technicians open and use the mold testing kit, however, be wary of their claims.
  • The company claims to be NADCA certified but is not listed in NADCA’s member directory.

Your best bet is to choose a certified Best Pick duct cleaning company or a company that has been certified by NADCA. Want the best, most reliable service? Look for both certifications!

How are NADCA-Certified Companies Different?

Accumulated dirt and debris on inside of air vent coverNADCA-certified companies believe that source removal is the only appropriate means of cleaning ductwork. This means that they employ a two-pronged cleaning approach:

  1. Loosen any contaminants
  2. Collect and remove contaminants

One of the most important steps to duct cleaning that works is ensuring that a vacuum (also referred to as negative pressure) is created through the entire HVAC system before any cleaning begins. Duct cleaning technicians will use a variety of tools to brush loose any dust, dirt, and other allergens in the ductwork and HVAC system. Negative pressure ensures that this debris goes directly into the collection device instead of being redistributed around the house.

Your duct cleaning technicians should access as much of the interior of your home’s ductwork as possible for a thorough clean. In most cases, this can be done exclusively through the supply and return vents, duct end caps, and other existing access points.

Some homes, however, have complex duct systems that require the technicians to create additional access points in order to reach all of the ductwork. While allowing someone to cut a hole in your ductwork may sound like a terrible idea, rest assured that NADCA-certified duct cleaning technicians have the skill and tools to create and seal those holes correctly.

Also keep in mind that professional, NADCA-certified duct cleaners will not do anything without your knowledge and consent. If you aren’t sure about a service or treatment the technician recommends, it’s OK to decline.

NADCA standards are updated every few years based on new technology, real-life experience, and progress in the industry. If you’re interested in the current standards, you can find a fact sheet about the NADCA Standard for Assessment, Cleaning, and Restoration of HVAC Systems (ACR) on their website as well as a PDF of the most recent ACR, published in 2013.

What Do Professionals Gain by Becoming Members?

Close-up image of hands taking notes on clipboardTraining programs

NADCA offers a variety of training programs to help members provide specialized services to their customers. These programs create a national standard that ensures members know and understand proper maintenance practices.

The Air Systems Cleaning Specialist (ASCS) certification demonstrates that the certified individual has demonstrated advanced knowledge of how to keep an HVAC system clean and working properly. Members must maintain this certification with yearly Continuing Education Credits.

The Certified Ventilation Inspection (CVI) certification is available to individuals who already hold the ASCS certification. The CVI certification demonstrates superior ability in HVAC system inspection, and it also qualifies the certified individual to inspect commercial HVAC systems. This certification is valid for three years.

The Ventilation Maintenance Technician (VMT) program is offered to new technicians. This online course brings newbies up to speed and ensures that they understand the most important parts of cleaning HVAC systems.

Knowledge share

A significant benefit of membership in professional organizations is the ability to network and share updated industry standards and best practices with other members. NADCA offers online training courses and webinars as well as in-person training sessions at their annual meeting and fall technical conference.

NADCA facilitates a member mentorship program and also publishes a magazine and a monthly newsletter to maintain frequent communication to member companies and share current industry news and trends.

When you hire an air duct cleaning company that holds a NADCA certification, you’re not relying solely on the training and knowledge of one person—you benefit from the expertise of an entire organization of people committed to indoor air quality.

The Bottom Line

Air duct cleaning is not an easy task, but it is important, and the benefits are numerous. The next time your air ducts need to be cleaned, ask the companies you interview whether they have NADCA-certified employees on staff.

NADCA members are trained on current best practices, they care about the quality and integrity of the industry, and they want to ensure that you get the best service and value for your investment.

Your home is your haven, and you want your living space to be as clean, healthy, and comfortable as possible. Clean air ducts are key to clean indoor air, which is one of the most important attributes for your home to have. If you think your air isn’t quite as clean as it should be, you’re probably right. Even the most up-to-date systems will need cleaning at some point, but air duct cleaning is especially important if you’ve recently renovated your home, had water damage, or if anyone in your home smokes. 

Look for a local Best Pick duct cleaner with NADCA-certified technicians on staff to get reliable, thorough, and efficient service.