Close-up: An inside look at the air duct cleaning industry


Based on reader feedback, the editors at CM/Cleanfax are taking a look at the air duct cleaning industry. To get the inside scoop, they contacted the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.

Although the industry has been around for many years, the term “air duct cleaning” is really a bit of a misnomer. Those in the know realize the need for comprehensive “HVAC system cleaning.” In fact, at their 2008 annual meeting in March, members of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association took a dramatic step toward re-shaping their organization as “NADCA — The HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association.”

Contractors who started out as air duct cleaners 20 years ago are now experts in this broader range of services. This identity-altering event speaks volumes about the phenomenal growth and maturation of the “air duct cleaning” industry.

In a 2005 report prepared for the U.S. EPA, researcher Hal Levin estimated the domestic air duct cleaning industry at $4 billion in annual sales revenue. In that same study, Levin estimated “Building Remediation for Indoor Air Quality” (primarily for HVAC systems) at another $3.4 billion annually. With its expanded scope, members of NADCA have nearly doubled the size of their industry – just by looking at their industry with a clearer vision.

People who suffer from allergy or asthma tend to be more sensitive to poor air quality and have long appreciated the benefits of HVAC cleaning. This group represents the original drivers in the industry, along with consumers who purchase HVAC cleaning services simply “because it’s dirty” and want a clean home. Around 2001, mold captured media headlines and focused attention on the need for better indoor air quality. HVAC systems – the “lungs” of a building – are the focal point for indoor air quality. As a result, the industry experienced tremendous growth.

Looking ahead, with crude oil prices topping $100 a barrel and likely headed higher, society is engulfed in a new environmental movement that picks up where the 1970s left off. Terms like “reducing carbon footprints” and “energy conservation” are ubiquitous in today’s media. Given that professionally cleaned and maintained HVAC systems can save an estimated 30 percent of energy costs attributed to HVAC systems (the largest source of energy consumption in U.S. buildings), industry experts believe the desire for energy efficiency will soon surpass IAQ as the primary driver for the industry. For those who possess the knowledge, skill and wherewithal required to do the job right, the market for HVAC inspection, maintenance and restoration presents a rapidly-growing opportunity.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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