Ducted cooling and heating systems are installed in about 90% of new homes in the United States. Unfortunately, many of these homes lose 25% - 40% of their cooling and heating energy due to the improper installation and maintenance of these ductworks. Improperly installing and maintaining ductwork can also lead to the build-up of contaminants and hazardous substances like dirt, debris, and mold that have the potential to cause serious health problems.
As such, ductwork installation and maintenance should always be handled by a professional contractor nearby. Doing this ensures that the job is done in line with the United States Department of Labor's occupational safety regulations and respiratory protection standards. Hiring a professional ductwork contractor instead of attempting to install or fix your ductwork by yourself also limits the possibility of work-related injuries occurring. In 2019, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 1,730 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses and 6 fatal occupational injuries amongst sheet metal workers.
The following questions have been carefully curated to help you hire the most qualified professional ductwork contractor near you:
Are You a Licensed Ductwork Contractor?
It is always a good idea to hire licensed ductwork contractors. A licensed ductwork contractor is trained to help you achieve long-term energy efficiency and higher indoor air quality using standard sealing techniques. The licensing requirements for carrying out duct work vary by state. Sometimes, these licenses are referred to by different names. For example, the States of California, Oklahoma, and Connecticut require ductwork contractors to obtain what is known as a sheet metal workers license, while in Maryland the license issued to ductwork contractors is known as a mechanical contractor's license. However, in North Dakota, you are only required to obtain a general contractor's license for projects that are worth more than $4,000.
Note that if your home was built before 1978 and installation or maintenance of ductwork may disturb your home's paint, then your contractor is mandatorily required to have an EPA-issued certification on lead-safe work practices.
Due to these varying requirements, it is advisable to always find out the specific licensing requirements for your locality before hiring a ductwork contractor. You can do this by contacting the local consumer protection office near you. You can also verify the license numbers of ductwork contractors through the licensing information website operated and maintained by the National Association of State Contractor's Licensing Agencies.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Ductwork Contractor?
Every occupation has its share of risks. A report published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2019 estimated that a worker died from a work-related injury every 99 minutes, with a total of 5,333 fatal occupational injuries occurring that year. To minimize your financial exposure during the installation or maintenance of your home's ductwork, you should always hire a ductwork contractor that is insured and bonded.
Hiring an insured ductwork contractor near you ensures that there are no financial liabilities to you if an injury or fatality occurs either during or as a result of the ductwork installation or maintenance. Hiring a ductwork contractor that is also bonded provides you with a guarantee that you will be duly compensated if the contractor defaults on the project for any reason.
Always insist on seeing proof of a ductwork contractor's insurance and bonding. These are usually in the form of insurance and bonding certificates, and you can contact the organizations that issued them to verify their validity. Licensed contractors are generally required to have general liability and workers' compensation insurance. Many states also have minimum bond requirements for contractors. This amount varies, but it is usually not less than $5,000. As such, you should contact your local consumer protection agency to find out whether there are any bond requirements for ductworks contractors in your state and what these requirements are.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
Knowing the type of duct system that a ductwork contractor specializes in helps you in making your decision when it comes to hiring a professional ductwork contractor. Duct systems can be divided into two major groups; Flexible Ductwork and Rigid Ductwork. Rigid ductwork can be further divided into three types namely Sheet Metal Ducts, Fiberglass-lined Ducts, and Fiberboard Ducts.
- Flexible Ductwork: These types of ducts are made from flexible and durable plastic that has been reinforced with wires or metallic meshes. Flexible ducts are typically easier to install than other types of ducts and they are also generally cheaper. Flexible ducts are the best types of ducts to install in tight spaces and they are more resistant to mold and rust than the other types of ducts. However, they are also more susceptible to punctures and airflow blockage due to their flexible nature.
- Sheet Metal Ducts: Sheet metal ducts are the most common types of ducts. These types of ducts are usually made of aluminum or galvanized steel. They are generally easy to install and their nonporous nature makes them mold-resistant. Sheet metal ducts are typically more durable than the other types of ducts. However, they are also more prone to leakage, especially in the areas where two sections are joined.
- Fiberboard Ducts: These types of ducts are made of fiberglass strands and fibers that have been compressed and sealed. A foil covering is usually added to the exterior of these fiberboards for insulation, as such, these types of ducts do not usually require additional insulation. Fiberboard ducts are generally the cheapest types of ducts. However, they are prone to mildew and mold growth.
- Fiberglass-lined Ducts: Fiberglass-lined ducts are sheet metal ducts that have been lined with fiberglass. This lining can be done inside or outside the duct, and it provides insulation to the duct. Fiberglass-lined ducts are typically used in commercial and office buildings because of their sound-muffling abilities. They are however difficult to maintain and are prone to mildew, mold, and bacteria growth.
Even though many professional ductwork contractors are skilled enough to handle all four types of ducts, you should never make this assumption. Always ask ductwork contractors the type of duct materials they are specialized in handling. This helps you hire a good contractor near you that is capable of handling the type of duct system you intend to install or maintain.
Who Will Do the Work?
Having strangers come in and out of your home can be unsettling, even if they are technically working for you. One way you can allay this fear is by asking your ductwork contractor to provide you with details on all the workers that will be involved in your duct work. Asking this question not only provides you with a level of security but also helps you make sure that any extra worker involved in the job is adequately qualified to handle it. Always make sure that any additional worker or subcontractor involved in your duct work is properly licensed, bonded, and insured per the requirements of your area of residence. It is also a good idea to find out whether the involvement of any of these additional workers or subcontractors would affect your bill at the end of the job.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
Any professional ductwork contractor will usually issue you a warranty of labor or workmanship after the completion of the duct work. This warranty is a guarantee that lets you know that high-quality materials were used for the job and that the job was done in the best way possible.
Warranties are usually valid under very specific conditions. For example, many ductwork workmanship warranties will cover the maintenance of all installed ductwork for the period of its validity, as long as a different ductwork contractor does not carry out any work on it.
You should always hire a ductwork contractor near you that offers you a warranty for any work done. It is also advisable to get this warranty in writing with all its terms and conditions stated clearly.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
A permit is an official government approval that is required for some types of home improvement jobs. The requirements for obtaining these permits are usually dependent on the area where the home improvement is taking place, and commencing a project without obtaining the required permits can result in serious penalties.
Permits are usually only required for construction, remodeling, or renovation jobs that will have a significant effect on the structure or footprint of your home. As such, the type of duct work that you wish to carry out will determine whether you need to obtain a permit or not. For example, you will very likely need to obtain a permit to install or replace the ductwork in your home. However, you may not need a permit for duct cleaning.
One reason why you should always hire a professional ductwork contractor near you is that these contractors generally know the kinds of duct work that require permits in your area. Nevertheless, it is advisable that you find out the ductwork permit requirements for your area of residence for yourself before commencing any duct work. You can do this by contacting your local building department.
Will You Provide References?
One of the recommendations of the Federal Trade Commission for hiring contractors is asking for the contact information of at least three customers that the contractor has successfully carried out a similar project for. A professional ductwork contractor will readily do this and may also include pictures of completed jobs. Any ductwork contractor that hesitates to provide you with a list of references should be stricken from your list of potential contractors.
Note that several third-party websites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau and Google Review also allow you to seek out independent reviews on contractors.
Do You Have a Business License?
In the United States, any business that employs less than 500 people is referred to as a small business. According to the Small Business Administration, these types of businesses make up 99.9% of all businesses in the country. One of the requirements for conducting business in the United States is registration, after which the registered business entity will be issued a business license.
When a ductwork contractor has a business license, it means that the contractor is legally authorized to operate in a particular area. In many cases, ductwork contractors that have valid business licenses behave more professionally than unlicensed contractors. They also generally tend to meet all the other necessary ductwork contracting requirements for the area where they are located. Before hiring any ductwork contractor near you, request for a copy of the contractor's business license or the contractor's business license number and confirm its authenticity with your local Secretary of State's office.
What Are Common Ductwork Problems?
The most commonly reported ductwork problems are:
- Leaking ductwork
- Improper design
- Poor insulation
- Dirty air ducts
- Inadequate airflow
- Twisted, torn, or crushed ducts
- Poorly sealed registers and grills
- Strange odors
- Mold and mildew growth
How Much Does Duct Work Cost?
The average cost for duct work in the United States is $1,000 - $3,000. The exact amount that you end up paying for duct work depends on the type of work that has to be done, the size of your home, and the type of duct material used. Therefore, you can end up paying as low as $450 or as high as $4,000. Some common duct work estimates are listed below:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Duct Work?
The main factor that affects the cost of duct work is the type of work to be done. Simple maintenance jobs like air duct cleaning will cost you less than replacing old ductwork while installing ductwork in a home that is still being constructed will cost you less than installing it in an already finished home. The type of duct material you use for your duct work also affects its price. Fibreboard and flexible duct materials are generally cheaper than sheet metal materials. Finally, the size of your home also determines the quantity of materials that will be required for the job and the amount of labor required for it. This invariably affects the total cost of your duct work. Travel expense, material carriage fee and other logistics costs that are determined by distance will also impact the total cost of a ductwork. Hence, it is advisable to hire a contractor near you.
What Qualifications Should Ductwork Contractors Have?
Ductwork contractors are generally required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent at the very least. Many individuals that wish to become ductwork contractors attend technical schools where they acquire basic welding, blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, and sheet metal fabrication knowledge. It is estimated that there are over 131,000 employed sheet metal workers in the United States. Many ductwork contractors also undergo on the job training after being employed. In some cases, contracting firms enter partnerships with local technical schools to develop specific training programs for their employees.
Ductwork contractors that wish to work on homes and other occupied facilities built before 1978 are required to undergo a mandatory lead-safe work practices training and certification course with the Environmental Protection Agency. Professional ductwork contractors also can obtain voluntary certifications from trade associations like the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International, the American Welding Society, and the International Certification Board.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Ductwork Contractor?
Professional ductwork contractors have been specifically trained and licensed by relevant governmental bodies to install and maintain ductwork in residential and commercial buildings. On the other hand, handymen are generally jacks of all trades that are better suited at handling odd jobs and minor household repairs. Therefore, you should always hire a professional ductwork contractor near you to handle any duct work in your home. Professional ductwork contractors also have the advantage of being bonded and insured, thereby protecting your finances in the event of unforeseen circumstances like a workplace injury. Note that you should never hire a contractor without verifying the contractor's license, insurance, and bonding.
What Are the Common Post Duct Work Expenses?
The most common post duct work installation or replacement expense is the cost of maintaining your duct system. In many cases, this usually involves cleaning your air ducts and vents and sealing any leakages. Some professional ductwork contractors provide this service in their warranties for a specified period after duct system installations. Ask your contractor whether they also provide post-installation maintenance services and if it would cost you extra. Air duct and vent cleaning typically cost between $350 and $450, while duct sealing costs $250 - $300.
Another common post duct work expense is the addition of extra materials like duct armor. Duct armor is a rubberized liner that helps prevent air leaks from your ducts. It also reduces the transmission of dust and other allergens through the ducts. Adding duct armor to your ductwork will cost you between $2,000 and $8,000.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Ductwork Expenses?
Many homeowners' insurance policies do not cover the cost of installing new ductwork, or replacing, cleaning, and repairing an old duct system under normal circumstances. This is because these actions are typically considered maintenance actions. However, if your ductwork is damaged as a result of a peril that is listed in your homeowner's insurance policy, then your insurance company may cover your ductwork expenses. A sudden fire outbreak in your home is a common example of a covered peril. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that over 90% of all homeowners insurance claims are a result of property damage, including theft.
Note that insurance companies differ, and so do their insurance coverages. Therefore, you should always request for, and properly understand, a comprehensive list of the perils that an insurance company covers before purchasing an insurance policy from them.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Ductwork Contractor?
Yes, you can use digital channels to pay for your duct work. Many professional contractors accept payments made through digital channels because they are considerably more convenient, secure, and faster than other methods of payments. They also provide instantaneous receipts, which is helpful for record-keeping purposes. However, some ductwork contractors may prefer to receive their payment via cash or checks. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask contractors their preferred method of payment before they begin working. You should also make sure that your contractor issues you a receipt for every cash transaction you carry out.