Author - Wayne Tracy

Scope Of Work by: Wayne Tracy

Wayne's Wisdom


When a contractor is asked to quote work in most trades he is provided with a Scope of Work.  This document provides specifications and details of what is required and where the work is performed.  More often than not, you’ll be asked to provide a quote for Air System Cleaning , but given no details about the extent of work to be done.  Most property owners/managers don’t know what to ask for or fully understand the levels of services we can offer.  If the work is going out for bid, this can lead to a very unfair bidding environment.  You may quote cleaning of ducts, air handlers, sanitizing and deodorizing (a full service cleaning), while your competitor only quotes cleaning of the air ducts.

An uneducated customer may award the bid solely on price.  It’s important you fully explain to your customer how bidding can be very different from one contractor to the other.  Educate them in the level of services you can offer so he is sure to give fair consideration to any bid he receives and understand the differences. If you are not given a Scope of Work, which will be the case in most instances, offer your customer a generic scope of work.

At the end of this article is a sample of a Scope of Work we use in our own service department on a daily basis.  This is very generic and gives the standards for a full service cleaning in most building types.  I’ve red lettered the areas on this quote you need to change to apply it to your company.  Simply load it in a Microsoft Word document and change it any way you like to fit your business and the job you’re quoting.


Air Duct Cleaning & Subcontracting

Are you a contractor or a sub-contractor? You should be both!

We are all contractors of one type or another but are you also a
sub-contractor? If not, you’re missing out on a great source of potential income with virtually no cost associated with it. Most everyone in business networks with other companies, friends, business associates and even family – but that usually results only in occasional referral business.

By working on relationships with HVAC contractors, property management companies, restoration companies, etc., and giving them a chance to profit from selling a job for you, you’ll find you get much better results than what a referral business will bring you.

You usually have to invest 10 to 20% of your gross income on advertising to attract business. By passing this savings onto the company you sub-contract to, they make a fair profit with little investment on their part. Remarkably you still make the same profit on the jobs you do for them, because no advertising dollars were needed to attract this work.

We offer our contractors a 20% discount off the price we would normally charge a residential customer. On a $650.00 full service duct cleaning job we charge them $520.00; that’s a clean profit for them of $130.00 with virtually no costs associated with it. We do give up some profit, but we do not have to invest in expensive media ads to earn this business. Most of our contractors will offer their field employees a spiff for any duct cleaning jobs they sell. You can have a massive sales force selling your business with no payroll.

In other words, they sell the job, call you to get it scheduled and you take care of it from there. Once they put it in your hands, it’s up to you to be sure to provide prompt, quality service. Like any job you must always satisfy the customer – now you have 2 customers to satisfy for the same job; the homeowner and the contractor.

It takes a little time to find and develop these relationships, however, once you do you’ll find it can easily add 20 to 30% to your annual business volume. It’s also important to be sure you get your contractor’s referrals from your customer base and contacts. In other words take good care of those who take care of you.

Commercial Duct Cleaning, Who Are The Customers?

Wayne's Wisdom

by: Wayne Tracy

One question I’m frequently asked is “How do I get commercial duct cleaning jobs?”  The following is a summary of what needs to be done to be successful in developing commercial work.

Potential customers are not only building owners and managers, but other contractors providing services to commercial buildings.  The following is a list of contractors to contact so they can refer work to you or you can provide services for them as a sub-contractor.

  1. HVAC Contractors
  2. Property Management Companies
  3. Real Estate Brokers
  4. Janitorial Companies
  5. Restoration Companies (Water, fire & other disaster clean-up companies)
  6. Architects & Engineers
  7. Construction Companies
  8. Industrial Hygienists, Mold Testing Companies, & Air Quality Testing Companies
  9. Business Consulting & Management Companies

The following is a list of business types that potentially will need air duct cleaning services.

  1. Hospitals, Medical Offices, Emergency Centers, etc.
  2. Office Buildings
  3. Retail Establishments
  4. Banks
  5. Laundry Centers
  6. Manufacturing Facilities
  7. Restaurants
  8. Virtually any building that has ducting

The next step is to come up with a plan to contact these customers.  Listed below are some options.

  1. Purchase e-mail and postal addresses for reaching each group of contractors or business types you want to start contacting.
  2. Create a form letter or e-mail to send to each group.  Make sure the letter or e-mail addresses that group and potential concerns that each individual group may have as it relates to their needs.
  3. Purchase a list of phone numbers for each group.  I would not recommend you do a telemarketing campaign, but use the list to contact members of each group to set up appointments to personally visit each one individually.
  4. Network – Use existing contacts to help you make contacts with people they may know in these groups.  Most communities have networking groups where business people meet on a regular basis to share ideas and contacts.
  5. Being an active member in your local Chamber of Commerce, community service groups (Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc.) can also help you meet business people, as well as serve your community.
  6. Advertising can help you get your message out to the business community, especially in local trade publications.

Regardless of what means you use to contact potential customers, you cannot simply send a letter and expect to get a job from it.  You must follow-up on each and every contact you attempt with a phone call and personal visit to that company.  This will take some effort on your part, so don’t attempt to contact every business type in one attempt.  Keep the numbers manageable based on your available time.

Once you initiate contact or even meet with a potential customer you must have a follow-up system.  You’ll want to have some type of communication with each potential customer three or four times per year.  This does not have to be a one on one meeting, but simply a phone call, letter, e-mail, etc.  The more you put your company name in front of each contact, the more apt they will be to remember your company when there is a need for your services.


by: Wayne Tracy

You do not have to rely solely on homeowners and businesses calling you directly for duct cleaning services. There’s another source of business out there just waiting for you to knock on their door. It’s other contractors who need duct cleaning done as part of the work they are providing homeowners and business properties.

These contractors, like you are always looking for other income opportunities or ways to help their existing customers. By offering them your duct cleaning services at a discount price, they are able to sell their customers this service and profit by doing so. The advantage for you is you do not have to spend advertising dollars to get these customers. Simply establish these relationships and provide quality services to their customers.
Listed below are contractors and companies you should contact:
HVAC Companies – They are servicing and replacing heating and cooling systems on a daily basis.

Restoration Companies – They are providing services to clean up disasters such as fire, flood, or contamination. Insurance companies will typically work directly with restoration companies and require them to provide or subcontract duct cleaning services.

Property Management Companies – They take care of residential and commercial properties for the owner. They are alerted by building occupants and it is their responsibility to provide building services.

Housekeeping and Janitorial Companies – They are in buildings on a regular basis to keep them clean. Having a duct cleaning company to subcontract work to can help them be more profitable.

Larger Mechanical Companies – These companies install and renovate systems in larger commercial buildings. It is not uncommon for them to have specs requiring air duct cleaning on large projects.

Real Estate Agencies – When they sell properties they are sometimes in need of duct cleaning services at a buyer’s request.
Hygienists – These individuals test buildings for air quality problems and need to have contacts with duct cleaning companies.

Virtually any company that provides services to residential and commercial properties is a potential source of job referrals. It should be a constant effort on your part to reach out to these customers to offer your services. Don’t expect a job on your first contact – you’re building a relationship for future work when the need arises.

Creating Cleaning Access Openings in Ductwork

By: Wayne Tracy

There will be times on jobs where you will have to cut sheet metal ducting to get access for cleaning. You should check with state, county, and local authorities to see if any special licensing or permits are required in your area before you do this. It does vary widely from state to state.

There are several tools available for cutting openings in sheet metal. You can use simple hand held tin snips, a drill powered sheer, drill powered circle cutters, electric sheers or pneumatic cutters. All will create the openings you need; obviously the power tools are quicker and neater than hand held tools.

The reasons you may have to cut holes in sheet metal are as follows.

  1. To gain access to the evaporator coil in the air handler.
  2. To clean supply and return plenum boxes.
  3. To gain access to long trunk lines.
  4. To clean large over-sized ducting you cannot get under negative pressure.
  5. To clean around obstacles in duct runs such as turning vanes, dampers, VAV boxes, etc.
  6. Create man-size openings to crawl into large ducting for cleaning.

The size of hole you cut should be in direct proportion to the work you need to do. Some guidelines would be as follows:

  • A 1″ hole is sufficient to insert an air whip and duct ball on long runs of ducting.
  • A 4″ to 5″ hole is usually sufficient to insert a cobra cable and brush on long runs of ducting.
  • A 10″ hole is sufficient to reach in with a vacuum hose and attachment to hand vacuum a plenum box, trunk line, or clean an evaporator coil.
  • A 10″ hole is sufficient when connecting the pogo pole and/or adapter plate to a plenum box or trunk line.

The size of hole needed for a body to enter ducting will depend on the size of the person entering. For the average person a 16″ hole is usually sufficient. Note: Before sending someone inside ducting make sure it is adequately supported to carry the weight of the person and that all OSHA Confined Space and other safety standards are followed if applicable to the job you are doing.

Since you will be altering someone’s property you should let the homeowner, building owner/manager know that you will be cutting into their ductwork and explain the procedure for doing this, why you need to make the access cuts, and how you will seal it afterwards.

After cutting access holes and cleaning the accessed areas you will need to seal these cuts so they are airtight. The patch should always be 1″ larger then the hole you cut and sealed with screws, foil tape and in some case an approved duct sealant. ½” self tapping, hex head screws should be applied every 4″ around the plate then the plate edges should be covered with approved foil tape on all four sides. In some cases, especially on commercial jobs and pressurized lines you may be required to use duct sealant as well.

As a rule if you carry a supply of 6″ & 12″ sheet metal patches of 26 gauge galvanized metal in your truck you should be prepared for most jobs. When doing larger commercial jobs you’ll also want to have some 18″ patches on hand.

Never make cuts in flexible/insulated ductwork. If you need to get access into flex lines you have to cut it and then use sheet metal couplings to rejoin the cut section.

When cutting into insulated ducting, be sure you repair or patch the insulation you cut back to a sealed and leak proof condition.

Listed below are a few basic guidelines to sealing ductwork:

  • Duct Tape is not an approved material for sealing ductwork – you must use a UL approved foil tape.
  • Metal patches must overlap the opening by 1″ on all sides
  • Screws should be used every 4″ on center.
  • Metal patches must be sealed with caulking, mastic, duct sealant, gaskets, and/or approved foil tape.
  • Approved removable duct access doors may also be used instead of metal patches.

This article is meant to be a guideline only. For exact requirements please check with your state and local officials for requirements in your area. You can also refer to NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) Standard 05 for more information on Service Opening Requirements.

Maintaining Your Equipment

by: Wayne Tracy

You or the owner of your company have invested a substantial amount of money in the equipment and tools you need to provide air duct cleaning services.  Below is a brief summary of care and use instructions for different pieces of equipment.

Occasionally, equipment is returned to us for repairs or service; we are truly amazed at times of the poor condition some of this equipment is in.  It’s not because of equipment failure; it’s due to poor care and maintenance.  We find plugged filters, missing wheels, severely damaged cabinets.  Sometimes it’s strictly cosmetic issues that could easily be resolved with a little cleaning effort.

1.   Turbojet Negative Air Machines and Ductmaster Systems

a.   Care should be taken when loading and unloading this equipment from your vehicle.  You don’t want to scratch or dent the cabinet or damage internal components.

b.   Be careful that wheels are clean and dry prior to entering the customer’s home; pebbles, rocks and other debris can cause damage to flooring.

c.   You are selling a cleaning service and our equipment must always look clean and presentable.

d.   Filters should be cleaned and replaced on a regular basis.

e.   Clean the outside and inside of the turbojet cabinet.

f.    Be sure your 12″ hose is cleaned frequently.  If it has duct tape patches sealing holes; order a new hose and discard it.  A patched up hose looks very unprofessional and customers will notice.  We stock low cost 12″ Mylar hose that’s very lightweight and easy to handle.

2.   Cobra Power Brush Systems

a.   Be sure cables are cleaned on a regular basis and bristles replaced as needed.

b.   Keep the drive box clean and free of dents and scratches.

c.   Follow operating instructions so unnecessary damage can be prevented.

d.   Keep cables stored properly so they do not become kinked or damaged.

3.   Foggers

a.   Keep exterior and hose clean

b.   Drain and rinse frequently.

c.   Keep hose from kinking.

d.   Be sure power switch is not turned on or off unless the valve on the nozzle end is fully closed.

4.   Pogo Pole Assembly

a.   Inspect the rubber foot frequently and replace when necessary.  There’s pressure on this foot when you set it up and you don’t want to damage someone’s floor.

b.   Replace the ceiling pad when it becomes tattered or full of dust.

c.   Keep the poles from being bent and scratched.

5.   Air Hoses

a.   Inspect frequently for leaks and weakened fittings.  Bad fittings can break free under pressure and injure someone or damage property.

b.   Keep them looking clean.

c.    Replace them when severely kinked or damaged.

6.   Air Compressors

a.   Like all other equipment customers see this in your truck and it needs to be kept clean.

b.   Change Motor Oil and Compressor Oil on a regular basis – According to Manufacturer Specifications.

c.   Check fluid levels on a regular basis between changes, leaks can develop anytime.

d.   Check for air leaks in fittings – this can create added operating costs by the unit running at full speed more often than necessary.

7.   Sidewinder and Forward/Reverse Air Whisk Systems

a.   Keep these hoses coiled properly to prevent kinking or other permanent damage.

b.   Keep them clean.

c.   When in use keep the cable coiled so it does not get stepped on or run over by wheeled equipment.

d.   Be careful on flooring since these products have brass fittings and valves that could damage tile, hardwood, or linoleum flooring.

8.   Ductmaster & Truckmaster Systems         

a.   Keep the exterior of these units clean; image is extremely important in any cleaning business.

b.   Keep the hoses clean and periodically blow the inside of the hose clean with compressed air.

c.   When in use keep the hose assembly from causing damage to home furnishings as you move it around the home.

d.   Change the bristles on brushes as required.

e.   Periodically take the unit apart and clean the inside control area very carefully with compressed air or soft bristled vacuum devices.

f.   Change the filters as needed on the Ductmaster.

In addition to the above products, all tools, vacuums and other equipment has to be maintained in clean condition.  You are selling a “Cleaning Service”; customers cannot see the quality of work you do inside ducting.  You have to portray an image of clean so they will be comfortable with the work you are doing they can’t see.

Don’t forget your vehicles.  It’s equally important to keep these clean not only for your company image, but you’ll work more efficiently with a well-organized service truck.

Dryer Duct Cleaning, by: Wayne Tracy

The Consumer Products Safety Commission states that “Clothes dryers are associated with over 15,600 fires annually, resulting in 20 deaths and 370 injures”. These fires caused over One Hundred Million Dollars in damage.

Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint is highly combustible and can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire. Most dryer duct lines run between the walls and floors of a home and this fire can quickly spread through the rest of the home. Even though dryers have built in high temperature limit switches they often fail and cannot be relied on to provide total protection.

Although clothes dryers have a lint trap a significant amount of lint bypasses the trap and finds its way into the dryer and the dryer vent duct. In as little as a year this lint can accumulate to levels that can significantly block the flow of air through the dryer and dryer duct. When you add the warm moist air being discharged into the dryer duct this further helps the lint to start plugging the dryer duct.

Plugged or partially plugged dryer vents can also result in increased operating costs with longer drying times. This will also cause premature failure of components or the dryer. Overheating can also cause unnecessary wear and tear on clothing, thus shorting their life.

In a recent independent study it was found that a load of 7 large bath towels in a dryer with 62.5% vent restriction took 60% more time to dry the same size load and used 77% more energy than the load without the restricted vent.

The following are steps the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends Homeowners should take to prevent dryer vent fires.

Clean the Lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes. If clothing is still damp when removed after a normal dryer cycle or requires a much longer than normal dryer cycle, this may be a sign the dryer vent needs cleaning.
Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct (hose connected to the dryer) periodically. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission gives no recommendation as to cleaning frequency, most manufacturers recommend annual cleaning for the dryer to work at maximum efficiency.
Check and clean the outside dryer vent exhaust for obstructions and make sure the flapper opens and closes properly. If the flapper is not fully closing, birds and other rodents can nest in the dryer vent line.
Clean behind and around the dryer where lint can build up. Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of lint and clutter.
Replace old style flexible plastic/vinyl hose with corrugated or foil hose. The plastic/vinyl hose is no longer allowed in most states and is not fireproof and can actually cause a fire to start and spread quicker.
The interior of the dryer chassis should be cleaned by a qualified service person periodically. Lint and debris will build up inside the dryer as well as in the dryer duct.

If you do not offer dryer vent cleaning to your existing customers you should give serious consideration to adding it. It goes hand in hand with your current duct cleaning business. Most companies find it to be a very easy upsell to their duct cleaning service call. The average charge for cleaning a dryer duct is $75.00 to $125.00 when done at the same time duct cleaning services are provided. And, $150.00 to $250.00 when provided as a stand alone service.

While air duct cleaning is not required every year, dryer duct cleaning services are needed on a much more frequent basis. This keeps you in touch with your existing customer base more often and you’ll more likely be remembered when it’s time for them to have their air duct cleaned.

We offer a full line of equipment, accessories and training for your dryer duct cleaning service. Please see our website or contact our sales staff for a full review of how we can help you get this service up and running. Or, assist in improving your existing business by adding new more productive equipment and sales aids.