Dave Reyes is the owner and founder of Dave’s Duct Cleaning, one of the top duct cleaning services in Toronto and the GTA. Business aside, he hopes to shine a light on the frauds of the duct cleaning industry and help consumers save their money, time, and home from unqualified HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) remediators. With a mission to educate consumers about proper duct cleaning, some could call Dave an activist of his industry.
What is your connection to Toronto?
I was born and raised in Toronto, as well as educated. I went to the University of Toronto St. George campus at Victoria College. My company has a large footprint across the GTA and Toronto, and we’ve seen everything in terms of ductwork remediation that Toronto has to offer—whether that’s commercial, industrial, or residential. At Dave’s Duct Cleaning, we work out of our trucks. We have two trucks at the moment, with a third one on its way. One truck is based out of Mississauga, another out of the Whitby/Durham region, and the new one will be set in Vaughan. Each truck has a 100km radius which lets us reach everything from the downtown core to Barrie.
How did you get into the duct cleaning business?
Seven years ago, I was scammed by an unscrupulous duct cleaning company. My wife answered a telemarketing call pitching duct cleaning services, and she said: “Sure, we haven’t gotten our ducts cleaned in a while”. My wife and I didn’t know any better, and we thought we had a reputable company serving us. We turned out to be wrong.
When they came to our home, they drilled holes in places that ruined the integrity of our HVAC system. They also claimed to have inspected our furnace when they had no license to. They said there were issues with the furnace that they could fix for an additional fee, and because I was uneducated at the time about these things, they sold me on an extended warranty on the appliance that they had no right selling an extended warranty for. This whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth and motivated me to start my own duct cleaning service to do it right and to educate consumers about what it takes to have the work done properly.
Dave’s Duct Cleaning is here! Think we have finally found Jimmy Hoffa!!!
How do I know when to get my ducts cleaned?
We have a checklist on our website to inform consumers about the symptoms of dirty ducts. There are several “checks” one can undertake to determine whether your home needs its air ducts cleaned:
- Presence of mold growth inside sheet metal ducts or on other components of the heating and cooling system.
- Ducts are infested with vermin such as rats or insects.
- Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris.
The rule of thumb is to have someone clean your ducts after a renovation or after purchasing a new home. After a thorough and proper cleaning, per NADCA standards and under normal living conditions (no renovations/pets), you likely won’t need another one for the next five-to-seven years. That is unless you went with a “blow-and-go” company – they’ll say “see you next year”.
Why is it important to get my ducts cleaned?
Because they’re dirty; that’s the biggest reason. The HVAC system is a low-pressure system, and the build-up of dust and debris is adding resistance to the system. Without the HVAC system providing proper airflow to your home, there are tons of things in our environment that would hurt us, such as off-gassing. Off-gassing can come from the chemicals from the materials used in the construction of new homes, from sunlight touching plastics, and from other ordinary things such as printers. A clean duct system moves these chemicals out of your home. As well, with clean ducts, you aren’t propelling more dirt into your environment.
Can you explain the difference between the companies charging $300-$400 for duct cleaning and the companies that charge $100-$150?
The $100-$150 companies are blow-and-go companies. They come in unmarked vans and don’t care about the customer. They’ll come into your home, say they’ll do a good job, upsell you, and get onto the next victim. They’ll also offer you services that they’re not qualified to do.
Companies that charge fair prices for their service are only capable of doing no more than three jobs per day with a two-person crew. On average it takes two-to-three hours to remediate a standard 2000-3000 square foot home. Also, it’s important to me to have technicians that are NADCA certified. We have the credentials to remediate commercial, industrial and residential HVAC systems. We won’t just work through your house as fast as possible so we can make it to the next client – we also stay as long as the job necessitates because it’s important for me to deliver a proper and thorough service.
Why is being certified so important?
To be NADCA certified, there is an exam and a yearly recertification. That to me says that certified technicians are constantly on top of the innovation of HVAC remediation. By being NADCA certified, there’s a technical standard and a moral obligation that one has to adhere to and they’re supposed to know everything there is about your HVAC system—from sheet metal to the different types of ductwork in your home. The knowledge you need for the certification is complicated stuff but it’s important for remediators to understand the fundamentals in order to provide a service to customers who are unaware of what it takes to remediate properly.
What does it mean to be NADCA certified?
In layman’s terms, the point of having a NADCA certification is that every job site is different and, in my opinion, it’s important that any technician that goes onto a job site can pull from the same knowledge base that I have in order to do the job properly. This is what the customer needs and is paying for. I wouldn’t just train an individual and give them a basic understanding of remediation because I believe they should know what I know, if not more. They may encounter a situation that is not common. But if they are taught and educated about the process and about the industry, they could remediate any situation without any additional support.
Aside from certifications, what should I look for when hiring a duct cleaning technician?
Do they take before/after pictures? Do they provide transparent and upfront pricing with no hidden fees? Are they willing to let you job shadow them? Will they walk you through their methodology for remediation? Would they do an inspection prior to performing the job to ensure you actually need the work done? You want to see if they’ll be in business tomorrow, whether they support the community that they’re working in, and if they’re part of any associations. Associations all have standards, codes, and beliefs, and being part of an association means that the technician adheres to those standards, codes, and beliefs. The association also holds its members accountable if they do anything deceitful or illegal. Additionally, online sentiment is important. There are websites like Homestars, Yelp, Google Reviews, and BBB (Better Business Bureau) which can tell you a bit more about the company’s work. Lastly, ask for references and verify that they’re insured.
Can you tell me about your company’s relationship with Habitat for Humanity?
Habitat for Humanity was originally building and delivering homes to families without remediating the HVAC systems. We introduced them to remediating the HVAC system before handing the home to the family so that the family isn’t subject to drywall dust and sawdust. We help Habitat for Humanity take particle readings, bring in HEPA filtration, and educate the families about how to maintain their HVAC system. If Habitat for Humanity is helping families and giving them a home, well, let’s help give the family a clean home. We also donate a portion from every job to Habitat for Humanity, and over the past three years, we’ve donated over $30,000. To me, it’s important to help others and to be active in the community.
What are the oddest things you find in HVAC system while on the job?
You’ll see everything from toys to drugs and pornography in people’s HVAC systems. Depending on the age of the home, the HVAC system is like a time capsule; you can tell if construction was done and when it was done, what kind of people lived there, and much more. It’s common for pets to get lost in the home’s ducts – gerbils and guinea pigs are common. The family complains about a missing pet and a bad smell, and it’ll turn out to be a corpse somewhere in the system. We’ve also found houses where people have defecated and urinated in the supply vents. And we’ve found things like gold coins, vintage trading cards, and even a contractor’s lunch.
— Dave’s Duct Cleaning (@davesducts) December 20, 2016