By Michael Schwanke
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:00 PM CST, February 2, 2012
Thinking about having your duct work in your home cleaned? If so, you better do your research first.
Green Home Air Duct Cleaning makes a deal that promises a lot for $79.95. The ad says the company will clean up to 10 vents in your home, a return, a trunk line and even inspect your furnace for that low price.
But, how can a company offer such a great deal for a job that normally costs more than $200?
That’s what a viewer wanted FactFinder 12 to investigate. In the home of a KWCH photographer, we set up hidden cameras and hired Green Home to clean the duct work.
But before the company arrived, we brought in Mike Baker, local owner of Stanley Steamer, to take us inside the duct work with his camera.
“There's no rust or water marks,” says Baker.
When asked if he saw any indication of mold or mildew Baker said, “absolutely not, not a thing.”
Baker also checked the furnace for signs of dust, mold or mildew.
“This furnace is really ...it looks like a brand new furnace,” says Baker who only found minimal dust at the bottom of the unit.
Our next step was to bring in Green Home, which also operates under the name Midwest Home Services. The company is based in Nebraska.
A two man crew quickly inspected the home and while one started cleaning, the other started selling to our homeowner.
Our cameras were rolling the whole time:
Salesman: “I showed you downstairs, Mike (the other technician) showed you, the blower motor is dirty. The bottom of the furnace is dirty on both sides of your furnace filter."
First it's a dirty furnace. Then the word no homeowner wants to hear—mold.
Salesman: “I'm not going to tell you that it's true yet, but I’m going to go check it after we get done talking.”
But without checking, by just looking at the vents, the man claimed to have found indications of mold.
Salesman: “It looks like there's going be traces of mold, mildews and funguses running through several of these vents from what I see in there. There's rust spots in there. Anytime there's rust spots there's moisture and anytime there's moisture in dark places that's when mold spores and funguses and mildews start to grow.”
To take care of that mold and mildew, you probably guessed it. It will cost more than the $79.95.
Salesman: “The company's recommendation is almost $2,000. That's not my recommendation. I know what I’m looking at. The company is not here…the company can kind of kiss my butt because I know what it takes to make money.”
Instead the salesman started making deals with our homeowner.
Salesman: “Now this will cover the whole system without treating it. That would run $559.65. That would cover all your duct work….all of it. Everything for the house and that would cover the blower, cleaning out the bottom of it and everything else along with the AC coil."
Our homeowner sticks to the $79.95 deal and pays the bill.
That’s when, after listening the salesman make his pitch, we confronted the man as they were leaving.
We asked him after looking at the bill how he knew there were indications of mold and mildew.
“From the bio-swab test. We take a bio swab test and test in there and we have rust in there and that's an indication of mold mildew or fungus spores in the system,” said the salesman.
A bio-swab test? He never showed the homeowner a test, but the man claimed he swabbed the furnace blower. What he didn’t know is we had a camera set up on the furnace from start to finish. The only time he ever touched it was to put the cover back on.
When we asked him to show us how the test works, and gave him the opportunity to swab the furnace blower in front of us, but the man declined.
“Yea…but I’m not going to because I got told to leave,” said the salesman.
The man left without ever swabbing the furnace.
Shortly after, we brought Mike Baker with Stanley Steamer back. We had him watch our hidden camera video. Baker says it may appear like the men were cleaning the vents, but the proper equipment and techniques were not used.
He also sent a camera back into the duct work and wasn’t surprised at what he found.
“That has definitely not been cleaned,” says Baker as he looked at the display from his camera that showed dust and debris remaining in the vents.
We called the company. Owner Erik Schweitzer says that’s not how his company operates.
He also claims to have fired both employees in our story and is offering a refund to any homeowner in the Wichita area who received mold or mildew treatments and did not actually see bio-swab test performed.
You can call Green Home at (316) 559-1799.
“The methods that were used in regards to services recommended are absolutely not trained or Condoned by our company in any way! We always stress a high ethical responsibility in regards to how an employee conducts themselves when interacting with any and all of our customers,” Schweitzer says in a written statement.
FactFinder 12 also found this isn't the first time Green Home has been investigated. The Better Business Bureau in Nebraska has an alert on the company.
It says “Midwest Home Services has received two complaints from customers alleging that the company’s technicians diagnosed their duct system with mold, which was later found to be false by another air duct cleaning company.”
Baker says he’s not surprised. If something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.
Copyright © 2013, KWCH-TV