For the fourth installment, we enlisted air duct-cleaning experts from the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, Mark Zarzeczny and Anthony Paterno, who have a combined 50 years of experience, to fully inspect the home's air ducts.
“Basically, you just need a basic air duct cleaning,” Zarzeczny told Guerrero.
With hidden cameras everywhere, the house is rigged to see every move anyone inside can make. All of the live footage is transmitted to a remote command post on the first floor.
Guerrero made appointments with companies offering great deals on air duct cleaning. Would they provide a good service or charge us for things we didn't need?
One man worked for a company offering an $88 special. He entered the home, lugged a big vacuum inside and started cleaning.
“He's not going the full length of the ducts,” Guerrero noticed from the command post as she watched the footage.
“Exactly, he's working hard, but it's very substandard work,” Zarzeczny agreed.
For $50 more, he said he’d clean the big ducts in the attic. He brought up the vacuum but Inside Edition’s hidden cameras showed he never cleaned any of them.
“He charged you extra for the main trunk lines,” Zarzeczny told Guerrero.
“Which he didn't do,” she replied.
Instead of cleaning the ducts, the cameras caught him looking at a provocative picture of a woman on his cellphone.
Guerrero then revealed her true identity to the man.
“I'm Lisa Guerrero with Inside Edition, did you do a thorough job today?” she asked the technician.
He insisted he did do a thorough job, but she questioned him further.
“Did you open all the areas that you were supposed to open and clean them thoroughly?” she asked.
“Yes I did, there is proof of everything. You can look at all of them and inspect them right now,” he said.
Guerrero and the tech went up to the attic, where he finally admitted he didn’t clean the big ducts located there. “No, I didn’t clean that," he said.
“Would you want somebody do what you did to me to your mom?” she asked.
"No," he replied.
Next was another technician from a company that had a great deal thanks to a coupon that offered $38 thanks to Groupon to clean the ducts.
After just a few minutes in the attic, a repairman recommended their most expensive option, at a cost of $1,200.
The repairmen said the huge price was to disinfect the house's system, something our experts said it didn't even need.
“At the end of the day, you tried to charge me $1,200 for something this house doesn't need and that's the bottom line,” Guerrero told the repairman.
“That's not true, that's not true,” he said.
“It was a bait and switch,” she fired back.
He claimed it wasn’t, but as he was leaving, he tried to snatch the estimate out of the hands of an Inside Edition producer.
Click here for information for homeowners on duct cleaning from the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.
Click here for information from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Here's how you can protect yourself when it comes to home repairs:
• Check if the contractor is licensed and/or a member of a recognized association that requires certain education and professional standards.
• Check to see if they are listed on the BBB to see what their rating is.
• Get multiple opinions and estimates.
• Ask about any service fees prior to scheduling an appointment.
• Do not pay upfront, prior to the job being completed.
• Make sure they accept credit card or check. Don’t accept cash-only deals.
• Get everything in writing.
• Avoid those who don’t dress or act professionally.
• Avoid contractors who pressure you to make a quick decision.
• Avoid door-to-door repairmen or those who solicit you.
• Look into their online reviews.
• Remember - you get what you pay for. Coupon deals that seem too good to be true usually are.
• Avoid companies with unmarked vehicles. Make sure the contractor you contact is able to tell you the official name of their business.
• Discuss the work you’re looking for before the contractor begins the job. Make sure they know not to proceed with any repairs before discussing the price with you.
• Don’t leave valuables out in plain sight.
• Make sure someone is home during any work that’s being done.