One important aspect of taking care of an HVAC unit, which is often forgotten, is regular duct cleaning. This is what you should know about duct cleaning for the HVAC unit in your home. Why is Duct Cleaning So Important? Ducts are a vital component of your HVAC system because they help the cold and hot air travel throughout the unit and back to different parts of the house.
Is Duct Cleaning necessary?
Dirty air ducts can result in a variety of health problems for your entire household, such as allergies, asthma, and even worse. These health problems can sometimes be avoided, however, by performing routine duct cleaning services on a regular basis. You might be surprised at how much dirt and debris can be built up in your air ducts without you even knowing it. Ducts can become clogged with dirt and debris throughout the years, which is why regular maintenance is so important.
Types of Duct Cleaning
There are 2 methods of cleaning ducts that are generally accepted as the industry standard.
The first one is called the negative air method. It involves putting the entire ducting system under negative pressure. This is accomplished by attaching a large negative air machine, essentially a really large vacuum to the ducting system. The negative air machine is also known as an air scrubber. The air scrubber is equipped with a HEPA filter to collect and filter out all the fine particles and harmful bacteria. A rating of 2000 CFM (cubic feet per minute) airflow or more is recommended to create proper negative pressure.
The air scrubber puts the entire duct system in a vacuum (negative pressure condition) due to pulling air out of the ducts. Each supply and return vent has to be plugged for this to be accomplished. The only vent that will be unplugged is the one you are working on. So you will work throughout the system one vent at a time, until all vents are cleaned.
While the duct system is under negative pressure and all vents are plugged except the one to be worked. The duct cleaner will then use a series of tools to disturb and knock loose all the debris in the ducts to be then be pulled into the air scrubber by way of high CFM negative pressure.
Method #1 tools used
The tools used to disturb, knock loose and clean up harmful debris varies. One of the tools used is a duct snake. It consists of a long tube that has a rotating center core, that is connected to a large rotating brush on the end. It’s similar to a plumbing snake but instead it’s designed for ducts.
It is powered by a variable speed motor, the duct cleaning technician carries a remote switch that controls the speed and rotation of the brush. The technician stands on a ladder pushing the snake through the ducts controlling the snake with his remote. This causes the debris to be removed from the inner walls of the ducts and then flow to the air scrubber for collection and disposal.
The other tools operate under the snake principles as the duct snake. They dislodge dirt, bacteria, and debris to be swept away into the air scrubber. Instead of being powered by a variable speed motor and remote control. They are powered differently.
An air whisk is powered by compressed air. It operates by using the compressed air to propel itself forward into the duct being cleaned. While moving forward it is bouncing around and hitting the ducts with its cleaning head and compressed air swishing away all debris into the air scrubber.
Another tool is the expandable manual brush. It is made up of interchangeable brush heads to match the size of the vent to be cleaned. It also has a flexible fiberglass shaft with metal threads on the end. The threads are what make it expandable, by connecting more shaft extensions in 5 foot increments so it can reach the desired distance into the vent. This tool is usually limited at about 25 feet length.
Method # 2
Rotating brush with vacuum source. This is often referred to as the roto brush method. Though Rotobush is a brand of duct cleaning equipment, they pioneered this type of duct cleaning. So that’s why the method and their brand get used interchangeably.
This method is limited in power and cleaning capacity due the lack of power of the vacuum vs method 1. This method is generally reserved for residential applications. The main benefit to using this method is quicker job times and in turn cost savings to the customer.
Method #2 types of vacuum sources
The rotating brush with vacuum source method is a very effective way to clean vents. It can be powered by a vacuum that is portable ( roto brush method). The vacuum source can also be powered by a “ truck mount “ . A truck mount is a large gas powered machine that is normally installed in a cargo van, or a cargo trailer. This is the same machine carpet cleaners use to clean carpet and tile.
The rotating brush with vacuum source method consists of either a portable vacuum source (Rotobrush) or a truck mount vacuum source. Both sources contain hepa filters and have a long vacuum hose attached and extending out to a rotating brush on the other end.. In the center core of the long vacuum hose contains a rotating shaft connected to the brush head on the end. It is controlled the same way the duct snake is as mentioned in method 1.
To clean vents with method #2 the operator is pushing and pulling the rotating brush throughout each vent in the ducting system. All dirt, bacteria, and debris is then sucked into the vacuum on the end of the hose that has the rotating brush coming out of it.
The difference between methods 1 and 2 of duct cleaning is mainly the power and source in which unwanted debris is collected and disposed of.
Who to call for duct cleaning?
There are many different service providers that offer duct cleaning services for your home or office building. A quick search on the internet should yield several results, depending on the size of the building and the amount of vents to be cleaned.
There are companies that have portable duct cleaning machines and or truck mounts. These are questions you may want to ask before hiring them so you know exactly what you are getting for your money. For your vent cleaning needs you should only consider certified licensed companies.
If you don’t already have this service done on a regular basis, you should consider having it done. Your health is dependent upon it!
Who should be doing the cleaning of your vents?
Duct cleaning services should be performed by licensed HVAC contractors, who are trained in inspecting and maintaining the ducts in a home or office building. The duct cleaning technician will be working on your HVAC system. The vents are only part of the system but to perform a proper cleaning access will be needed to the air handler coil and other electrical parts of the system to disable it while cleaning is being done, This should only be performed by a qualified licensed air conditioning contractor.
Benefits of Duct Cleaning
A major benefit of hiring a professional service is the prevention of expensive AC repair bills. By getting regular duct-cleaning service for your air conditioning unit, you can significantly reduce the average cost of cooling your house each month. Even if you do not need your air conditioning ducts cleaned, you should at least inspect them once a year for discoloration or other signs of filth. When you keep dirt and particulates out of the air ducts, you can cut down on your air conditioners operating costs. Not only will you save on your AC’s cost, but you will also have the added benefit of reducing your monthly utility bills.
Better indoor air quality
The air quality of the rooms in your house can affect your health, especially if you suffer from asthma or allergies. Professional air duct cleaning services can detect the source of dust or other airborne contaminants and make sure that it is eliminated before it has the chance to spread. A dirty or dusty duct may be the source of dust that triggers an asthma attack, so having it cleaned out can reduce the amount of times you have to deal with this allergic reaction. The same goes for particles that cause allergic reactions to your lungs.
A cleaner home
If an air vent is restricted by dirt, it will reduce the airflow volume but increase its velocity. Think of putting your finger over the end of a water hose. It will also increase the amount of noise in your home. You may even hear a whistling sound. The increased airflow velocity pushes more dust, debris, pollen, and other contaminants into your living space.
It is important to reduce the amount of dust in your home by vacuuming frequently and thoroughly cleaning up excess dirt and debris wherever you can reach. Make sure to keep the doors and windows of your house closed as much as possible during the winter months to keep cold air from entering your house through your windows and doors.
When the weather is cold or hot, turn on fans to help circulate the conditioned indoor air. This reduces the need to open windows or doors to let outside air in. This can also help to keep dirt and debris out of your house so that it is cleaner and more healthy for you and your family to live in.
Only Qualified Licensed Contractors should clean your ducts
If you want to have your ductwork professionally cleaned, be sure to talk to a professional who does this regularly and is a licensed contractor. Always check their online reputation and reviews for any past customer feedback…
A professional duct cleaning company will come out to your home to conduct the inspection and cleaning of your ductwork and give you a reasonable price. There are many unscrupulous unlicensed companies out there operating a bait and switch game. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is! After reading this article hopefully, you’ve gained enough insight to make a comfortable confident decision about duct cleaning. Please contact us for any additional information.