In the past, New Orleans air duct cleaning has alluded to how our process of HVAC maintenance is different from that of a regular air duct cleaning. From the standpoint of an IAQ specialist, there is only one way to properly clean an HVAC system, and that is to disinfect it, in the literal, scientific definition of the word, from the inside out. Here’s a little more insight into how we go about achieving that goal.
Whether it’s in the attic, above an office in a warehouse, or hidden in a maintenance closet, the air handlers of your HVAC system are the source of the IAQ levels found throughout your entire facility.
A thorough inspection and assessment of this area is therefore necessary in establishing control over the indoor air situation. The area should be kept as clean and well ventilated as possible, and this is definitely not the place for storing things you wouldn’t want to be breathing in on a daily basis.
In cases of extremely poor IAQ levels, particularly those in which high levels of microbial spores are detected, the entire closet or surrounding area of the air handler and then the unit itself is worked over repeatedly with a HEPA vacuum.
HEPA (meaning high efficiency particulate absorption) vacuuming is critical, since this type of filter is able to capture particles as small as some of the most dangerous spores and contaminants commonly found in the air we breathe. The scope of each particular project varies depending upon the extent of indoor air pollution, but in some cases, every square inch of the conditioned facility may be HEPA vacuumed first before other steps are taken.
Once the air handler is fully vacuumed, the unit itself, along with its coils and each of the air duct vent covers are fully disinfected during a wet wipe-down process, using an EPA-registered anti-microbial disinfectant and deodorization solution.
Again, depending upon the scope of the project, the wipe-down may often include the entire square footage of the conditioned facility, or sometimes only the horizontal surfaces of each room, where mold spores and other contaminants are most likely to accumulate.
During both the HEPA vac and wipe-down phases, we have set up air filtration devices, commonly referred to as “air scrubbers,” which are installed around the facility to constantly suck in contaminants and filter out clean air. These devices may be left running for the extent of the project depending upon the recommended protocols for each job. Only after these initials steps are taken do we begin to actually focus on the air ducts.
The equipment we use for cleaning air ducts is a custom-made and versatile device that basically transforms your HVAC system into a giant reverse vacuum. The hose from our machine is connected either through the plenum of your HVAC system or to the nearest accessible vent opening. All other vent openings are then sealed off from the inside, and the system is turned on.
One by one, we move through each of the duct lines with a rotating brush tool, while the negative pressure created by the machine carries all the contaminants in the ductwork safely to the impenetrable filter of our unit. After each line is scrubbed, we then use a fogging machine in each of the lines to carry a vaporized, micron-sized dose of disinfectant all the way through the entire HVAC system and back into our machine, ensuring that the lines are not only clean, but microbially deactivated.
After the deactivation and enough time has passed for the product to dry, we then pass an anti-microbial encapsulant through each of the air ducts and into the air handler itself. The encapsulant forms a residual coating inside the HVAC system, which kills any remaining microbial spores beneath it and does not allow any new contaminants to grow on top of it in the future.
Once this process is completed, the vent covers are re-attached, the unit is re-assembled and turned back on, and a final disinfecting treatment of the air inside the building is done before handing it back over to you.
It’s important to note that all of the extra steps and equipment we use in our HVAC cleaning projects for multi-million dollar fabrication or distribution facilities are the same steps we take in each customer’s personal home.
Whether offshore or industrial, commercial or residential, no matter how big or how small, we all have the right to breathe clean air in our homes and at our jobsites, and that’s why we go above and beyond to ensure that our customers receive the best work and the best results we have to offer, each and every time.
Written by freelance writer, Nathan Folse