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In the past, we have alluded to how our process of HVAC maintenance is different from that of a regular air duct cleaning service. 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 to the best of our abilities in each unique system we attempt to clean. 

Whether it’s in the attic of your house, above the drop ceiling of your office, in a giant open warehouse or hidden somewhere in a dark and deserted maintenance closet, the air handler of your HVAC system is the source and supplier of the IAQ levels throughout your entire building. A thorough inspection and assessment of this area is therefore necessary in establishing control over the indoor air quality mission. 

The return air or intake area of your HVAC system 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 the unit itself is worked over repeatedly with a HEPA vacuum. HEPA (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 mold spores and other potentially harmful contaminants commonly found in the air that we breathe. The scope of each particular project varies depending upon the extent of observed or recorded indoor air pollution, but in some cases, every square inch of the conditioned facility may be HEPA vacuumed first before any other cleaning steps are taken. 

Once the air handler is fully vacuumed, the unit itself, its inner components and each of the air duct vent covers are cleaned with a wet wipe-down process using an EPA-registered antimicrobial disinfectant and deodorizing solution. The blower motor is disassembled and cleaned using a pump sprayer and pressure washer to achieve a visibly clean and dust-free result with the same antimicrobial agent. 

The air handler coils are also contact cleaned with a gentler version of the same process (If our air duct inspection reveals the need for a deeper cleaning or possible replacement of the inner coils, we will document our findings and recommend that you contact an HVAC contractor to help you with this component, as we do not clean the coils in any way that could potentially damage them). 

Again, depending upon the scope of the project, the wipe-down process may include the entire square footage of the conditioned facility or sometimes only the horizontal surfaces of each frequently occupied room where mold spores and other contaminants are most likely to accumulate. During both the HEPA vac and wipe-down phases, we may also 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 may then pass an anti-microbial encapsulant through each of the air ducts, the air returns and into the air handler itself. This 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, turned back on and tested, and a final optional fogging treatment of the air inside the building is done before handing it all 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 and routinely recommend in each of our customer’s personal homes. 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 jobs, and that’s why we go above and beyond to ensure that our clients receive the best work and the best results we can possibly offer each and every time, so that we can breathe easier knowing that you will be too!

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