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Welcome to our Air Duct Cleaning Blog!

Ten Ways NADCA Membership Brings You Value

Posted by Kristy Cohen, NADCA Executive Director on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 @ 03:03 PM

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As companies think about joining NADCA or are renewing their membership it's not uncommon to here - "What am I getting for my annual NADCA membership dues?"  Here are 10 things you do get with your NADCA membership:

1. Increased Market demand for Your Services:

Your NADCA membership dues support a full-time, dedicated marketing manager to promote the importance of specifying NADCA membership and certifications in bid specifications for commercial projects to engineers, architects and specifiers.  To date, we've reached over 3,000 specifiers, engineers and architects who now have the NADCA General Specification.  This means more business for NADCA members.

2. Competitive Advantage through International Recognized Certifications:

The increased specifications of NADCA membership and certification gives those with NADCA ASCS certification a competitive advantage over those without it.  NADCA members receive a deep discount on both the ASCS and CVI certification exams.

3. Increased Client Referrals:

Over 120,000 consumers visit the NADCA Find a Professional Directory each year and, with our new mobile responsive website and social media marketing, that number continues to grow.  Your membership gives you a company profile in the directory so consumers can find and hire your company.

4. Educating Consumers via Targeting Marketing:

We're all familiar with the air duct cleaning scams and the "blow-and-go" companies that tarnish our industries reputation.  NADCA's "Breathing Clean" campaign is designed to educate consumers on the importance of hiring a NADCA member and how to look out for signs of a scammer.  It also reinforces the age-old adage that you get what you pay for.  Your NADCA membership supports this landmark consumer education campaign and gives you access to Breathing Clean collateral, PSA's and social media marketing tips to show your company is part of this important initiative.  

5. Fighting Fraud in our Industry:

NADCA aggressively pursues trademark infringement and false claims of membership and certification to protect member's investment.  Your membership dues support these efforts, which have resulted in 97% of all reported infringement cases being successfully closed since 2014.                    

6. Discounted Access to Industry-Best Education & Training:

Your membership dues give you discounted access to all levels of training and education to help you and your technicians provide quality service in accordance with NADCA standards.  NADCA's Fall Tech Conference provides a unique hands-on learning experience for both entry-level and advanced technicians.  Plus, as a NADCA member your companies employees receive a significant registration discounts.

NADCA on-demand webinars and online training help you conveniently and affordably access practical information. From blueprint reading and estimating to cleaning internally lined ductwork, restoring coils and home/building performance contracting, there is so much to learn from our industry experts who share their experience and practical knowledge.

7.  Networking and Insights from Industry Peers:

NADCA members have direct access to unique networking opportunities and registration discounts for the NADCA Annual Conference.  If you've never attended, you're missing out on one of the best opportunities to gain valuable insights, tips and ideas from fellow members that are sure to help you grow your business.  Attendees tell us that the networking and camaraderie they developed at the meeting is priceless.

8. Affinity Program Discounts and Member Benefits:

NADCA membership entitles you to several member benefits and affinity program discounts and savings that include:

  • Equipment rental through Sunbelt rental
  • Computer equipment purchases through Dell
  • Credit card processing with Elavon
  • Mobile apps
  • Free subscriptions to DucTales Magazine and Air Conveyance E-Newsletter
  • Free marketing resource and use of the NADCA logo
  • Member mentor program

9. Opportunity to Shape and Lead the Industry:

Volunteer opportunities to serve on committees and task force groups allow you to weigh n, develop strategic programs and initiatives and participate in decision making that impacts our association, its members and the industry.  These opportunities are also an important stepping stone toward board leadership.  The NADCA Board of Directors comprises your fellow NADCA members ensuring that the strategic vision and direction of the association is in the best interest of the membership.  Take advantage of these opportunities to be an industry leader.  

10.  Using the NADCA Brand to Set Yourself Apart from the Competition

NADCA membership shows commitment to quality and sets your company apart from your competitors.  Your membership dues support NADCA's investment and commitment to promoting the importance of hiring a NADCA member company in both the commercial and residential and marketplace to give you the competitive advantage and increase your bottom line. Now thats value!

 

Contact Kristy Cohen at 855-Go-NADCA with any questions or go to, http://www.nadcs.com   

 

Intro to  Residential   Air Duct Cleaning  Guide  Intro to  Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide

 

Selecting the Right Air Duct Cleaning Tool for the Job Part 2 – Cleaning Tools for Commercial/Industrial Projects

Posted by Peter Haugen on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 @ 08:26 AM

Commercial air duct cleaning is different than residential air duct cleaning and presents a different set of challenges.  The HVAC systems are bigger and more complex.  This complexity requires even more tools and equipment.    Like residential, there is no one magic commercial cleaning tool.   Like residential, selecting the right cleaning tool is important because 95% of the cost of air duct cleaning is your labor cost.  Your goal is to achieve the desired level of cleanliness (via source removal) as fast as possible.  The more productive you are the more profitable you will be.   

Before we look at the different commercial cleaning tools we need to look at the different levels of cleaning that can be achieve.

Level 1 - Air Washing:  Air washing is the use of high-pressure air that comes from the air compressor through an air hose to an air nozzle. This air nozzle delivers streams of high-pressure air, which dislodges the accumulated dirt and debris found in the duct. 

Level 2 – Air WhipsAn air whip is the combination of air washing (high-pressure air) with agitation from the whip(s).  The high pressure of the air and whipping action dislodge the accumulated dirt and debris found in the duct. Air whips achieve a higher level of cleaning than air washing.

Level 3 – Brushing: Brushing (both manual and powered systems) makes physical contact with more of the interior surface of the duct.  This brushing action effectively dislodges the accumulated dirt and debris found in the ductwork.  Bushing achieves a higher level of cleaning than both air washing and air whips.

Level 3 – Contact vacuuming: Contact vacuuming makes physical contact with more of the interior surface of the duct.  This contact vacuuming action effectively dislodges the accumulated dirt and debris found in the ductwork/furnaces/air handlers.  Contact vacuuming achieves a higher level of cleaning than both air washing and air whips.

 All of the cleaning tools listed in the previous residential clean tools blog (listed below) can be used on some parts of commercial HVAC systems.  To review the description, how they work, pluses, minuses, where best used go to: Part 1 – Cleaning tools for residential/light commercial projects,        3-8-17.   

  • Air Washing Tools
  • Air Whip Systems
  • Flexible Cable Brush Systems
  • Solid Core Cable Brush Systems
  • Contact Vacuuming

 

Now let’s look the additional cleaning tools you will need for commercial projects: 

Pneumatic Brushing & Air Washing/Whipping System

Description:  These systems are pneumatic (air driven) and allow you to brush and then air wash/whip  the ductwork with the same system (but not at the same time).  They include:

  • 12”, 24” nylon brushes (32”optional)
  • 12”, 24” silica carbide brushes (32” optional)
  • Reversible air motor
  • Guide system
  • Set of extension rods (23’ of reach). Additional rods can be added
  • On/off control
  • Forward and reverse air washing nozzles
  • Optional whip kit

Super_RBS_in_duct_1.jpg 24_Nylon_Brush_on_RBS_4a.jpg

  How they work: You select the right size brush for the duct and conditions, attach it to the air motor, attach the guide system with the right size legs (to center the brush in the duct) to the air motor, attach an extension rod to the guide system, attach the on/off control to the rod, connect the air hose from your compressor to the on/off control.  Pull the trigger on the on/off control to rotate the brush and then push/pull the rod to clean that section of duct.  Add additional rods to clean the further down the duct.

After brushing, remove the brush/air motor/guide system assembly and connect the forward or reverse air washing nozzle to the rod and do a final air wash. 

Pluses: Easy to use, wide brush maximizes productivity, makes contact with most of the duct surface, guide system and rods give you excellent control, can brush and air wash with one system.  Optional whip kit gives you additional cleaning capabilities.    

Minuses: Will not negotiate turns.

Where best to use: Clean straight sheet metal and lined ducts and shafts from 4” to 30” high no matter what the width.

 

Long Reach Brushing Systems 

Description:  These electric or pneumatic systems give you extra long reach from one access point to maximize your productivity.  They include:

  • 45’, 65’, 80’ or 130’ of cable
  • Reel system
  • Electric or pneumatic powered
  • Reversible and variable speed
  • Foot operated on/off control
  • Select from several types of brushes from 8” to 48”
  • Optional centering device and other accessories

super_reach_img01.jpg

How they work: You select the right size brush for the duct and conditions, attach it to the end or the cable, insert brush/cable into duct, step on the on/off control, adjust speed if needed, push and pull cable down the duct or shaft.  Several of the systems can also air wash and spray.  

Pluses: Easy to use, wide selection of brushes, excellent reach for excellent productivity, makes contact with most of the duct surface, cleans better than air washing and air whips.   

Minuses: Will not negotiate more than 1 or 2 turns.

Where best to use: Long commercial ducts and shafts. 

 

Robotic Systems

Description:  Most robotic systems allow you to air wash/whip, power brush and spray.   These systems usually include:

  • Robotic vehicle with
  • cameras and lights
  • 100 cable
  • Air washing/whipping package
  • Power brushing package (ductwork up to 22” high)
  • Spraying package (ductwork up to 36” high
  • Control module
  • Color monitor
  • Recording capability (optional with some systems)
  • Travel cases

supertrac_vrobotic08.jpg

How they work: You determine what level of cleanliness you want and select either the air washing, air whip or brushing option and attach it to the robotic vehicle, connect the cable and any other connections needed for set up, you then can watch your cleaning activities on the color monitor as you drive the vehicle with the cleaning tool through the ductwork.   

Pluses: Excellent reach, choice of cleaning tools, great option when confined space is an issue or access is limited.  

Minuses: Usually requires two people, sometimes not as productive as other tools.

Where best to use: Clean medium size sheet metal and lined ducts with limited accessibility.

 

Coating/Sealing

Description:  Applying coatings and sanitizes in ductwork is not really cleaning but is a very common task, especially when fiberglass is present and if you are working on a fire or mold restoration project.   Sealing or eliminating leaks in ductwork is another service with great potential. 

An airless sprayer by itself or an airless sprayer with a cart or robotic spray system is typically used to apply coatings and sealers.

product_Super_whip_img01.jpg st-_spraying_package_013-resized-600.jpg

 

How they work:  You connect the cart/robotic system to the liquid line of the airless sprayer and position the cart/robot at the far end of the duct you want to coat.  Then you spray as you pull the cart (or drive the robot) toward yourself.

Pluses: Is the most productive way to apply coating, sanitizers and sealers in ductwork that is to small to crawl.       

Minuses: Dealing with coatings and sealers can be messy and require set up and clean-up time.  

Where best to use: Rectangular ductwork that is 8" to 36" high no matter what the width and round ductwork that has a 18" to 36" diameter. 

Summary

All of these cleaning tools are used by air duct cleaning Contractors every day.  Based on the level of cleaning required you will select the cleaning tool that will give you  the level of cleaning you want while maximizing your  productivity.  Most contractors, over time, end up with a tool box that includes various cleaning tools. If you have any questions about this blog article, contact Peter Haugen, ASCS, CVI at 855-Vac-Systems, 952-808-1619 or phaugen@vacsysint.com.  

 

Additional Resource:

Selecting  the Right Cleaning Tool  Guide

Tags: air duct cleaning tools, commercial air duct cleaning

Selecting the right air duct cleaning tools for the job!

Posted by Peter Haugen on Wed, Mar 08, 2017 @ 03:19 PM

Part 1 – Cleaning Tools for Residential/Light Commercial Projects

Residential air duct cleaning contractors face the challenge of cleaning a wide variety of ducts; sheet metal, flex duct, ductboard, internally lined ductwork, etc. Unfortunately with this many different types of ductwork there is no one magic cleaning tool that can clean every type and size of duct.  Selecting the right cleaning tool(s) is important because 95% of the cost of air duct cleaning is your labor cost. Your goal is to achieve the desired level of cleanliness (source removal) as fast as possible. The more productive you are the more profitable you will be.

Before we look at the different cleaning tools we need to look at the different levels of cleaning that can be achieve.

Level 1 - Air Washing: Air washing is the use of high-pressure air that comes from the air compressor through an air hose to an air nozzle. This air nozzle delivers streams of high-pressure air, which dislodges the accumulated dirt and debris found in the duct.

Level 2 – Air Whips: An air whip is the combination of air washing (high-pressure air) with agitation from the whip(s). The high pressure of the air and whipping action dislodge the accumulated dirt and debris found in the duct. Air whips achieve a higher level of cleaning than air washing.

Level 3 – Brushing: Brushing (both manual and powered systems) makes physical contact with more of the interior surface of the duct. This brushing action effectively dislodges the accumulated dirt and debris found in the ductwork. Bushing achieves a higher level of cleaning than both air washing and air whips.

Level 3 – Contact vacuuming: Contact vacuuming makes physical contact with more of the interior surface of the duct. This contact vacuuming action effectively dislodges the accumulated dirt and debris found in the ductwork/furnaces/air handlers. Contact vacuuming achieves a higher level of cleaning than both air washing and air whips.

Now let’s look at the most common residential air duct cleaning tools

Air Washing Tools  

Air washing tools use the high-pressure air that comes from the air compressor through an on/off control, through an air hose/rod to an air nozzle. This air nozzle delivers streams of high-pressure air, which dislodges the accumulated dirt and debris. Normally the forward and reverse skipper line is 25’ long but some systems could be longer. The blowgun normally has an on/off control and 10”-14” copper tube which supplies a single high pressure air steam. We recommend (at minimum) an air compressor that has up to 175 psi, 18 cfm of air and 20 gallon receiver tank. This will give you acceptable air washing productivity

 air washing.png

Description: The most common types of air washing tools are the:

  • Forward skipper line (for blowing dirt/debris forward)
  • Reverse skipper line (for blowing dirt and debris backward)
  • Blowgun (for more precise air washing)

Pluses: Easy and quick to use, fits through a 1” hole, can negotiate turns and drops in the ductwork.

Minuses: Does not clean as well as air whips or brushes.

Where best to use: When you have light to medium dust in small and medium ductwork.  

Air Whip Systems

Air whips use the high-pressure air that comes from the air compressor through the on/off control, the rods and then to the whip head. The whip(s) thrashes around inside the duct making contact with some of that duct surface as it blows air forward. The single whip head gives you the most aggressive whipping action and the octopus whip head gives you the least aggressive whip action. If you don’t have enough air pressure (psi) and volume (cfm) the whip(s) will not thrash around properly. We recommend (at minimum) an air compressor that has up to 175 psi, 18 cfm of air and 20 gallon receiver tank.     

 vacsysint.png

 Description: A typical air whip system includes:

  • Three or more whip heads (single whip, tri whip and octopus whip heads)
  • Set of five foot flexible and non flexible rods
  • Forward and reverse air nozzles
  • Duct ball support assembly
  • On/off control (ball valve or trigger valve)

Pluses: Easy and quick to use, agitates and blows in one pass, will work in most ducts, cleans better than air washing alone, can negotiate turns and drops.

Minuses: Do not clean as well as brushes or contact vacuuming.

Where best to use: When you have light to medium dust in small and medium ductwork. 

Flexible Cable Brush Systems

You select the right size brush for the duct and conditions, attach it to the brush end of the cable, attached the other end of the cable to a portable drill. Insert the brush into the duct, pull the trigger on the drill and clean the duct as you push the cable/brush back and forth into the duct.   The nylon brushes can be use on most any duct surface while the silica carbide brushes are designed for aggressive cleaning on hard surfaces only.

Brush_flexible_cable.jpg

Description: These systems normally include the following:

  • 15’ or 25’ flexible cable
  • (3) nylon brushes (8”, 12” 18”)
  • (3) silica carbide brushes (8”, 12” 18”)

Pluses: Easy to use, makes contact with most of the duct surface, cleans ducts with turns and drops, cleans better than air washing and air whips.   More productive than manual brushes.  Some flexible cables now have a bearing in the drill end of the cable. The bearing reduces the internal friction/resistance in the cable which will minimize the twisting/kinking outside the duct and most important it will give you longer cable life

Minuses: Not repairable, not recommended for ducts larger than 16” x 16”.

Where best to use: All types (sheet metal, flex, ductboard, etc.) of small and medium size ductwork.   

Solid Core Cable Brush Systems

You select the right size brush for the duct and conditions, attach it to the brush end of the cable, attached the other end of the cable to a portable drill. Insert the brush into the duct, pull the trigger on the drill and clean the duct as you push the cable/brush back and forth into the duct.   The nylon brushes can be use on most any duct surface while the silica carbide brushes are designed for aggressive cleaning on hard surfaces only.

Brush_solid_core_cable.jpg

Description: These systems have a stiffer cable than the flexible cable and give you more control of the brush head. These systems normally include the following:

20’ or 33’ solid core cable

  • (3) nylon brushes (8”, 12” 18”)
  • (3) silica carbide brushes (8”, 12” 18”).

Pluses: Easy to use, makes contact with most of the duct surface, the stiffer cables gives you better control over where the brush is going, cleans better than air washing and air whips, if inner solid core breaks it is field replaceable.  

Minuses: Will not negotiate turns and drops very well. Eventually the inner solid core will break if used on turns.

Where best to use: All types of small and medium size ductwork and shafts that are relatively straight.  

Contact Vacuuming

You attach your cleaning tool (the 3” round soft bristle brush is used most often) to the hose that is connected to the vacuum, turn the unit on and vacuum the surface you are trying to clean. If its ductwork, you reach through your access opening and vacuum the duct as far as you can reach and then cut additional access openings as needed. If you are cleaning a small air handler, rooftop, furnace you typically remove the panels and  vacuum all the surfaces you can reach. On large air handlers, rooftops or ductwork you may actually be able to walk or crawl inside the unit and vacuum the required surfaces.

 hepa_vacs_img03.jpg

Description: Contact vacuuming is typically done with a HEPA filtered portable vac that has a set of vacuum cleaning tools (much like your home vacuum cleaner). Most systems include:

  • 10 or 15 gallon capacity HEPA filtered vacuum
  • Set of cleaning tools
  • 10’, 25’ or 50’ length of hose.

Pluses: Gives you excellent cleaning results.  

Minuses: Not very productive for cleaning small to medium size ductwork compared to other cleaning tools.  

Where best to use: air handlers, rooftops, furnaces and grilles/registers

Summary:

All of these cleaning tools are used by air duct cleaning Contractors every day. Based on the level of cleaning required you will select the cleaning tool that will give you the level of cleaning you want while maximizing your productivity. Most contractors, over time, end up with a tool box that includes various cleaning tools. If you have any questions about this blog article, contact Peter Haugen, ASCS, CVI at 855-Vac-Systems, 952-808-1619 or phaugen@vacsysint.com.  

Additional Resource:

Selecting  the Right Cleaning Tool  Guide

 Part 2 – Cleaning Tools for Commercial Projects - Next Month

 

Tags: air duct cleaning tools

Winning Strategies for Commercial Air Duct Cleaning

Posted by Peter Haugen on Wed, Feb 01, 2017 @ 01:00 AM

success puzzle.jpg  success ahead 4.jpg

Commercial air duct cleaning is different than residential air duct cleaning. The work hours are different; the HVAC systems are larger and more complex.  You’ll need more types of cleaning tools, more financial resources, more knowledge and more connections!  The challenges are many but the rewards are great - if you’re successful!  What do you need to do to be successful?  You need a winning strategy (plan of action) too help guide you.   This article will examine three topics that hopefully will help you grow your business. 

What Services Should I Offer?

Here is list of services to think about:

  • Inspection/documentation services: Many commercial projects require before and after visual documentation so you’ll need to this at minimum. If you go above and beyond that and offer professional Visual Inspections Services to the Indoor Air Quality community you not only create a new revenue stream but you will put yourself at the head of line if these inspection project turn into air duct cleaning projects. Your reputation within the Indoor Air Quality community will also grow, which will be good for your business.
  • Duct cleaning (supply, return, exhaust, etc): Ductwork comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are large enough to crawl through and clean while others must be cleaned with various cleaning tools (power brushes, air whips, air washing, and contact vacuuming). You typically put the ductwork under negative pressure from you vacuum collection system, cut access holes and zone off as needed, and then do your source removal.
  • Air handler cleaning and restoration: Air handles always have a fan but they also can include heating/cooling coils, filter banks, various dampers/mixing boxes, fresh air intakes etc. This will require a lot of surface cleaning, coil cleaning and some drain pan cleaning and refurbishment.
  • Coating HVAC systems: Some ductwork and air handlers have internal insulation. Over time this insulation can be degraded due to air erosion or fire and mold contamination. Sometimes it has to be removed and other times it can be cleaned and coated or replaced with close cell liner. This extends the life of the HVAC system and saves the building owner a significant amount. Applying coatings after the system has been cleaned requires some additional equipment.
  • Sealing HVAC systems: All HVAC systems have some leakage through the cracks, seams, and holes. Sealing these leaks is the best single thing you can do reduce energy cost of an HVAC system. Sealing like coating does require some additional equipment to do before and after leakage testing and equipment to apply the sealer. Sealing has a great return on investment for the building owner.
Offering these core services will allow you to satisfy most HVAC system inspection, cleaning and restoration needs.

Maximize Your Productivity:

Maximizing your productivity as you perform your services help you to: 

  • Maximize your profits on each project.
  • Gives you more time to do additional projects.
  • Makes you more competitive when you are bidding on projects because you can use a faster production rate and hopefully win more projects.
How do you improve your productivity? You examine your cleaning and other procedures and try to identify areas where you think improvement is possible. This may require doing things differently or getting new or different tools/equipment.

Here are some ideas:   

  • If there is a cleaning specification on the project, make sure all your questions are answered and that there are no gray areas. It’s these gray areas that can cause disagreements and delays. You want a clean straight forward cleaning specification to follow.
  • Do an inspection of the HVAC system to eliminate surprises that require extra time and resources to deal with. The most productive way to do an inspection is with a robotic inspection system.
  • Develop an estimating process that is flexible enough to account for a wide range of projects (simple to complex) yet gives you consistent results so you can compare results over time and make adjustments in production rates and labor rates to keep you competitive.
  • Isolate longer duct runs with each vacuum collection hook-up and eliminate the time required
  • To cut additional access openings, move and set up equipment. To do this you need a vacuum collection systemthat provides the longest lasting suction possible with good collection capacity.
  • Have cleaning tools that have a longer reach so you can clean longer duct runs from each access opening eliminating the need to cut additional access openings, move and set up equipment. This can be critical when ductwork is above a hard ceiling or underground or just with very limited access. Long reach cleaning systems and robotic systems typically have this longer reach.
  • Don’t waste time waiting for your compressor to charge up when you are air washing, air whipping or using pneumatic tools? At minimum you should use a compressor that can deliver 175 psi and 18 cfm of air with at least a 20 gallon receiver tank to minimize waiting. More air is more productivity!
  • If you are applying a coating or sealer in ductwork, don’t cut access opening every 5-10 ft and reach in with your hand help sprayer with extension wand. Maximize your coating productivity by using a cart or robotic spray system. With a cart you can spray up to 35’ in each direction from one access opening and up to 90’ in each direction with robotic spray systems.
  • There is not a huge difference in coatings. Most have EPA registered antimicrobials to protect the coating, meet NFPA requirements, are LEED certified, have good adhesion, etc. To help maximize your coating productivity however, pick a coating that you don’t need to stir or strain prior to spraying (stirring and straining is done to minimize the chance of getting a clogged spray tip which can cause a lot of wasted time).   All coatings give off some voc’s. You and your customer will be happier if you use a coating with the lowest possible voc’s.
  • If you drill 1” access holes in ductwork to use your cleaning tools minimize your metal shaving clean up time by using tools that capture these sometimes hot metal shavings before they fall

Target Your Marketing:

Where do you get the biggest bang for marketing effort? Here are some suggestions:

  • The best marketing in the world is to do a great job every time. Happy customers are happy to refer you to others. This could be a direct word of mouth referral or a testimonial or a job story that you can share with others.
  • If you offer a variety of services (air duct cleaning, restoration, carpet cleaning, etc) your non air duct cleaning customers are the first group you should market your air duct cleaning services to. You already have a relationship with them and you have already earned their trust. Let these people know you are now offering air duct cleaning services.
  • Get to know the commercial Mechanical Contractors in your market. This group can have the biggest impact on your success because they can hire you as a subcontractor. Create a data base of the commercial Mechanical Contractors in your area. Reach out to them and talk to them face to face so you can explain who you are, what you do and why you should be on their “approved bidders list.” Once on this list, you will be notified of upcoming projects they want you to bid on. Doing a good job will keep you on their “approved bidders list.”  

Summary:

Winning strategies will give you a road map to help you grow your business. We have just touched on winning strategies in three areas here, but there are many more. If you have any questions about this blog article, contact Peter Haugen, ASCS, CVI at 855-Vac-Systems, 952-808-1619 or phaugen@vacsysint.com.  
 
Additional Resource: 

Going from Residential to Commercial Air Duct Cleaning  Guide Intro to  Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide Intro to Estimating Commercial  Projects  Guide Intro to Coating & Sealing  HVAC Systems Guide 

Tags: grow your business, commercial air duct cleaning

Air Duct Cleaning: Chemicals used in HVAC systems

Posted by Peter Haugen on Fri, Dec 30, 2016 @ 11:33 AM

Chemicals Used in HVAC Systems.jpg

Introduction:

There is a lot of diversity of information regarding the use of chemicals, cleaners, sealants and coatings inside air handling systems. NADCA recognized the need to provide some direction in this complicated and evolving area and developed the “Chemical Product Application in HVAC Systems” white paper. This article is an overview of NADCA’s white paper and as such, it does not include all of the details of the white paper.   It does look at the major topic areas, however. 

It is generally agreed that source removal of contaminants remains the single best method for cleaning and decontaminating HVAC systems. However, chemicals may be applied within HVAC systems for a variety of reasons. This position paper provides an overview of the products and associated techniques utilized in and around HVAC systems.  

It is not necessary to apply chemical products to achieve source removal within an HVAC system. However, applying appropriate cleaning compounds may enhance the cleaning process (e.g., coils, hard surfaces, blowers). 

Safety:

Workers must be trained to follow procedures on the label and in the current MSDS bulletin for the safe use, handling, and storage of any product used to treat an HVAC system. Appropriate personal protective equipment must be worn, including respiratory protection if required. Correct application procedures must be understood and carried out to avoid hazards from failing to use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Types of Antimicrobial Products:

  • Antimicrobial pesticide
  • Sanitizer
  • Disinfectant
  • Fungicide
  • Fungistat
  • Bacteriostat
  • Algaestats 

Note: See the white paper for complete antimicrobial product definitions.  

EPA Requirements:

At this time, the EPA has not accepted any disinfectant, sanitizer or fungicidal products for use in the ductwork of HVAC systems. However, some of these products are accepted for use in other parts of HVAC systems. Those products which have been accepted by the EPA for use in the ductwork of HVAC systems includes ones with the following claims:

  • Fungistatic
  • Bacteriostatic
  • Inhibits odor-causing bacteria and fungi
  • Inhibits stain and damage-causing bacteria, fungi, and algae
  • Deodorizes
  • Inhibits fungi and algae
  • Cleaning (a non pesticidal activity; removal of contaminants)  

Antimicrobial products are available for the treatment of coils, drain pans and other related HVAC system surfaces. Refer to the EPA-accepted product label for specific directions for treatment of these surfaces. 

All antimicrobial pesticides for use in HVAC systems are required to be registered by the EPA. Products without specific HVAC directions are not to be used on these surfaces. A product has only been evaluated based on the directions for use listed on the label. The product is likely not to be effective if used in incorrect amounts or for a different dwell time. 

The label will also include the following information:

  • Specific pest(s) against which the product is effective (meaning that the product has only passed the testing requirements for those organisms listed on the label).
  • Sites (homes, hospitals, etc.) and surfaces (e.g., cooling coil) to which the product may be applied. This means that the product may only be used at those sites and on those surfaces which are identified on the label.
  • Type of equipment or method used to apply the product including application rate and contact time.
  • How often the product is applied. Reapply as directed by the label.
  • In order for the product to be effective it must be used in accordance with the directions for use (application method and rate, and dwell time).
  • Pesticide manufacturers may make available a diluted-solution or secondary-container-use label (which must be consistent with the EPA-approved label) when using concentrated products. 

Typical Use of Antimicrobial Products:

  • The major use of antimicrobial products in HVAC systems is for the inhibition of microbial growth on hard surfaces within components such as air handlers, fans and duct interiors.
  • Disinfectant products may be used in coils, drain pans, and other parts of the air handler.
  • HVAC components that have been exposed to flood water or sewage contamination should be assumed to contain disease-causing organisms and should be disinfected prior to being placed back into service. Since no disinfectants are registered for use in air ducts, systems that have been exposed to contamination from floods, sewage, or similar biological contamination must be evaluated by a qualified individual prior to being placed back into service. Cleaning alone may or may not be satisfactory. Replacement of such duct sections may be necessary.
  • Products chosen must include label directions detailing use in HVAC systems and their components and those directions must be followed. 

Application Method:

Antimicrobial products are generally applied through spraying, wiping or fogging. However, the application method chosen must be one that is in the label directions. Antimicrobials should only be applied after the surfaces have been cleaned. Surface soil or contamination can interfere with the efficacy of a product. When using any antimicrobial product, follow the directions carefully and use the personal protective equipment as directed by the label. 

Best Practices:

  • Follow instructions and safety precautions as per the EPA-accepted label.
  • Use in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep in original or properly marked container.
  • Label all containers. Where concentrated products are used, label containers holding diluted (ready to use) products.
Summary:

In addition to exploring antimicrobial products, the white paper also includes sections dealing with the following topics that are not covered in this article:

  • Sealants
  • Resurfacing Materials (repair coatings)
  • Coil Cleaning Compounds
  • Soap & Detergents
  • Degreasers

Using chemicals in addition to source removal is certainly not needed on every air duct cleaning project. But some projects do need the use of chemicals to satisfy project/customer requirements.  Be sure you understand what types of chemicals can be used and what components they can be used on.  It is highly recommended that you read and understand NADCA’s Chemical Product Application in HVAC Systems white paper (see link blow).  If you have any questions about this blog article, contact Peter Haugen, ASCS, CVI at 855-Vac-Systems, 952-808-1619 or phaugen@vacsysint.com.   

Additional Resources:

For more information please read NADCA’s:

 

Tags: air duct cleaning, chemicals use in HVAC systems

What Type of Vacuum Collection System is Right for You?

Posted by Peter Haugen on Fri, Dec 02, 2016 @ 03:28 PM

There is a wide selection of vacuum collection systems that you can choose from. This decision is important because the vacuum collection system you select has a big impact on:

  • What types of residential and commercial buildings you can or cannot clean.
  • Your air duct cleaning process.
  • Your operating cost.
  • Your productivity.
Any of these systems can be used on 1 & 2 story residential and light commercial air duct cleaning projects. On multistory commercial air duct cleaning projects, electric portables are the most popular choice. Let’s look at the different types of vacuum collection systems and their strengths (+) and weaknesses (-).

2007_Biltwell_Modified_Series_II_Vacuum_Truck.jpg

Big Truck Vacuum Collection Systems (gas):

+ Best performance (suction)

+ No zoning required

+ Best adverting impact

- Highest first cost ($70,000 to $140,000 includes collector, compressor and truck)

- Highest operating cost (gas)

- Highest maintenance cost

+ Can do 1-2 story residential and commercial buildings

- Can’t do multi-story buildings (apartments, condos, commercial)

SC_TG31_Plus.jpg 

Trailer/Truck Mounted Vacuum Collection Systems (gas):

+ Very good performance (suction)

+ Zoning not normally required

+ Very good adverting impact

- High first cost ($16,000 to $20,000 includes collector and compressor)

- High operating cost (gas)

- Medium maintenance cost

+ Can do 1-2 story residential and commercial buildings

- Can’t do multi-story buildings (apartments, condos, commercial)

supercollector_g20_02.jpg

Portable Gas Vacuum Collection Systems:

+ Very good performance (suction)

+ Zoning not normally required

- Medium first cost ($4,500 to $8,500)

- High operating cost (gas)

- Low maintenance cost

+ Can do 1-2 story buildings (residential & light commercial)

- Can’t do multi-story buildings (apartments, condos, commercial)

e2_front_view__05.jpg

Portable Electric Vacuum Collection Systems:

+ Good performance (suction)

- Zoning normally required

+ Lowest first cost ($3,000 to $10,000)

+ Lowest operating cost

+ Lowest maintenance cost

+ Can do 1-2 story buildings  (residential & commercial)

+ Can do multi-story buildings (apartments, condos, commercial)

Summary

Within these different types of vacuum collection systems, there are also several choices (from different manufactures) to choose from. So be sure to do your homework before you decided.   Get several proposals with all the technical information.  Think about the type of work you want to do and which type of vacuum collection system will best meet your requirements.  This decision will have a significant impact on your business. 

If you have any questions about this blog article, contact Peter Haugen, ASCS, CVI at 855-Vac-Systems, 952-808-1619 or phaugen@vacsysint.com.

 

Additional Resources: 

Intro to  Residential   Air Duct Cleaning  Guide  Going from Residential to Commercial Air Duct Cleaning  Guide  Intro to  Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide

Tags: vacuum collection system

Air Duct Cleaning: How to Handle Air Handlers

Posted by Peter Haugen on Fri, Nov 04, 2016 @ 09:52 AM

McQuay air handler in mechanical room.jpg   McQuay rooftop.jpg 

Air Handlers are the heart of any HVAC system. They move the air (with a fan) and may also clean (filter) the air and condition (heat, cool, humidify) the air.  Air Handlers come in all shapes and sizes from the furnace in your home to a 40’ long commercial rooftop unit to a 5-15 ton packaged rooftop units you see on the roofs of most strip malls and office parks. 

Surface Cleaning Options:

An air handler can contain some or all of the following components: fan, motor, coils (heating or cooling or both), condensate/drain pan, and filters, fresh air intakes, mixing boxes.   You can’t clean all of these components the same way so let’s look at your cleaning options:

  • Contact vacuuming is probably the most popular air handler cleaning tool. You can contact vacuum all of the internal surfaces (sheet metal and insulation if it’s in good shape), fans, motors, walls, ceiling/floor, coils, drain pans etc.
  • Air washing with high pressure air can be used if you have the air handler under negative pressure (to control and collect the dirt/debris) from your vacuum collection system.
  • Pressure washer can be used on large air handlers without internal insulation where you can control the water flow. You must protect the motor and other electrical components however.
  • In many cases you will use several of these cleaning methods on one air handler. The desired end result however it so remove the accumulated dirt and debris from all the air stream surfaces.

Coil Cleaning

Coil cleaning improves the heat transfer capability of the coil which will lower energy cost and improve comfort. There are two types of coil cleaning:

  • Type 1 (dry cleaning of loose dust and debris on the coil surface)
  • Type 2 (wet cleaning of adhered debris on coil, drain pan and drain line surfaces).
  • A visual inspection will help you to determine which type of coil cleaning is needed. If the inspection reveals microbial contamination then you should use Type 1 and then Type 2 cleaning. If the inspection reveals fins that are damaged, deteriorating or showing signs of corrosion replacement may be necessary.

Type 1 coil cleaning (dry cleaning of loose dust and debris on the coil surface) may include a variety of methods to thoroughly remove accumulated debris including:

  • Contact vacuuming with HEPA filtered vacuum.
  • Brushes for penetrating between coil fins.
  • Using compressed air to blow out accumulated debris.
  • Using fin straightening tools.
  • If debris is still present after Type 1 cleaning then Type 2 cleaning shall be done.  

Type 2 coil cleaning (wet cleaning of adhered debris on coil, drain pan and drain line surfaces) shall be done only after Type 1 cleaning has been completed and may include:

  • Application of coil cleaner (in accordance with manufacturer ’s instructions). It is recommended that coil cleaning solution that is close to PH neutral be used.
  • Water washing at normal water line pressure.
  • Pressure washing equipment.
  • Hot water or steam cleaning equipment.
  • Condensate drain pan and line shall be cleaned and flushed.
  • Precautions shall be taken to capture rinse water when cleaning coils without a drain pain.
  • When cleaning electric resistance coils the power source shall be de-energized and locked out/tagged out. If wet cleaning, the coil should be thoroughly rinsed and dried prior to being re-energized.
  • If debris cannot be removed using Type 2 cleaning methods, replacement may be necessary. Visual observation of the coil surface can be misleading; therefore it is recommended that a static pressure drop measurement be obtained before and after cleaning to demonstrate the effectiveness of coil cleaning.    

Dealing with Fiberglass

Many air handlers have internal fiberglass insulation. You need to take a good look at the insulation to determine if the insulation is in good enough condition to withstand the rigor of cleaning. If the insulation is not in a cleanable condition then it must be removed. Depending on the condition of the insulation you have the following options:  

If the insulation is in good condition (cleanable)

  • You can contact vacuum it.
  • You can contact vacuum it and then apply an insulation repair coating. This is an economical way to improve the insulation surface and extend the life of the air handler. The coating locks down any remaining loose fibers, gives you a more durable air stream surface that is more resistant to air erosion and water, locks in and isolates any mold spores and smoke particulate remaining after cleaning, and is easier to clean in the future.

If the insulation is damaged, deteriorated (not cleanable)

  • Remove the insulation and clean the air handler.  You lose the acoustical and thermal benefits of the insulation plus it’s very hard to get all the fiberglass fibers out of the glue used to hold the insulation in place.
  • Remove the insulation and apply a coating over the cleaned surface to lock down any remaining fibers.
  • Remove the insulation and replace it with new insulation. Over time the new insulation will degrade just like the insulation you just removed unless a coating has been applied.
  • Remove insulation and replace with close cell liner. Closed cell liner is a good long lasting solution.

Drain Pans

Drain pans can be the most challenging surface in an air handler to clean and restore. Constant exposure to moisture can cause corrosion.  Severe corrosion will lead to leaks.   Preventative maintenance and restoration of a drain pan cost significantly less (in both time and money) than drain pan replacement. There are several products on the market designed specifically for drain pan refurbishment (Pancrete, Panseal, Safe Encasement, etc).  Only submersion or immersion rated coatings should be used. 

  • Cleaning via power washing, scrapping, wire brushing is typically required prior to coating.
  • Some coatings require the mixing of two different components together.
  • Some coatings require a submersible primer to be totally dry/cured before the submersible top coat is applied.
  • Most of these coatings can be applied with a brush, roller or spray equipment. When done properly these drain pan coatings deliver a refurbished drain pan that looks good and will last for years.

Summary 

Air handlers come in all shapes and sizes and you need to be able to clean and refurbish them as needed. You have several cleaning methods to choose from and several options to clean and refurbish deal coils, fiberglass insulation and drain pans. 

If you have any questions about this blog article, contact Peter Haugen, ASCS, CVI at 855-Vac-Systems, 952-808-1619 or phaugen@vacsysint.com. Click on the following links for additional information on Coating HVAC Systems and Closed Cell Insulation

 

Tags: cleaning air handlers

Knock knock - Who’s there? – The Air Duct Cleaning Opportunity!

Posted by Peter Haugen on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 @ 11:14 AM

duct_cleaning_before_after.pngopportunity_5.jpg

Air duct cleaning represents a great business opportunity as a stand-alone business or as an add-on to an existing business.  Air duct cleaning offers good benefits for contractors and good benefits for customers.     

Is there a need for air duct cleaning?

Yes. Not every home or building needs to have its air ducts cleaned today, but there is a good possibility that over time the clean air ducts of today will become the dirty air ducts of tomorrow.  Inadequate filtration, pets, activities within the building or home, renovation and construction debris, and microbial contamination are just some of the reasons why air duct systems become dirty and/or contaminated. 

Plus, the concern and need for good indoor air quality and better energy efficiency will probably never go away.   Yes, the market for air duct cleaning is strong today and should remain strong for a long time. 

Contractor Benefits:

Many contractors are looking for ways to expand and grow their business.  It makes sense to consider a service that compliments their existing business and offers the following benefits:  

  • Good profit margins of 40-60%
  • Low start-up cost
  • Great earning potential
  • Easy entry - already have business, marketing systems in place
  • Helps you to better serve your existing customers
  • Helps you bring in new customers
  • Delivers great customer benefits
    • Improved indoor air quality
    • Improved HVAC system efficiency

Types of Contractors:

Offering air duct cleaning services complements and fits in very nicely with the following types of businesses:

  • HVAC/Mechanical Contractors: They already have extensive knowledge of the HVAC system and have the skill set to clean all of the components in the HVAC system. There is not a better or easier time to clean HVAC system than when they are changing out a furnace or air handler.
  • Mold Remediation Contractors: Many times the cleaning, sanitizing and sometime coating HVAC systems is required as part of the remediation project.
  • Fire/Water Remediation Contractors: Many times the cleaning and sometime coating HVAC systems is required as part of the remediation project.
  • Asbestos Abatement Contractors: Many times the cleaning and sometime coating HVAC systems is required as part of the abatement project.
  • Carpet Cleaning Contractors: Is another service to offer that can maximize the revenue per customer.
  • Chimney Sweeps: Is another service to offer that can maximize the revenue per customer.
  • Stand – alone air duct cleaning contractors: Many individuals have become successful air duct cleaning contractors. 

Anyone with ambition, who is willing to learn how HVAC systems operate, and how to properly clean them, can be a successful air duct cleaning contractor.

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

Air duct cleaning is more than cleaning air ducts.  A more appropriate term to use would be “HVAC system cleaning.”  The HVAC system includes everything in the air stream.  The goal is to remove all of the accumulated dirt, debris and other contamination found in the system.  This is called source removal.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) has developed a list of basic cleaning tasks for residential air duct cleaning.  This list includes the following activities:

  • Visual inspection before and after cleaning.
  • Remove, clean and replace supply registers and return grilles.
  • Clean supply ductwork and plenum.
  • Clean return ductwork and plenum.
  • Install access openings as needed and reseal after cleaning.
  • Clean blower motor and assembly.
  • Clean air steam side of heat exchanger.
  • Clean secondary heat exchanger.
  • Clean evaporator coil and drain pan.
  • Wash air cleaner
  • Replace air filter.

In addition many Contractors also offer:

  • System sanitizing.
  • Dryer vent cleaning.
  • Installation of UV lights

What equipment is needed?

In generic terms a typical equipment package to inspect, clean and decontaminate HVAC systems will include:

  • Vacuum collection system
  • Agitation/cleaning tools
  • Power brushing system(s)
  • Air whip system(s)
  • Air washing tools
  • Air compressor
  • HEPA filtered wet/dry vacuum
  • Duct accessing tools and service panels
  • Visual inspection system
  • Sanitizer and fogger, coil cleaner, etc.
  • Personnel safety equipment
  • Miscellaneous items (hand tools, ladders, drop cloths, etc.).
  • Plus you may need a truck or trailer to transport the equipment.

What does it cost to get into air duct cleaning?

The cost to get into air duct cleaning will be determined by the type of air duct cleaning you want to offer (residential or commercial or both), the type of equipment you select and the level of cleaning and services you want to offer.  For residential air duct cleaning costs start at approximately $6,000 and up and commercial air duct cleaning costs start at approximately $9,000 and up.  Equipment suppliers can typically give you several options to choose from so you can decide what will best fit your needs and budget.

Summary:

Air duct cleaning represents a great business opportunity as a stand-alone business or as an add-on to an existing business.  Air duct cleaning offers good benefits for the contractors and good benefits for the customer.  The need for air duct cleaning services is strong and will remain strong for a long time.  Knock knock - Who’s there? - Opportunity! 

If you have any questions of want more information contact: Peter Haugen, President of Vac Systems International, at phaugen@vacsysint.com or 855-Vac-Systems or 952-808-1619.   

Additional Resources:

Intro to  Residential   Air Duct Cleaning  Guide  Going from Residential to Commercial Air Duct Cleaning  Guide  Intro to  Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide

 

 

Tags: air duct cleaning, business opportunity, energy efficiencey, indoor air quality

Tired of cleaning up the metal shavings from your vari-bit, uni-bit or hole saw?

Posted by Peter Haugen on Fri, Sep 09, 2016 @ 09:21 AM

DSCN6579.jpg

Looking for a better way? Look no further than the new Shavings Magnet Tool!  Its strong magnets secure the tool to the sheet metal ductwork and then captures the metal shavings as you drill your access hole. This demo video shows you how easy it is to use. 

When your done cleaning, close and seal the access hole with a tough UL listed 2” round tape disc that complies with NFPA and NADCA requirements.  Bottom line - Shavings Magnet Tool drastically reduces your metal shavings clean-up time which maximizes your productivity every time you drill an access hole!

If you have any questions on this new air duct cleaning tool contact: Peter Haugen, President of Vac Systems International, at phaugen@vacsysint.com or 855-Vac-Systems or 952-808-1619 or download the Shavings Magnet Tool spec sheet today! 

 

Tags: productivity, air duct cleaning tool, metal shavings

Getting to know the NADCA General Specification!

Posted by Peter Haugen on Thu, Sep 01, 2016 @ 11:24 AM

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Why is this important? Many HVAC renovation projects that include air duct cleaning requirements use the “NADCA General Specification for the Cleaning and Restoration of Commercial HVAC Systems” as a template or as the basis for the project specification. The better you know and understand the NADCA specification the easier and quicker you will be able to complete your bid/quote for that project. 

The NADCA General Specification is written as an Owner’s/Architect/Mechanical Contractor/General Contractor specification. It serves as a starting point but then it must be modified for each project to accurately account the specific requirements of that project. It describes the minimum requirements necessary to coordinate a successful commercial HVAC system cleaning project.

If there is no specification on a potential project, you can offer to create one for the building owner/owner representative. In doing so, you can start with the NADCA General Specification and then modify it to fit that project and your preferred cleaning methods and tools. This may give you a slight advantage in preparing your bid/quote for that project.

The following is an outline or overview of the various sections in the NADCA General Specifications:

Part 1 -- Special Provisions

1.01 Qualification of the HVAC System Cleaning Contractor

(A) Membership

(B) Certification

(C) Supervisor Qualifications

(D) Experience

(E) Equipment, Materials and Labor

(F) Licensing

1.02 Standards

(A) NADCA Standards

1.03 Documents

(A) Mechanical Drawings

Part 2 -- HVAC System Cleaning Specifications and Requirements

2.01 Scope of Work

(A) Scope (describes what items are to be cleaned)

2.02 HVAC System Inspections and Site Preparations

(A) HVAC System Evaluation

(B) Site Evaluation and Preparations

(C) Inspector Qualifications

2.03 General HVAC System Cleaning Requirements

(A) Containment

(B) Particulate Collection

(C) Controlling Odors

(D) Component Cleaning

(E) Air-Volume Control Devices

(F) Service Openings

(G) Ceiling sections (tile)

(H) Air distribution devices (registers, grilles & diffusers)

(I) Air handling units, terminal units, blowers and exhaust fans

(J) Duct Systems

2.04 Health and Safety

(A) Safety Standards

(B) Occupant Safety

(C) Disposal of Debris

2.05 Mechanical Cleaning Methodology

(A) Source Removal Cleaning Methods

(B) Methods of Cleaning Fibrous Glass Insulated Components

(C) Damaged Fibrous Glass Material

(D) Cleaning of coils

(E) Biocidal Agents and Coatings

2.06 Cleanliness Verification

(A) General

(B) Visual Inspection

(C) Verification of Coil Cleaning

2.07 Pre-existing System Damage

2.08 Post-project Report

2.09 Applicable Standards and Publications

The NADCA_General_Specifications gives you more detail and depth of information for each of these sections. I encourage you to go through this specification in detail. The better you understand it the easier it will be to prepare your bid/quote. 

If you have any questions please contact Peter Haugen at phaugen@vacsysint.com, 855-Vac-Systems, or 952-808-1619.

Additional Resources:

ACR 2013 the NADCA Standard for Assessment, Cleaning, Restoration of HVAC Systems

Intro to  Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide  Going from Residential to Commercial Air Duct Cleaning  Guide

Tags: NADCA General Specification

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