The Importance of Commercial HVAC Duct Cleaning and Indoor Air Quality

The Importance of Commercial HVAC Duct Cleaning and Indoor Air Quality

by | Commercial HVAC, Facility Maintenance, Facility Management, Preventative Maintenance

Commercial HVAC DuctworkThe air quality you breathe at home should be of the same high standard in the places that you shop or restaurants you dine in.  Therefore scheduling a commercial HVAC duct cleaning program in your multi-site retail/restaurant location is paramount.

The air quality we breathe in daily, indoor and outdoor can have an immediate effect in our comfort.  But, it can also affect your business’s bottom line.

You may have noticed, for those in a populated city, that there are air quality warnings and protocols that city administrators ask residents to follow.  Such as filling your gas up in the afternoon, or taking advantage of carpools.

With all of the regulations made in our outdoor air quality maintenance, you’d be surprised if we told you that the indoor air quality of your business may actually be worse.

The EPA has stated that indoor air contains 2 to 5 times more toxins than outdoor air.  Let that sink in for a bit.

To even further this discussion, the average person spends 90 percent of their time inside, working, studying, or just spending time with the family.

Thus, establishing a commercial HVAC duct cleaning program for your heating and cooling systems carries even more weight.

Here’s a helpful guide to common questions facility managers, property managers and business owners ask about duct cleaning and air quality.

How Poor Indoor Air Quality Can Affect Your Customer’s Health

Dirty vs Clean Commercial HVAC FilterKeep in mind that poor air quality in your multi-site location or place of business may not necessarily be visible, rather create severe discomfort to your customers.  And potentially health problems.

Some of the most common side effects of poor indoor air quality can include eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory problems, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and fatigue.

And, sometimes poor air quality may not create health problems, rather discomfort.  Again, this can affect your business’s bottom line.

However, the possible long-term side effects can include respiratory illness, heart disease, and cancer – as stated by the EPA.  Though this is not immediate, rather over time from extended exposure.

These situations should give you enough reason to a high level of air quality through cleaning your ducts and changing filters.

4 Common Causes To Poor Indoor Air Quality

  1. Humidity – If your restaurant or business has an excess amount of humidity, you are susceptible to fungi, mold, mildew and other disease-causing bacteria. Typically, humidity is the cause of poor ventilation in humid areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens.  But, can also include leaky plumbing and poorly maintained HVAC systems.
  2. Ventilation – Unfortunately, an inexperienced commercial HVAC contractor may not understand the importance of mechanical engineering designs, thus resulting in a poor HVAC system design. This can include the trapping of pollutants inside workspaces of multi-site locations or businesses.  To keep the proper circulation of air flow, outside air is required.
  3. Outdoor – Most of the time, you can not control your outdoor circumstances. But, poor outdoor air quality can include all sorts of contaminants that will flow into your business.  Typically smoke, smog, vehicle exhaust, industrial exhaust, radon, and pollen.  Again, most of these issues are out of your control, unfortunately.
  4. Dust – Have you walked into a business and looked at the ceiling, and seen thick layers of dust? Now think about your home. Though it may not be as bad, but a typical single-family home can produce as much as 40 pounds of dust in 12 months.  Businesses and multi-site retail/restaurants will produce a higher volume of dust naturally.  And, the only way to mitigate this is by continues cleaning of the ducts, and simply vacuuming the workspaces.

These 4 common causes of poor air quality, as mentioned, are sometimes out of your control.  It’s the nature of running a successful business. However, you should do whatever you can to remove the sources, most of the times, the best solution is setting up a commercial HVAC duct cleaning program.

Is Air Quality Testing Necessary?

Air quality testing for your restaurant or multi-site retail space isn’t always necessary.  Especially after scheduling a ductwork cleaning in your business.  However, if your employees are experiencing health issues or regular customers – or you are smelling musty odors that just won’t go away – then you may have a larger problem.  This can be signs of mold and/or contaminants in other areas.  At this point scheduling, an air quality test is necessary.

Do Dirty Ducts Really Effect Air Quality?

Depending on how large your business is, and the type of business you operate (warehouses could be different), the air in a workplace travels through your commercial HVAC system and ductwork about 5 to 7 times each day.

If the ducts in your business have not been cleaned in a long time, that means pollutants in the air can get trapped in the walls of your ducts, and build up over time.

Now couple that with mold and mildew, and it’s no surprise that they can grow inside the ducts.  As you probably are thinking now, this is blown into the building and workplace, daily.

But, it actually gets worse!

Obviously, the pollutants are airborne in your business now. But, you may not realize that insects and vermin can travel through your ductwork.  It’s not uncommon to find nests from pests hiding in the ductwork.  And, when that happens, the droppings from these pests will create even more contaminants.  All of this is what you and your staff will be breathing in daily.

Does A Clean Duct Equal Efficient HVAC Equipment?

In most situations, yes.  Typically, dirty ductwork makes your commercial HVAC unit work harder and run longer to heat and cool spaces.  As this persists, you’ll notice this in your business:

  • The HVAC system has difficulty reaching set temperatures.
  • There are hot and cold areas in different places in the building.
  • Your energy consumption and bills continue to increase.
  • Your breakdowns and repairs continue to climb.

With all of these problems, eventually, the inevitable will happen, and your HVAC system will need to be replaced, years before it’s actual expectancy.

The cost of establishing a commercial HVAC duct cleaning program outweighs the cost of replacing your HVAC units.

Signs Of Needing To Schedule A Commercial HVAC Duct Cleaning Appointment

Here are 4 common signs that you need a duct cleaning

  1. An excessive amount of dust coming from the registers.
  2. Increasing quantities of dust building up on fixtures and furniture.
  3. Unexplainable odors that just don’t go away.
  4. The appearance of mold growth on walls and ceilings or uncontrolled humidity.

But, to be safe, the best way to make sure you need your business’s ducts cleaned is to hire a professional mechanical contractor to inspect your entire system.

A lot of the times, this can be bundled into a preventative maintenance program.

What Cadence Do Your Ducts Need To Be Cleaned?

There really isn’t a standard amount of time/months that require to have your ductworks cleaned – like a typical preventative maintenance program.  However, it’s not uncommon to have them done between 2 to 4 times per year.

But, this all varies based on the type of business you operate.  Are you open 24 hours per day? Do you have extended business hours?  Or are your normal operating hours from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm?  How often are the doors opened and closed?  Do you have other equipment that affects heating and cooling?

This is one of the reasons why many commercial HVAC vendors do not include duct cleaning with their preventative maintenance program.  But, it doesn’t hurt to ask either.

What’s Involved In The Duct Cleaning Process?

For the most part, it’s a fairly straight forward process, but it also requires specialized equipment and tools, as well as a highly trained HVAC technician.

Here are the 3 common steps used for commercial HVAC duct cleaning:

  • Grills and Registers Cleaned – All registers and grills will be removed and cleaned with an EPA approved cleaning agent. And, sometimes, technicians will install an access door to provide access to the ductwork.
  • Cleaning The Interior Ducts – As long as the ductwork is accessible, the interior surfaces will be cleaned using special equipment and direct source removal techniques, such as a HEPA vacuum.
  • Replacing Grills & Closing Hatches – Once the ducts have been cleaned, registers and grills will be placed back to the original locations, and proper seals will be applied to access hatches in the ductwork system.

In addition, it’s not uncommon that your commercial HVAC provider will also recommend other maintenance and repair after cleaning your ducts.  This can include changing filters, cleaning coils, and servicing blower motors and fans.  This is mainly because the filthy HVAC equipment can cause further problems to the units.

Is It Necessary To Use Chemicals To Clean Your Ducts?

In most cases, it is not necessary to use any type of cleaning agents or abrasive cleaners.  Typically, the most common approach involves physically removing all contaminants.

However, cleaning agents can help the process.  Some simple cleaning agents can include soap, detergent or degreasers.

And, it’s not uncommon to use sealants, coating, or deodorizers.

In some of the most extreme cases, if chemicals are necessary to clean your ducts and/or other HVAC components, your business may need to close for a period of time while this procedure is being done.  But, again, this is not a common practice – only in the most extreme situations.

Are you ready to schedule your commercial HVAC duct cleaning?  Not sure if you need it?  The only way to confirm this is to follow the above guidelines and contact a reputable commercial HVAC company in your area.  And, sometimes that may include a national HVAC company.

About CMI Mechanical HVAC and Refrigeration

CMI Mechanical LogoCMI Mechanical has been servicing its customers for over 40 years in the commercial space.  With our long-term experience in service and maintenance with every major heating and cooling system on the market, we can help you through the lifecycle of your HVAC/R system.

CMI Mechanical has a reputation of being challenged with the toughest jobs throughout the United States, with legacy equipment, in remote locations.

As CMI Mechanical continues to provide solutions for customers, more and more multi-site retail stores and restaurants continue to expand their business because of the trust and reputation this organization has created.

When you become a CMI Mechanical customer, you’ll experience the following:

  • Response times typically in under 2-hours.
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  • Fair pricing for maintenance, service, and repair.
  • Expert HVAC technicians helping solve all of your problems.
  • Regional and nationwide coverage for HVAC and refrigeration.
  • Dedicated account managers that know all the details about your business.

Are You Ready To Experience The CMI Mechanical Difference?

Challenge CMI Mechanical with your toughest HVAC project.  Anytime.  Anywhere.  All you have to do is contact our National Director of Business Development, Javier Lozano, Jr., and he’ll schedule a strategy call to discuss your needs.  These calls are complimentary, as they allow for both parties to evaluate the opportunity.

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The experiences I have had with the CMI team out of Denver has been nothing but positive.  If conversations for HVAC or national Boiler services were to open up, I will most definitely reach out to you.

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Facilities Manager, REI Co-Op