From the 20 December 2019
Deferred maintenance is a serious problem that often goes overlooked. While taking this approach may seem to save money, in reality, the hidden costs of deferred maintenance compound over time. Did you know that a Pacific Partners Consulting Group study showed $1 saved now costs $4 in capex later? Well, this is especially true for the HVAC system.
Putting off routine maintenance of the HVAC system impacts building operations and occupant safety. When one area of the system gets compromised, other parts are affected too. Let’s take a look at how these key areas create a chain reaction that leads to higher operating costs.
The main function of the HVAC system is to exchange air in a building and regulate comfort. Filters are responsible for keeping the air clean. If filters are not regularly changed, these become clogged. This restricts airflow and static pressure. So, particulates then find other ways into the air handling unit. This happens through gaps in the filter housing or worse, holes in the cabinet itself.
Particulates build up on the inside components of air handling units—the walls, blower motor housing, drain pan, and especially the evaporator coils. When coils get dirty, airflow and static pressure are again compromised. So, it is harder to regulate the temperature and humidity, or comfort, in the building.
This buildup also gets damp and becomes a food source for bacteria and fungi. When microbes spread so do foul odors, mold spores, and allergens. Then, building occupants could suffer from headaches, sinus congestion, and eye irritation. Or worse, they might experience allergen and asthma attacks.
It’s been proven that deferred maintenance causes indoor air quality issues that affect building occupants. Recent studies from Harvard/State University of New York found a correlation between indoor air quality and cognitive functions. This adds up to losses in productivity and an increase in sick days. The United States Centers for Disease Control estimates a loss of $60 billion dollars a year in productivity due to poor indoor air quality.
Deferring HVAC maintenance also degrades energy efficiency. Consider that 3/16 inch of fouling on the evaporator coils drops their efficiency by more than 20%. Dirty coils restrict airflow and static pressure, as well as altering the heat transfer rate. This makes the blower motor run longer in order to achieve the desired thermal set point. The change in heat transfer also compromises set points in the chilled water system which, in turn, further decreases energy efficiency.
HVAC units under constant stress fail, plain and simple. Motors running longer wear out belts, bearings, and bushings. Clogged drain pans overflow and cause structural damage. Wiring might overheat or short circuit that could result in fires. Cooling lines crack and leak.
This causes flooding with a chilled water system. In a condenser system cracked lines cause gas leaks that present a safety issue to occupants. Each of these scenarios create major disruptions to operations. Not to mention the steady stream of work orders and additional costs to fix them.
Most think preventive maintenance programs are expensive. But, HVAC deferred maintenance really adds up in the long run. It’s like Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So, what are some practical things to do that keep HVAC systems optimized?
Believe it or not, many organizations do not keep a detailed inventory of their HVAC systems. This data often varies from building to building. A good inventory provides insights into the specifications, age, and history of equipment. This is helpful for routine maintenance, as well as planning for restoration or replacement. If you don’t have an inventory of HVAC equipment or it’s incomplete, now is the time to create or improve this information. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways including using a manual accounting ledger or with software solutions, of which there are plenty to choose from. It all depends on your organization’s technology needs and budget.
Conduct cleanliness and performance tests to report on the condition of HVAC units. These HVAC health assessments provide visibility for prioritizing and planning maintenance. This is especially useful when there are many air handler units in a facility or across a campus of buildings.
It helps identify and prevent potential problems. This service is an important step in recovering from deferred maintenance. Static pressure testing (both upstream and downstream from the coils), as well as airflow testing in cubic feet per minute can be conducted on a semi-annual or even quarterly schedule to ensure optimal operating conditions.
Routine cleaning of air handling units is important for good indoor air quality and energy efficiency. Conventional chemical spray methods do help with surficial cleaning and some odor control. However, steam cleaning methods use high temperature and low pressure to deep clean and disinfect equipment. There are many case studies and white papers that demonstrate pure steam coil cleaning effectively optimizes building health and equipment performance.
Depending on the use of the facility and outcome of routine testing it is recommended that coils are cleaned on an annual basis. Products such as antimicrobial bio-enzyme treatments generally offer protection for up to one year.
Cleaning ductwork after periods of deferred maintenance requires extra care. Be sure that the duct cleaning is focused on indoor air quality and engineered to prevent cross contamination. The process must clean every component associated with the duct system. This includes VAV terminals and reheat coils that are often ignored or are not written into the specification. It is also recommended to hire NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association)-certified duct cleaning professionals. Duct cleaning should be considered on an annual or bi-annual basis. Of course, this depends on the building use. Again, routine HVAC system testing will provide visibility into duct cleanliness.
Some building owners and managers think they need to replace all aging HVAC equipment. This is simply not true. The mechanical inventory and an HVAC assessment provides data for restoration or replacement. HVAC restoration is viable option that is much less than the cost of replacement. A total restoration should include steam cleaning along with specialized coatings, pan liners, and insulation.
Other upgrades such as ECM fan array retrofits can greatly increase the energy efficiency and longevity of HVAC equipment. ECM, or DC, fan motors operate in tandem with one another and are variable speed. These replace the AC motor and giant blower wheel. Multiple ECM fans are configured in a wall to provide the same cubic feet per minute as the old blower. If one of the ECM fans fail, the others in the array make up the difference until the fan can be replaced. Finally, with restoration there is no need for redesign, disruption, temporary cooling, and equipment disposal.
HVAC systems are key to maintaining optimized building operations and occupant health. There are quite a few cost-effective solutions available to routinely manage HVAC cleanliness and performance. It should be incumbent upon facility executives to make these into best practices, so that HVAC deferred maintenance becomes a thing of the past.
The New Year is commonly seen as a fresh start and a time to set goals. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are to exercise more, diet and save money. If you’re one of those people planning on saving more in the New Year, you may want to start by taking a look at your utility bill as a way to cut costs in 2020. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, families can cut their energy bill by as much as 20% or 30% by doing proper equipment maintenance. Many homeowners turn to air duct cleaning to help save money on their energy bills.
Many everyday activities you do within your home can contaminate the air with unseen pollutants such as chemicals, dust and dander. A heating and cooling system functions much like the lungs of a building, circulating the air throughout the home. Over time, this recirculation can cause a buildup of contaminants within the ductwork. Dirty systems, especially dirty coils, use up to 30% more energy to heat or cool the home. Meanwhile, dirty filters block airflow through the system, causing it to work harder to achieve the desired temperature.
Having your home’s air ducts thoroughly cleaned can allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean systems typically have a longer lifespan and operate more effectively than dirty systems, leading to lower utility bills.
Servicing your furnace and air conditioning unit regularly and replacing filters can go a long way toward maintaining clean air ducts. However, filters can’t catch everything. The most effective method of cleaning air ducts and a ventilation system is through source removal — the process to remove built-up dirt and debris. This requires a professional contractor to place the system under negative pressure using a specialized, powerful vacuum. While the vacuum draws air through the system, brushes, air whips and compressed air nozzles are inserted into the air ducts to remove any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces. The debris can then travel through the air ducts and into the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home. The result: cleaner, fresher indoor air and a more efficient system, leading to a reduced energy bill.
Get a head start on your New Year’s resolution and hire an air duct cleaner you can trust. Use the Find a Professional Directory to locate a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) near you. NADCA members have advanced training and follow a higher standard in cleaning. This means they will have your HVAC system running more efficiently and saving you money in no time.
You’ve probably already taken a few moments to reflect on the past and set goals for the year ahead. If you’re like most of us, your New Year’s resolutions probably included being healthy and saving money!
Why not start the year off with a healthier home with cleaner air? That’s right. Kick those resolutions off with an air duct cleaning service from a local contractor who’s a NADCA member. Air duct cleaning is not only a great way to ensure you and your family are breathing clean, healthy air — it can also improve your home’s energy efficiency, and save you money!
Just as the surfaces in your home become dirty over time, so can your air ducts. Through normal, everyday life, we generate plenty of contaminants and air pollutants like dander, dust, and chemicals. All those contaminants are pulled into your home’s HVAC system, and recirculated an average of five to seven times per day. Yuck!
Dirty air ducts can contribute to larger health issues, especially for those with respiratory conditions, auto-immune disorders, or asthma and allergies. Indoor air pollutants can also lead to irritated eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
By simply removing everyday pollutants, air duct cleaning can vastly improve your indoor air quality.
The benefits of air duct cleaning don’t stop with improving your indoor air quality — clean air ducts can help you save money! A clean HVAC system is more efficient, and doesn’t use as much energy to maintain a comfortable temperature, ultimately saving you money on monthly utility costs.
According to Energy Star, in a typical home, 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the ductwork is lost due to leaks. Making sure your air ducts are sealed properly is essential for saving energy. To maintain an efficient HVAC system, NADCA recommends getting your air ducts inspected at least once a year, and cleaned as needed. Your professional air duct cleaner will be able to assess the condition of your air ducts, and pinpoint any problem areas or leaks during the inspection and cleaning process. This annual assessment can help avoid costly repairs down the road.
NADCA makes it really simple for homeowners to find an air duct cleaning professional. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area.
It’s no secret that mold thrives in dark and damp places such as bathrooms and basements, but did you know it can also grow in your home’s ductwork? Mold contained within an air duct system is a serious issue. Think about it – every time your unit is turned on for air conditioning or heating, those mold spores are spread throughout your home and recirculated multiple times a day. Air ducts are typically out of sight, out of mind, so it’s very common for mold in ductwork to go undetected. Undetected mold in a home can be incredibly harmful to those living in it, so it’s important to be aware of the signs.
Mold allergy symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies. Mold triggered allergy symptoms include:
If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems, the presence of mold in your home can be increasingly bothersome. Exposure to indoor mold has been known to aggravate asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals, such as children and the elderly. Length of exposure may also dictate the seriousness and duration of mold allergy symptoms.
Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it's not there! There are a few telltale signs that there is mold lurking in your home’s air duct system:
If your home or family are showing symptoms that point to the presence of mold, it’s important that you act quickly! Addressing issues immediately will prevent the spread of spores and lessen the severity of symptoms that individuals living in the home may be dealing with.
Prevention is key for avoiding indoor mold growth. In order to keep your home mold-free, you need to:
Scheduling periodic air duct inspection and cleaning can help ensure that no mold is hidden in your home’s ductwork. Hire a NADCA-certified air duct cleaner to keep mold allergy symptoms at bay and keep your family happy and healthy!
To learn more about the benefits of air duct cleaning and to find a reputable company, visit the Find a Professional directory on the NADCA website.
Regardless of how much hand sanitizer you use, sometimes avoiding the illnesses circulating the office is inevitable. Sickness can strike from time to time, but what if you are feeling under the weather every time you’re at work? It is possible that the air quality in your office is the culprit for you and your co-workers’ symptoms. One out of four buildings in the US can be classified as a “sick building” and the effects may be more serious than you would think.
The EPA defines Sick Building Syndrome as “situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” Individuals may be healthy, but after spending time in a sick building they may experience certain side effects including:
The symptoms and severity of Sick Building Syndrome may vary from person to person depending on their sensitivity to airborne allergens. Breathing polluted air may not immediately affect some, but it may cause respiratory diseases in the long run.
Sick Building Syndrome can stem from causes such as inadequate ventilation, chemical contaminants, or a buildup of allergens. Examples of these allergens are:
A buildup of these containments can occur in the air ducts of office buildings and, as air circulates through the ducts, the containments are blown around and distributed throughout the building. This causes the people within the building to be continuously exposed to the allergens and air pollutants.
Sick Building Syndrome creates bigger issues than just giving employees a stuffy nose. According to The American Lung Association, US adults miss about 14 million workdays per year because of asthma, which is an issue commonly triggered by poor indoor air quality
A solution to correct and prevent Sick Building Syndrome is to ensure the ventilation systems are cleaned on a regular basis. A NADCA member company can help with that.
HVAC contract companies who are members of NADCA follow a higher standard in air duct cleaning and customer service. With advanced training and certifications in HVAC system hygiene, you can rest assured that they’ll be able to diagnose and suggest the proper plan of action to lessen the Sick Building Syndrome symptoms that occupants may be experiencing.
Interested in getting the process started? To find a NADCA member company near you, visit the Find a Professional directory on the NADCA website.
Spring has sprung! After spending months sealed away in your house to keep the cold and snowy weather at bay, you can finally open your windows to let fresh air in and take a deep breath.
But that feeling of relief you get after finally opening your home to the outside world might also be a sign of poor indoor air quality due to dirty air ducts.
In the winter, your home’s HVAC system circulates air throughout all the rooms in your house to spread heat. However, due to the lack of proper ventilation during the winter months, the dirt, debris, and moisture caused by continuous wet weather begin to accumulate in your home and eventually find its way into your air ducts. Once in your ducts, the contaminants disperse through the air along with the heat leading to numerous potential respiratory problems, such as coughing, shortness of breath, and allergies.
So how exactly can you tell if you need to add air duct cleaning to your spring-cleaning checklist?
Through everyday activities, we create a lot of dirt, dust, and dander that is tracked around the home by family and our furry companions. You can spend hours or days wiping down every surface of your home and tossing out any excess clutter as part of your spring cleaning, but dirt, dust, and harmful contaminants can still be lingering in your air ducts.
After cleaning, you may notice a fine layer of dust form on furniture you just wiped down a few days ago. This might be a sign to get your air ducts cleaned as they could be blowing the built-up contaminants around your home.
You can also tell if your air ducts need cleaning by checking your supply and return vents. If they are visibly dirty both inside and outside, then your ducts need to be cleaned.
If you live in a humid climate, your heating and cooling system can develop condensation leading to mold growth in your ductwork. Mold is much more difficult to detect when it is hidden in your home but usually presents itself in the form of a musty odor. Common places to search for mold include basements, attics, underneath sinks, behind the fridge, and around your HVAC units.
If you have experienced heavy rainfall or suspect water damage in your home, it’s best to play it safe and call a professional to inspect your air ducts for mold growth.
Your ductwork directs air around your home to keep everyone comfortable. But when your air ducts are full of debris, those airways become blocked, making it more difficult for the air to flow. When this occurs, your system must work harder and more frequently to keep the preferred temperature.
However, it isn’t always the accumulation of debris that causes your system to have to work harder. Any leaks you have in your ductwork is lost energy, decreasing the efficiency and increasing your energy bill. Hiring an air duct technician to clean your ducts won’t only remove harmful contaminants, but it could also rule out potential leaks.
NADCA is the premiere organization certifying air duct cleaners. NADCA-certified professionals evaluate your home’s air ducts both before and after the cleaning to determine if the cleaning was successful. They will also inspect and clean other parts of your home’s ventilation system if needed.
Visit the Find an Air Duct Cleaning Professional feature on NADCA’s website to find a certified air duct cleaner in your area.
With the cost of living continuously on the rise, the desire to get the best bang for your buck is stronger than ever. Some deals are simple like a BOGO coupon for your favorite product at the grocery store. Other deals promise to save you much more.Budgeting for Air Duct Cleaning.
With intentions of great savings and a checkmark next to your to-do list, it’s easy to jump at these bargains. Before diving in, it’s important to take a pause and ask yourself, “Is the deal going to save me money or will it cost me more in the long run?”
Even the best bargain hunters will tell you there are some instances where you can skimp, but other times it’s worth the investment. When it comes to taking care of your home cheaper isn’t always better, especially concerning your air duct system, the lungs of your home.
It’s common to find ads from air duct cleaning companies promoting “$99 whole house specials” while flipping through your latest coupon book. Beware of these low-ball prices as this is a popular tactic used by fraudulent air duct cleaning companies to get their foot in the door. Those prices hardly cover the cost of the service, let alone the equipment used, leaving you to unexpectedly pay more while the service is in progress.
These bait-and-switch companies are also known to only clean what can be seen by the naked eye, leaving behind the main build-up of dirt and contaminants found deep within the system. Often, companies like this try to sell you on unnecessary up-charges, exceeding the price listed in the ad.
Avoid having to repeat the process and ensure the job is done right the first time by hiring a NADCA-certified Air Systems Cleaning Specialist. With advanced training and certification in HVAC system cleaning, you can be confident in knowing that you received top quality cleaning at a fair price.
To find a reputable NADCA-certified professional in your area, visit the Find a Professional page on NADCA’s website.
You’ve been living in your home for a while now and spent countless seasons turning your heating and air conditioning on and off to maintain that perfect temperature. But this time something is different, your energy bill is more expensive now as compared to previous years. You switched over to energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances last year and your drafty windows and doors are still sealed, so nothing should have changed. What gives?
During the process of increasing efficiencies throughout a home, many homeowners overlook one of the biggest sources of energy, the HVAC system. Your home’s source of heat and air is the lungs of your house, taking air in and breathing it back out through a series of air duct pathways. As your home goes through the seasons, dirt, dust, pet dander and more contaminants build up in your system’s air ducts, making it harder for the unit to reach that desired comfort level. As a result, more energy is required to function which adds to your energy bill.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, approximately 25% to 40% of the energy used to heat or cool the home is wasted. As the price of heating and cooling increases each year, why not do everything you can to cut back on costs? Getting your heating and cooling system cleaned will not only improve the quality of the air circulating around your home but it may also make a difference in your monthly utility bills.
Maintaining your HVAC system doesn’t just help you cut back on your energy costs, it also helps you avoid expensive repairs and replacements in the future. As your system works harder to circulate air throughout your home, the higher the chances are of it breaking down from overuse.
To start increasing the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, get into the habit of changing your air filters regularly. A clean air filter traps the dirt and dust traveling through your air ducts and helps maintain your home’s indoor air quality.
Even with regular air filter changes, your air ducts are going to need to be cleaned to ensure maximum efficiency in the long run. This involves hiring a professional NADCA-certified contractor to inspect and clean your system to establish that it is working properly. NADCA makes it easy for homeowners to find a professional with their online directory, which allows you to search by zip code to locate a company in your area.
When it comes to allergies, most people think of their home as a haven where they can escape their symptoms. Unfortunately, houses, apartments, and even office buildings harbor indoor allergens of their own. Through normal occupation, dust, air pollutants, and other contaminants collect in a home. Regardless of how often or thoroughly it is cleaned, some dust remains or settles back in the next day.air duct cleaning allergy triggers
Many substances found in dust can trigger allergy symptoms. Other common indoor allergens include:
Unlike seasonal allergies, indoor allergies may last all year long, and some occupants are more sensitive than others. Allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as young children and the elderly, tend to be more susceptible to poor indoor air quality.
Luckily, you can reduce indoor allergens by taking the following measures:
Eliminating pet dander from your home entirely can be an impossible task, but taking steps like cleaning your furniture and carpets can be a quick fix for removing dander from surfaces. Decluttering your space will also give dander fewer places to hide.
Ensure your home has sufficient ventilation, use mold inhibitors in your paints, and clean your bathroom with mold-killing products.
Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep humidity levels in your home lower than 50 percent will help prevent mold. Air purifiers will also help eliminate the number of contaminants that are in the air such as, mold, bacteria, and viruses.
Using air filters can trap pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. Filters work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps these harmful particles. Cleaning and changing air conditioning filters and duct filters at each change of season will ensure your family is breathing cleaner, fresher, healthier air.
HVAC systems have been shown to collect a variety of contaminants such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust that have the potential to affect overall health. Having your air ducts cleaned can improve your indoor air quality and reduce health problems.
Working with a qualified contractor will ensure the job is done right, which can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. For more information or to find a local NADCA-certified member, visit www.nadca.com.
When it’s time to service your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system at home, you’ll likely look for a company with certified technicians. Hiring someone who is certified by NADCA ensures you’re getting work done not just by a legitimate company, but by someone who truly knows air duct cleaning.
When someone is certified in their trade, they have completed specialized training and passed evaluations to demonstrate their expert-level knowledge of their trade. When someone achieves certification, they are able to produce proof of their achievement, usually via a certificate (hence, certification) or some other official document.
Certification programs usually require professionals to re-certify every year or every few years. Professionals must take continuing-education courses and complete additional exams to show that they are up to date on the latest trends in their industry.
Many trades have different certifications that workers can achieve, but they’re not all the same. Each certification is focused on one aspect of the trade. In HVAC, this means that technicians may get certified in everything from energy efficiency to environmental protection, mechanical components of HVAC systems, and, yes, air duct cleaning.
HVAC technicians and contractors who are certified by NADCA have completed advanced training in HVAC system hygiene, meaning that they have a better understanding of how HVAC systems get dirty, how to clean different types of ductwork, and how to verify that air ducts are in fact clean after a job.
The value in hiring a NADCA-certified technician is that you can rest assured that your money is well-spent; the job will get done by someone who truly knows the trade and how to do the work properly. In addition, the continuing education courses that technicians must complete to stay certified each year ensure that any NADCA-certified technician is skilled in the latest equipment and techniques in air duct cleaning.
NADCA is the premiere organization certifying air duct cleaners and makes it easy for homeowners to find certified air duct cleaners on its website. Visit the Find a Professional feature on NADCA’s website to find a certified air duct cleaner in your area.
You’ve switched to energy-efficient light bulbs, installed Energy Star® appliances and sealed drafty windows and doors, all in the name of making your home more energy efficient. But did you know there’s one often overlooked area that has a huge impact on how much energy your home uses? Next time you’re near your furnace or air handling unit—the large metal box that pushes air throughout your home’s air ducts—take a minute to give some much-needed attention to this important part of your home’s energy efficiency equation.
Your home’s air handling unit heats, cools and circulates air in your home. The unit sucks air in, and—depending on whether you are heating or cooling your home—blows the air over hot or cold coils before blowing the air out into your home. Dirt and dust can build up on these coils, not only making it difficult for them to warm or cool properly, but also making it harder for the air to pass through them. As a result, the air handling unit has to work harder to push the air out into your home, requiring more energy and adding to your energy bill. In fact, systems with dirty coils use up to 37 percent more energy to cool the home. And, all that added work wears out the system faster than normal, which could lead to needing to replace the unit sooner than if it was properly maintained.
Staying on top of keeping your air handling unit clean and running efficiently doesn’t just control energy costs. It also helps avoid even more expensive repairs down the line. How often a system needs to be cleaned will vary, so set a schedule and stick to it. While you may be able to help keep your system in check by regularly replacing filters, call a professional to examine and clean the system.
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