Air ducts in commercial buildings are “out of sight, out of mind” until there’s a problem. Using good quality air filters can keep an HVAC system running smoothly and cleanly for years, but there are still times when replacing the air filter isn’t enough. The HVAC system is responsible for providing breathable air, comfortable room temperatures, and efficient airflow throughout the building. When the ducts are compromised by dust, mold, or animal infestations, the air quality can go from poor to dangerous. Additionally, the HVAC unit incurs more wear and tear due to clogging and blockages that may shorten its years of usefulness and raise energy bills while lowering effectiveness.
Having air ducts inspected and cleaned as part of a regular building maintenance schedule can help identify and solve smaller issues before they become major problems. Even though duct cleaning isn’t done on a frequent basis doesn’t mean that it’s a job for non-professionals. Air duct cleaning requires high-powered vacuums and rotary brushes that are specially made for the task and improper cleaning techniques can damage ducts and result in expensive repair bills.
There are several things to look for when choosing a reputable air duct cleaning company.
- The company should be certified by the NADCA, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association. That means that the staff members are Air Systems Cleaning Specialists and participate in ongoing training. They clean according to the NADCA’s standards.
- In the state of New Jersey, anyone who is cleaning air ducts as a business is required to obtain the proper license. Unlicensed companies will not perform up to the same standards. Regardless of the state, licensing should always be confirmed.
- Along with being licensed, a legitimate air duct cleaning company should be insured.
- An experienced company will be able to provide references. Check those as well for honesty and integrity.
- Look for free inspections. Reputable companies consistently offer free inspections to determine if air duct cleaning is necessary in the first place.
- A trustworthy company should provide written estimates for their services. It’s a good idea to get estimates from at least three different companies to be sure that costs for similar services are reasonable and competitive.
- Be wary of coupon specials or ridiculously low-prices services. Trained professionals will not offer their services for bargain basement rates.
Once you have chosen an air duct cleaning company, there are things to watch for on the job site, including:
- Use of the correct tools – vacuums and rotary brushes are most used
- Use of the proper techniques – flex-ducts tear easily and should not be scraped using brushes
- Avoidance of sealants or chemical biocides – the EPA and the NADCA do not endorse their use unless they are necessary to control the growth of mold
- Use of a fully functioning vacuum collection system so that dust is removed from rather than redeposited back into the ducts
- Steering clear of steam cleaning which may promote the growth of mold, and
- The inclusion of registers, grills, coils, motors, fans, and all appropriate HVAC system elements in addition to the ducts.
The general recommendation is that air ducts should be cleaned every three to five years depending on whether the HVAC system is residential or commercial. More frequent cleaning may be necessary for manufacturing and construction facilities. For air duct cleaning in New Jersey, look for properly state-licensed professionals.