It is 95 degrees on a bright summer Saturday afternoon. You are getting ready for the busiest day of the week in your retail shop… Except you have one problem, your shop feels like an oven and you are not running a bakery. If this type of scenario has ever happened to you, you already know the outcome: Lost sales, lost opportunities, lost customers… no matter how you slice it, you lost money.
One of the most common causes of HVAC malfunction is system neglect. On days like the one I described above, you will be wishing that you had hired a reputable HVAC mechanical maintenance firm, or a HVAC cleaning service company, because once the damage of lost sales is done, it cannot be reversed. In part one of this post, I described what the perception of dirty ducts and vents can do to a business or facility, but the real consequences of running your HVAC while it is actually dirty could be much worse. Whether it is system breakdown or the possibility of making people sick, a dirty HVAC system is to be avoided at all costs.
What Went Wrong?
There are many things that can go wrong with an HVAC system that could cause your cooling to fail; and this is by no means an over-simplification or downplaying of proper system maintenance and water treatment. That said, when was the last time you had your HVAC system and ductwork inspected and cleaned? If you have never had your system inspected or cleaned, or if it hasn’t been done in many years/seasons, then your neglect may have been the culprit.
While it is true that your fan could have burned out or your heat exchanger could be clogged, there is a very good chance that your problems started with a dirty system. Not changing filters or dust, pollen and mold in the ductwork could all lead to dirty condenser coils or clogged evaporator coils. If left unchecked, your HVAC system will have to work harder and harder to produce cooling. In all likelihood, eventually, something will overheat and breakdown.
The Reality of Dirty Vent and Ducts
From an efficiency point of view, airborne particulate like dust, pollen and mold, can and will clog the working portions of your HVAC system, especially if air filters have not been maintained or replaced. Clogged evaporator coils can cause emergency bills to skyrocket as your HVAC unit struggles to push air through it. This could also lead to fan burn out.
Routine cleaning of your air ducts and vents is essential not only for maintaining efficiency, but also for keeping your employees and customers from becoming ill. When proper cleaning is neglected, it will likely lead to the increased proliferation of various types of biological contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold. These contaminants get blown out of the system and into the air. As a result, the polluted air can introduce a variety of ailments into your workplace. Some of the potential symptoms include, but are not limited to, chest tightness, muscle aches, coughing, fever, chills, and numerous allergic reactions such as upper respiratory congestion and mucous membrane irritation.
One prominent example is the legionella bacteria. Legionella thrives in warm water. It can become present and proliferate in places like drip pans, cooling towers and evaporator coils. If water vapor containing certain strains of the bacteria is inhaled, one has the potential to develop Legionnaire’s Disease, a relatively dangerous form of pneumonia. All of these reactions and symptoms can lead to more workers calling in sick, bigger medical bills, and a loss of customers, which will reduce the efficiency and profitability of your business. If left unchecked, this could ultimately spell disaster for your company. A common misconception is that neglecting duct cleaning and services of that nature will not negatively affect business efficiency and medical health. While in the short-term this may be the case, in the long run it can lead to reduced efficiency and the spread of airborne pathogens in your workplace that can negatively affect the health of your employees and your customers.
Cleaning Schedule and Specifications
Cleaning schedules vary depending on the system and location, but it is critical to consult an expert commercial/industrial vent and duct cleaning service company to establish a schedule for proper maintenance. After installation of a new or refurbished system, inspection is necessary to ensure that your system is clean and running efficiently. It is most crucial during those times because doing so will limit how much future maintenance needs to be performed. After start up, it is good practice to have your vents inspected at least once a year. If you have cooling towers, you should also consider cooling tower cleaning services to keep them operating at peak efficiency. This is usually done twice a year.
The basic process includes the use of a vacuum to create negative pressure, which causes the particulate contamination to become airborne and to be pulled out of the system. This prevents it from entering the facility and minimizes the damage that it can cause.
What About Restaurants?
Restaurants have another challenge on top of their normal ventilation system maintenance. Most restaurants have grease hoods installed over their cooking surfaces. Over time, these kitchen hoods are designed to collect grease at the vent on the roof. If neglected, a grease hood could easily be overcome by grease which poses a very serious fire hazard. Most states have strict fire safety codes that are meant to protect the public by mandating when and how kitchen hoods are cleaned and maintained. If your facility had a kitchen hood, make sure that you know the law regarding its maintenance in your State of operation.
If your ducts and vents are in need of cleaning and you would like a free estimate, or if you have any questions about the process of cleaning your vents and ducts, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call us at 604-266-5006.