The Importance of Clean Air Ducts
The Anatomy of a residential HVAC system.
In addition to normal accumulations of dust and dirt found in all homes with air ducts, there are several other factors that can increase the need for regular HVAC system cleaning:
- occupants with allergies or asthma
- cigarette or cigar smoke
- water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system
- home renovation or remodeling projects
Some occupants are more sensitive to these contaminants than others. Allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as young children and the elderly tend to be more susceptible to the types of poor indoor air quality that air duct cleaning can help address.
Top Benefits of HVAC Cleaning
NADCA’s rule of thumb for consumers is that “if your air ducts look dirty, they probably are,” and that dirty HVAC systems should be inspected by a reputable, certified HVAC professional. Below are some other reasons homeowners choose to have their air ducts cleaned.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is one concern that homeowners have when they decide to investigate air duct cleaning. Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system takes air in and breathes air out.
Through normal occupation in a home, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the duct work.
While dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean unhealthy air in your home, school or workplace, they may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use.
When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to improved cost-effectiveness. A clean HVAC system is a healthier, safer and more cost efficient system.
For an estimate on the cost of cleaning the air ducts in your home or business, call SERVPRO of The East End at 631.653.9595.
*reprinted from an article by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association
Deciding Whether or Not To Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned
Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.
If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.
On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published the following publications for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.
You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.
On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.
You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:
- There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system.
- Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)
- Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
Article written by: EPA.Gov
What Is A Carpet Extractor & How Is It Used By Professionals?
One of the most popular pieces of equipment in restoration is the deep cleaning, versatile carpet extractor. This piece of equipment comes in a variety of designs, but the basic design involves a combination of heat, pressure, suction, and a cleaning solution. Attacking stains, odors from mold and mildew or pets, and soil is a tricky task. Vacuums, even the highest quality designs, can only lift dirt from the surface of the fibers. Whereas carpet extractors can remove the dirt or stain from the deepest areas of the carpeting, making them a vital tool.
Both professionals and homeowners can use this equipment, although it is important to know the proper procedure and to use the correct equipment. The different product designs range from portable to truck-mounted and include:
- Canister cleaners – these are simple to use and avoid lengthy setup times. This product is usually heavy duty and includes a large tank which means more time cleaning and less time refilling.
- Interim cleaners – these are for small and hard to reach areas. These cleaners are smaller than canisters, which means more time will be spent refilling the tank. However, the tanks are typically small enough to refill under a sink faucet.
- Portable cleaners – these machines are useful for spot cleaning. They can be great for using on small jobs and can be used on rugs, upholstery, and in cars.
- Dual cleaners – these are one of the larger cleaners available, but they often get the job done in one pass. This product uses technology such as dual rotating rollers to clean more deeply into the fibers. The size is effective for covering large areas quickly
- Rapid drying carpet extractors – these machines do just what they say. They provide a thorough cleaning while avoiding saturation, so the carpeting will need less time to dry.
There are more designs on the market that can be used to fit almost any need. Professionals can achieve the most effective results because in conjunction with a powerful carpet extractor, they also have access to the most powerful detergents. Unfortunately, some of the chemicals required for tough stains and odors are not available for homeowners to use. Professionals also use truck-mounted machines to provide the most effective cleaning service. They provide a deeper clean without the time-consuming task of refilling the tank. They also provide superior suction, and the water can be heated to the perfect temperature for the best results. Professional grade equipment can also mean less drying time, enabling home or business owners to get back to their routine as quickly as possible.
While some choose to tackle this task on their own, home or business owners considering having their carpet cleaned should hire a certified professional for the best results.
Article written by: IICRC
Ozone 101: Using Oxygen Molecules For Odor Removal
Lightning: Natures Ozone Generator
In chemistry, we represent elements with letters (for example “O” stands for the element “oxygen”), and the small numbers to the lower-right of the element indicate the number of atoms of that element in the molecule. For example, O2 represents a molecule that consists of two oxygen atoms, which is the stable form of “regular” oxygen. O3 represents a molecule that consists of three oxygen atoms, which is the unstable form of oxygen called ozone.
Ozone has existed on Earth for as long as oxygen has been here- about 500 million years. It has existed in our universe for billions of years. Wherever oxygen comes into contact with an electric arc, such as lightning and/or a particular wavelength of ultraviolet rays, like those from the sun around which the planet orbits, ozone will be created.
How is ozone generated?
During an electrical storm, bolts of lightning in the atmosphere rip oxygen molecules apart, leaving single oxygen atoms in their wake. These single atoms quickly bond with surrounding O2 molecules, creating O3, or ozone.
This is why the air smells so fresh right after a lightning storm. Lightning is nature’s air purifier.
The ozone layer in the lower stratosphere is also generated by molecular fission and fusion, but by the sun’s short wave ultraviolet rays rather than by electricity. Coincidentally, it’s this ozone layer- created by short UV waves, that protects life on our planet from the longer UV waves within the spectrum.
Ozone generators manufacture ozone by applying either of these same two principles:
1. Corona Discharge
Ozone generators that utilize the electric arc method of generating ozone are referred to as corona discharge ozone generators. High voltage (2,000 volts and up) is passed through a dielectric material (material that transmits electrical force without conduction), while being fed and cooled by ambient air supplied by a fan located at the rear of the unit. Ambient air is made up of 78.08% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, .93% argon, the remaining .04% consisting of trace amounts of other gasses.
This sustained electric arc is what severs the O2 molecules, resulting in the manufacture of ozone.
2. Ultraviolet Light
Waves of ultraviolet (UV) light are what ‘slice’ O2 molecules in half in UV ozone generators. UV bulbs are mounted inside the generator which emit certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light which, in turn, separate the atoms of passing O2 molecules. This is how our sun creates and maintains the protective ozone layer between the troposphere and stratosphere.
UV is much less effective at generating ozone than corona discharge. Generators of this type typically have a much lower ozone output as a result.
How does ozone destroy odors?
Ozone reacts with odor molecules by transferring the “extra” oxygen atom of the ozone molecule to the odor molecule, changing its composition so it no longer has the same chemical makeup. This chemical reaction is called oxidation.
In a nutshell, through the oxidation process, what was formerly an odor-causing molecule is now an entirely different compound, and therefore does not possess the odor of its preceding form. A simple example of this molecular restructuring is the addition of an oxygen atom to a molecule of H2O to form H2O2 (which is the conversion of water to hydrogen peroxide).
To compare the difference between odor treatment using deodorizers and ozone, I often use the following analogy with my students. Pretend we have two foul-smelling odor molecules, and think of them as two bad guys. Let’s treat the first bad guy with a spray-on deodorizer. This can be represented by locking him in a jail cell so he can’t affect anybody or anything. He’s harmless, but “underneath it all”, he is still a bad guy. If the cell in which he is locked falls apart or wears out (or if his sentence time runs out), he is released and can again be an actively bad guy… or in our case, a stinky odor molecule.
Now let’s take the second bad guy and treat him with ozone. During the oxidation process, his very molecular structure is altered; he is no longer the same thing. This can be represented by waving a magic wand and “poof- he’s a rabbit!” Since the bad guy has been turned into something completely different/harmless, he can no longer be a bad guy- for he is now a rabbit, permanently, or in our case, a molecule without an unpleasant odor.
Is Ozone Dangerous?
The most important thing to remember when generating ozone in a space is to evacuate the premises during the treatment. This includes the removal of pets, and in the case of high levels generated over a period of several hours, removal of houseplants is suggested. It’s a good idea to post “Do Not Enter- Ozone Area” (or similar message) signs on all entrances of a space as well.
After the treatment time is complete, either enough time should pass for the ozone to revert to oxygen (O2), or the space should be circulated with fresh air before people and animals are reintroduced.
Ozone has a relatively short half-life of approximately 30 minutes. For example, a half hour after the generator turns off, an ozone level of 10ppm (10 parts per million) will be 5ppm, and a half hour after that, it will be 2.5ppm, and so on. This quick degradation process is the result of the weak bond holding the third oxygen atom to the molecule.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there regarding how safe ozone use is in the restoration industry. While prolonged exposure even in light concentrations can be irritating to tissue, especially the lungs, using the proper precautions can help everyone avoid any side effects at all.
By way of comparison, carbon monoxide (CO) is considerably more dangerous, being responsible for 2,500 deaths annually, yet we think nothing of walking down the street in heavy traffic, alongside countless huge carbon monoxide generators (cars).
And here’s one of the most beautiful things about using ozone in the restoration industry- the only residue resulting from the generation of ozone is oxygen (O2).When used properly and a few simple rules are followed, ozone can be a safe and effective tool.
Article written by: David Hart , Restoration and Remediation Magzine