It’s a common question from facility managers that often leads to vague and varying answers, “How often should I be cleaning my air ducts?” The correct answer is simple: when they are dirty. But should you really wait to experience a rainfall of debris, strange odors seeping through the vents, or an obvious lack of airflow before taking the initiative to clean your air ducts? It’s important that you inspect your HVAC system for cleanliness before its blowing debris into occupied areas, especially in sensitive environments such as hospitals and commercial buildings. NADCA suggests that all components of HVAC systems in hospitals be inspected annually
. They also suggest that in commercial buildings, as a minimum, the air handling unit be inspected annually and the supply and return ductwork be inspected every two years
to uphold acceptable indoor air quality in facilities, it’s important that an overall indoor air quality management program is in place. This program should include regular HVAC system inspections and plans for scheduled cleanings. If the inspection shows that the HVAC system performance is compromised due to contamination or excessive build up, cleaning is necessary. This inspection should cover all the components of the air handling unit (filters, bypass, heating and cooling coils, etc.), the supply ductwork (controls, reheat coils, etc.) and the return ductwork (return ducts, dampers, return plenums, etc).
If the following conditions are found, your HVAC system probably needs to be cleaned:
1) If debris, contaminants or microbial growth is visible
2) If debris is being discharged from the HVAC system or if there is any evidence of debris falling into the occupied space
3) If the air handing unit equipment, heating and cooling coils, filtration device etc. are blocked or have any contamination that can cause performance issues
Setting up an indoor air quality management plan is a great way to make sure your air ducts aren’t causing indoor air pollution. Specifically, in hospitals, they carry a high level of importance because of the abundance of immune-compromised individuals. But whether you’re managing a hospital, industrial or commercial building choosing to set up an indoor air quality management plan can help ensure your patients, their family members and employees alike aren’t having their health compromised by dirty air ducts.