While occasional moisture is acceptable in commercial air conveyance systems and ducts, excessive dampness can lead to problems with your air quality. Instead of evaporating, the moisture can develop into droplets of water. The combination of moisture and the availability of nutrients from skin cells, dust, and dirt is the perfect environment for mold to colonize and thrive.
Mold is hazardous no matter where it grows, but it presents a unique risk when occupying your air conveyance system. Airflow may carry the mold spores through the air ducts, spreading them throughout the facility. This blog will explain the three primary signs of microbial growth in your facility’s air ducts and the process for HVAC cleaning in commercial air ducts.
The Presence of a Musty Odor
Often the first sign that your air ducts contain microbial growth is a moldy, musty, or earthy odor. The scent may be subtle if the growth is contained to a small area or only be noticeable when the air conditioning, heating, or HVAC system starts. The variations in the strength of the scent can help pinpoint the location of the growth. When the ducts are not in use, the smell may become less noticeable as it settles.
Illness and Allergy Symptoms
The most serious risk of having mold in the air ducts is that it can cause irritation and health problems for personnel. The affected persons can experience skin, eye, and respiratory irritation when in contact with mold-contaminated air. Sneezing, coughing, headache, and fatigue are more severe symptoms of exposure and may increase over time. Those with existing allergies and sensitivities can exhibit extreme symptoms, such as nausea. It is critical to have the air ducts inspected and the mold eliminated if health problems arise for facility personnel.
Visible Mold in Air Ducts
The most obvious sign of microbial growth in an air conveyance system is a visible accumulation of mold in the duct, the air handling unit compartments, or at the vents. Mold typically grows within the air handling unit, but gets carried by the airflow and may settle around the vents. While mold is not visible in the air, dust and particulate matter can accumulate in patches of black, white, or green fungus on surfaces. To visually inspect for microbial growth in air ducts, open the air handling unit and blower compartment or vent and check inside with a flashlight.
The Air Duct Mold Removal Process
It is critical to remove mold quickly and safely when it is present in your facility’s air ducts. IMC’s commercial air duct cleaners remove mold in three steps:
Inspect: We investigate areas of concern and work with the facility manager to identify possible sources of excess moisture and particulate accumulation. Other issues that may need to be resolved before starting an air duct cleaning project include possible insulation removal and replacement, insulation coatings, or other HVAC refurbishments.
Containment Engineering Strategies: IMC will determine a strategy to isolate the workspace from other areas of a building. Barriers and pressure differentials are common strategies to prohibit the unwanted migration of airborne particles into other areas. Depending on the usage classification of a building and the type of contaminants within the HVAC system, several different containment engineering strategies may be employed. These containment engineering strategies are specifically designed with respect to protecting the indoor environment, contractors, and personnel from HVAC and duct cleaning procedures.
Source Removal: IMC follows the standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). We remove all visible contaminants and particulates from all components of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. We use industry approved agitation tools for our cleaning operations including air whips, air sweeps, brushes, compressed air, and HEPA-filtered vacuums, each of which is designed for effective and efficient capture of accumulated particulate.
Air Duct Mold Cleaning From IMC
Mold and microbial growth in your facility’s air conveyance systems can be harmful to the health of personnel and is often a sign of particulate accumulation, insufficient filtration, or damaged HVAC components. Mold in your air ducts may be the culprit if you notice a musty smell, eye and respiratory irritation, or visible growth.
Airborne mold spores spread quickly in HVAC systems and can create a hazardous environment for occupants. Rely on IMC’s commercial air duct cleaning to eliminate the source of potential microbial growth in your facility. We have over 30 years of experience cleaning HVAC systems and air ducts according to National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) standards. Professionally cleaning your air ducts will improve your facility’s air quality, extend the life of your HVAC equipment, increase airflow, and reduce the risk of fire.
Energy costs take up a huge chunk of spending for commercial businesses each year. Lowering your energy spending can generate savings that can be used to expand your business and boost income. One way to do this is by starting with your HVAC systems, as they are one of the biggest energy consumers in the average commercial facility. Properly maintaining your HVAC systems reduces energy consumption and ensures reliable equipment performance.
Here, we provide the ultimate commercial HVAC inspection checklist. Following these best practices can lead to reduced energy consumption, prevent costly repairs or replacements, and ensure your system is running smoothly.
The Importance of Proactive HVAC Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance plans involve inspecting your HVAC equipment and performing basic maintenance procedures (cleaning, lubricating, etc.) at scheduled intervals. HVAC preventative maintenance plans require consistent effort from a dedicated maintenance team. Although PM plans may incur routine maintenance costs, they significantly reduce costs associated with expensive repairs and replacements, making them worth it over time.
One of the most significant advantages of preventative maintenance is that it reduces the risk of emergency repairs. A PM plan also prolongs your equipment’s service life, reduces energy consumption, and ensures your system is operating as intended. By regularly inspecting and cleaning the various components of your commercial HVAC system, you can find potential problems and solve them before they cause catastrophic failure and unexpected downtime.
The Commercial HVAC Inspection Checklist
The most effective maintenance programs involve inspecting your HVAC system twice yearly. This is usually done in the spring, to ensure the air conditioning is functioning properly, and in the fall, to check that the heat is working correctly. Inspecting your HVAC unit involves many steps, making it important to work with an experienced and professional maintenance company.
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During the fall inspection, it’s important to perform the following tasks:
Inspect the duct system and clean as necessary.
Replace heating equipment filters
Inspect the condition of pulleys and belts and replace them as needed
Clear pans and drain lines
Check all electrical connections
Check fan and blower motor operation and adjust if needed
Inspect ignition and burner assembly
Lubricate bearings, motors, and other moving parts
Test safety controls
Inspect heat exchanger
Inspect thermostat and temperature controls
The spring inspection entails the following:
Clean the air conditioning coils and air handling unit including blower chamber and drain pan.
Replace cooling equipment filters
Lubricate or replace belts
Clean evaporator and condenser coils
Measure the refrigerant level and recharge if necessary
Clear pans and drain lines
Check all electrical connections
Check fan and blower motor operation and adjust if needed
Lubricate bearings, motors, and other moving parts
Check that the thermostat and other controls are operating properly
Test safety controls
Check for adequate airflow
HVAC Preventative Maintenance from Interior Maintenance Company
Implementing a proper commercial HVAC preventative maintenance plan is crucial in reducing energy costs, prolonging the lifespan of equipment, and preventing costly emergency repairs. To ensure your HVAC system is inspected properly and thoroughly, it’s important to work with an experienced and reliable HVAC or Mechanical contractor with commercial and industrial experience.
As part of our capabilities, we offer commercial duct cleaning services designed to improve indoor air quality, decrease energy consumption, extend HVAC system service life, and enhance overall safety. We are NADCA certified, meaning we stay up to date on best practices for HVAC system inspection and cleaning. Whether you are in a small or large facility, we can handle almost any air duct cleaning project.
For more information about our air duct cleaning services, or to partner with IMC for your HVAC PM plan, contact us or request a quote today.
Fires are a devastating reality that affect hundreds of thousands of residential and commercial structures as well as forest areas every year, leaving families and businesses with the sad aftermath of loss and devastation as a result of property and personal damage, or loss of life.
According to the most recent NFPA Journal Fire Loss, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the US every 24 seconds, and there is a fire in a structure at the rate of one every 63 seconds. With these far too frequent fire occurrences, consider implementing these five NFPA fire prevention strategies to prevent your commercial building from being included in these staggering statistic.
1. Up to Code
Fire safety NFPA fire safety code compliance is key to prevent fires from destroying your business or hurt its occupants. There are numerous codes business managers must know about and in order to train their employees to implement for employee and customer safety. These codes are important safety standards everyone should know to keep fire safety measures top of mind. Make sure you have the latest codes to keep up with the updated standards.
2. Keep Your Staff In the Know
Businesses are tasked with the responsibility of keeping their staff up to speed with the latest information about code compliance for their jobs. This not only keeps them safe, but the customers and clients they serve as well. A properly-trained workforce that knows how to keep themselves, others, and their work environment safe is an important way to prevent fires in commercial structures.
3. Be Ready, Just In Case
Fire preparedness is so important in helping to mitigate property damage or loss of life, in case of a fire emergency. Be as ready as you can be with training, escape plans and emergency response readiness so your business team will know how best to respond when fire danger strikes your commercial property. Plan and post your escape plan for your staff. In addition, make sure your plan is clear and visible at all exit points for all building occupants throughout your commercial structure.
4. Fire Safety Messaging
We all remember Smoky the Bear as a long-standing household mascot for fire safety and prevention for how to avoid forest and household fires. Fire safety messaging keeps your employees aware of the best ways to protect themselves and their families from the risk of fire damage or death.
5. Keep First Things First
Fire safety measures should be a top priority for commercial business owners to protect all employees and customers from imminent or potential fire dangers. Fire hazards, such as faulty electrical wiring, can be a recipe for disaster for all building occupants, so a commitment to NFPA standards and codes in all parts of the commercial structure is a way to ensure fire protection for its occupants.
These five NFPA-supported fire prevention strategies: code compliance, training, preparedness, messaging, and a solid investment in fire safety and prevention are solid fire protection tips to protect your team and commercial structure safety.
Commercial buildings are huge structures that utilize a great deal of energy around the clock, as heat and air conditioning units run throughout the day and night. When mechanical systems are well constructed and in good condition, they are great for cost efficiency. When commercial structures have poorly functioning ventilation ducts, energy is wasted, and your bottom line can be impacted by air that is literally going out the door. Duct cleaning is a key energy saving solution by making your air flow through your building the way it should.
The importance of total system air duct cleaning in commercial buildings can’t be emphasized enough, because energy efficient commercial building spaces keep inhabitants comfortable when there is proper air flow. According to the EPA, a buildup of just 0.42″ of dirt on a heating or cooling coil can result in a decrease of efficiency of 21%. This can add up to a significant cost for your business. With extensive buildup of dirt and dust particulate, air conveyance systems are stressed and work harder to circulate air and heat throughout the building. This is where energy levels decrease, and costs can increase.
Evaluate your HVAC System’s Efficiency
Commercial HVAC systems account for a substantial percentage of a business’s energy costs, so evaluating your commercial HVAC system is a necessary first step to making sure your system works as best it could. A good, thorough evaluation of the way your system works is the best way to assess its efficiency and areas that need improvement to make it work to its maximum potential. If your business’s commercial system is bogged down by unwanted and unhealthy dust and dirt buildup, it won’t operate the way it should to circulate a healthy, effective air flow through the ducts.
If you haven’t had your ventilation system professionally evaluated or cleaned, this is the best place to start to see if clearing out potential contaminants will produce the type of healthy airflow that your commercial HVAC unit needs for the best energy efficiency, safety and overall healthy output of your building unit.
Give Your System a Lift
Evaluating and cleaning your HVAC system are great ways to reduce wasted energy in commercial buildings, but not the only way. You can also reduce and possibly eliminate wasted commercial energy when you enhance your HVAC system with energy efficient features to conserve building energy. If you take energy-saving steps to improve your system, the results can dramatically improve your system’s effectiveness.
Commercial buildings are huge energy consumers, so the key is to evaluate and clean your ducts to keep your system from underperforming. This strain on your HVAC system is costly from a financial and energy efficiency standpoint. Duct cleaning is an efficient way to stop wasting energy and start saving money for your commercial building so the air flow is strong, clean and pleasant for all.
If you’ve noticed a lingering odor stemming from your commercial HVAC, you’re probably not the only one. Smelly HVACs produce a stale, smelly air quality that is unpleasant and uninviting. Troubling odors, such as mold or bathroom-related smells that are around all of the time can be hard for both employees and customers to get past. There are several possible reasons for your disturbing commercial HVAC smells that need to be determined so your customers don’t continue to have a negative experience when they visit your establishment.
Getting to the source of your commercial establishment odor problems is half the battle. Once you determine the smell is coming from your commercial HVAC, which is designed to circulate good quality air in buildings, getting the odor under control has to do with the airflow. The key is to get the bad air out, and let the good quality, fresh air flow in.
If the odor is localized in your restrooms, for instance, commercial HVACs should have an effective exhaust fan component that pulls out more of the bad air and pushes in fresh, clean air into the bathroom. This necessary negative airflow will help to keep the odor localized so the smelly air quality will not seep into other areas of your commercial space and make customers question whether they should shorten their stay or find another business to frequent.
Commercial kitchens need a similar type of negative air pressure ventilation to keep strong food odors from spreading throughout the restaurant, school, or healthcare facility. Exhaust fans are very beneficial tools used to combat tough smells, but a good working HVAC system works to move air to where it should and should not be within commercial spaces so customers can breathe good, healthy air. Smoky kitchens with strong, lingering food smells can be a source of irritation for customers, including those who suffer with Asthma and other types of breathing problems.
HVACs are supposed to control and neutralize odors, not create them, so these types of smells mean that your HVAC isn’t working properly, and it needs to be diagnosed and serviced by a licensed HVAC professional. If there are any blockages in the circulation system, the HVAC air will not move as it should and keep odors at bay. A commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning system needs maintenance to make sure it is operating effectively to produce the negative air flow necessary to treat stubborn odors in commercial areas that produce potent odors that you don’t want to permeate the building.
Musty, moldy or other types of strong odors coming from your HVAC are sure indications that there is something wrong with the way your system functions. Treat your air ventilation system at the source to give your employees and customers the pleasant airflow and experience they should expect when they spend time in your commercial space.
The commercial air handling unit is the core component of your heating and air conditioning system, and serves the function of processing air so fresh, clean air circulates in your commercial space. This air filtering and pumping function also affects the duct system as a whole.
When it’s properly cleaned, air fills the commercial facility, breathing is easier and asthma triggers are lessened. However, when the air-handling unit is dirty and clogged, it becomes a source of allergens and odors that are unpleasant and unhealthy for your office facility. If you are uncertain about why you should clean your air-handling unit annually, here are ten reasons why this is important:
Good quality air is a healthy benefit that commercial space occupants can benefit from when they experience a clean air-handling unit. They breathe in crisp, fresh air throughout the commercial space when the air filtering source is clean and treated at the source of the air duct system through the air handling unit.
Allergens can arise with the presence of unfiltered pollutants that are backed up in the air duct system in commercial spaces. This may trigger asthma symptoms in those who suffer with the condition. These potential triggers could negatively affect the respiratory system over time.
Odors in confined commercial spaces from mold, kitchen exhaust, bathroom exhaust, manufacturing processes, etc. can make the space unpleasant for occupants. With a clean air duct system and air handling unit in place, these unpleasant smells can be pulled out of the space and replaced with clean, filtered air.
Save energy with an air duct system and a clean air handling system.
NADCA estimates about 25% – 40% of energy is wasted when air ducts are dirty or clogged. When the system is clogged up with dust and irritants, the duct system cannot work as efficiently as it should.
Mold and other microbiological irritants can grow in an unclean commercial air handling unit and potentially harm employees or inhabitants of commercial buildings when these irritants are not removed.
Commercial food preparation produces strong smells that must go through the proper air duct circulation process so the food odors don’t overwhelm the commercial space and adversely affect employees and building inhabitants.
Temperature is controlled by the air-handling unit, producing hot or cold air. Unclean or clogged units can cause the air to circulate throughout the space at the undesired temperature.
Debris and unclean air handlingsystems can not only cause the system not to work well, but can damage some parts of the HVAC system.
Clogged ducts can limit the airflow movement and functioning of the air duct system. A clean air handling system can help the system operate, as it should.
Cost efficiency is an important aspect of air handling units that are cleaned and maintained for optimal effectiveness.
These are ten good reasons why you should keep your commercial air handling system clean every year. Contact us to learn more about our commercial duct cleaning services.
Heating and cooling systems need to work at their maximum effectiveness in order to do the job they are expected to do.
Your business environment impacts air ducts. Restaurant smoke, animal dander, water contamination, dust particles, and chemicals are things that can all lead to dusty and dirty air ducts.
If your ventilation systems need to be cleaned, then your customers or employees who suffer with breathing conditions such as asthma will be far more susceptible to environmental respiratory triggers and health conditions.
Triggering allergies and other respiratory conditions can cause a loss of business or an increase in employee sick days.
Here are five reasons your commercial air ducts get dirty.
1. Unwanted smoky residue– Think of your commercial HVAC system as the “lungs of your office.” The system “breathes” air in and out.
Air can become saturated with lingering smoke and grease deposits. Operations with commercial kitchens on the premise are prime suspects for this type of air quality contamination.
Animals- Animal dander can also contribute to dirty air duct buildup. Commercial operations with animals often encounter these problems.
Animal research labs, animal shelters, and veterinarian hospitals are the usual suspects for this type of contamination.
Treating poor air quality due to residual animal elements can help employees who suffer with allergies to breathe and function easier.
1. The water-mold factor- When commercial buildings get hit with water damage from leaks or broken pipes, excessive moisture can settle into air ducts. Humid air coming into the building from the outside can also be a problem.
Moisture in the HVAC sets the stage for mold to grow.
If your employees, building tenants, or customers report anything that looks or sounds like it can be mold give us a call. We can come out and inspect or consult with you over the phone.
1. Dust- Building construction, office remodeling, and even a simple thing like laying new office carpet are enough to stir up dust particles that have to go somewhere. Unfortunately they typically end up in the ventilation system.
If you’re running an education facility ever wonder where the chalk dust goes when kids clap together the erasers?
1. Chemical irritants-Chemicals used in commercial spaces can cause air ducts to get dirty and possibly contribute to poor air quality in your facility. To safeguard your workers and customers, make sure chemicals are stored in appropriately ventilated areas.
If you notice your employees complaining of throat irritation, tightness of the chest, or allergy-like symptoms, you may have a sick building on your hands.
If you suspect that your ducts may be dirty due to smoke, animals, moisture, dust or chemicals consider getting them cleaned.
A good cleaning can help those with respiratory ailments to have some relief from breathing challenges, and give facilities improved energy efficiency.