Ductwork cleaning

Regular Ductwork Cleaning and Maintenance Is an Essential Part of Running a Business

Introduction

As an apartment manager or business owner, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of others, whether they’re employees or tenants. Ensuring that the various aspects of the building are sound and in good condition helps keep your business running smoothly and regular ductwork cleaning and maintenance should be a part of your regular maintenance schedule.

Health Concerns

Air quality in the building is an important aspect of ensuring the health and well-being of the people in the building. Having poor air quality can result in people being sick more often and can result in a sharp decline in productivity. Many people believe that a lot of the pollution comes from the air ducts in the building, but the Environmental Protection Agency disagrees and states that there is very little evidence to support that duct cleaning will prevent health problems, since pollutants can enter a building from a wide variety of different sources and activities, such as cooking, cleaning and smoking.

When Should You Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned?

Even though ductwork cleaning may not improve the health of the people working or staying in a building, it should be a regular part of a wider maintenance schedule that encompasses all heating and cooling systems in the building. Ductwork cleaning should definitely be considered if you find the following is true:

  • The ducts air infested with vermin such as rodents or insects
  • The ducts contain so much dust or debris that they are clogged and cannot function correctly. If the ducts are clogged with debris, there may be a chance of particulate matter being released into the air of the building
  • There is visible and substantial toxic mold growth on your heating and cooling systems or on the ductwork itself. Be aware that many things may look like toxic mold, but the only way to confirm this is to send a sample away to a registered laboratory for analysis

If your air ducts are relatively clean and problem-free, knowing when to schedule a ductwork cleaning session can be tricky. A good guideline is to consider the people who work or stay in the building. If they are healthy and don’t suffer from allergies and the ducts appear relatively clean on a visual inspects, chances are you don’t need to engage in serious ductwork cleaning. However, if you find that people are complaining about unusual symptoms that disappear if they’re away from the building, consider checking out the indoor air quality by following the guidelines set by the EPA.

Preventing Duct Contamination

Prevention is better than cure and taking some preventative maintenance steps can go a long way to improving air quality in your building as well as minimizing duct contamination.

  • Inspect and change your filters regularly. If you find they become clogged, increase the rate at which you change them.
  • Ensure all air filters are in place and that air cannot go around them due to poor fitting.
  • When maintaining your heating and cooling system, also clean the cooling coils and drain pans.
  • If you’re doing construction work that generates plenty of dust, seal off your heating and cooling system and don’t use it until the dust is cleaned up.
  • Vacuum the carpets in the building regularly using HEPA cleaners or the highest efficiency filter bags that you can find.
  • Repair any water damage as quickly as possible to prevent moisture seeping into the duct work.

Conclusion

Duct inspection and maintenance should be part of your regular building maintenance routine, but ductwork cleaning should only be undertaken when there is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

Environmental Health Guidelines for Schools

guidelines

(Image Source: epa.gov)

This year, there has been a strong focus on creating healthier environments in schools. School environments play an important role for a student’s health and academic success of a child. The Environmental Protection Agency school website recently updated a new guidance for schools to create, maintain and enhance a school’s environmental health programs. There are three main guidelines that the agency has introduced in addition to the other programs that the EPA provides like kits for the indoor air quality management coordinators at schools and district levels.

The new guidelines can help health programs for K-12 schools. Many schools have been faced several environmental issues and other schools have been struggling implementing certain standards to help a school’s environment. In order for schools to see an improvement in their environment, indoor air quality and overall energy efficiency of schools these three guidelines can help schools and districts manage their own heath programs.

GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHIER KIDS AND HEALTHIER SCHOOLS

  • State School Environmental Health Guidelines: This guide will present recommendations,case studies and resources to improve the overall environmental K-12 health programs. Will answer questions regarding why the EPA issued these guidelines and why school environmental health programs are important.
  • Voluntary School Siting Guidelines: This guideline will help both school districts and community members understand environmental factors in school practices. Will also give an overview of how the public can be involved in the development of the health guides. This can include the IAQ industry get involved with schools to help them with the services they need.
  • Model School Environmental Health Program: Provides school with 5 key actions to sustain a healthy school environment. For instance, practice effective cleaning and maintenance, ensure good ventilation and prevent mold and moisture.

This is an overview of the updated guidelines that the EPA has issued and districts and schools can voluntarily use these methods and guidelines to improve the health and well being of students. At AirTek we have been creating cleaner, healthier, and more energy efficient indoor environments for over 25 years and we can help schools create a better environment for their students.

Download a free copy of our Don’t Get Sued! eBook to learn about mitigating liability risks associated with asbestos, lead paint, and mold.

 

 

Dryer lint trap

A Dryer Vent Cleaning Guide for Homeowners

Build-up in your dryer vent can lead to major problems. Knowing when to clean your clothes dryer vent and how you can prevent debris build-up in the ventilation system will keep your dryer vent working well and help to avoid the possibility of a fire.

Your clothes dryer, although extremely useful, can become a hazard if you do not properly maintain it. Poor maintenance can lead to inefficiency and malfunction. Even worse, a dryer can cause a house fire if the vent is not cleaned on a regular basis.

When To Clean Your Vent

There are several signs to look for that can tell you when it’s time for dryer maintenance. And as a general rule, you should go no longer than one year between vent cleaning services. When you dry a load of clothes, the following signs may indicate that it’s time for a cleaning:

  • Damp clothes at the end of a full drying cycle
  • Musty odor on your clothes
  • Extremely hot clothes at the end of a drying cycle
  • Long drying time
  • Large quantities of lint in the lint trap
  • Extreme heat in the laundry room while the dryer is running

If you notice any of these signs, you should immediately schedule a dryer vent cleaning.

Prevent Build-Up

there are several steps you can take to prevent build-up in your dryer vent. First, be careful when using dryer sheets and fabric softener; do not use more than necessary. Also, try not to run the dryer for more than 40 minutes at a time, and choose to air dry heavier items outdoors on a line or fence. In addition, you can place a grated ventilation cap on the outdoor vent to keep debris out. Regular, light cleanings also make a big difference in dryer performance. This can be done by using a vacuum to clean the inside of your dryer and the outside of dryer vents.

Proper Dryer Vent Cleaning

Most people remember to clean out the lint trap on a regular basis. Although this is important, there are other steps you should take to prevent problems. Check to see what type of material was used on the duct that connects the dryer to the main vent. Vinyl or plastic is easily flammable, so these types of ducts should be replaced with semi-rigid metal ducts. You should also check the vent on the outside of the house and make sure it is clear of any debris. If there is something blocking it, there is an increased risk of fire.

Having a technician come into your home and do a full dryer vent cleaning on a regular basis is the best way to keep your family safe. These technicians have the tools needed to clean out the debris that accumulate throughout the ventilation pipe. Using a vacuum tube and snake brush, the technician can loosen and remove any dirt that has accumulated. There are several bends and elbows in this pipe, and these areas can easily build-up debris and are hard to reach with regular household tools. The technician will clear these areas as well.

However, by doing your part to prevent debris build-up and cleaning your dryer vents regularly, your dryer will work better and your home will be safer.

Air Quality: Bay Area Refineries Will Face New Regulations

refineries

This summer, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed emission standards for refineries to protect nearby neighborhoods and to protect the general public toxic air that is emitted from petroleum refineries. The proposal will require monitoring air concentrations around the area, changes in storage tanks, ensure that waste gases are properly destroyed and standards for delayed cooking units which are an unregulated source of toxic air emission. Keeping this in mind, Bay Area oil refineries will begin to face the new regulations starting next year. Bay are oil refineries will cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. A board member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District wants to continue to see improvements in air quality in the area.

The air quality in the Bay area recently has been in good standing according to the air quality index. With new regulations beginning to be proposed in the upcoming year for refineries, we can see an improvement in the air quality. In addition, monitoring emission will also help cut emissions in half while refineries use emission control technologies to reduce pollutants. However, it will take time for refineries to be up to date with the regulations and may take time to see any changes in our air quality.

HIGH AIR POLLUTION LEVELS CAN CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS FROM REFINERIES

The biggest concern in neighborhoods that are nearby these refineries are the health problems that many individuals can face. Health problems that are seen in individuals who live near by refineries are an increased reactivity to allergens, eye irritation, headaches and cardiovascular and respiratory illness. Since monitoring will take effect in areas near several refineries, several environmental agencies will be working with these refineries to help improve the air quality around these neighborhoods.

We will keep you updated with the latest updates on the regulations as more and more refineries cope with the new regulations. Follow our Google plus page and our social media sites to give you updates on these topics and when we post our blog posts. AirTek strives in creating cleaner, healthier, and more energy efficient indoor environments.

If you have any questions regarding indoor air quality and how to make your home safer, cleaner and better for your breathing call us to set up an appointment.

Air Duct Cleaning Services

Get Healthier Breathing Air with Air Duct Cleaning Services

The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection has estimated that the air in some homes could contain between two to five times the amounts of air pollution that you would be exposed to on a busy city street. In some cases, the amount of pollution may be as high as 100 times. Today’s energy efficient homes are more airtight than before, which is adding to indoor air quality issues.

Concerns about Your Family’s Health
If you have a family member in your home who suffers from allergies or asthma, making sure the air in your home is healthy is most likely a concern for you. Symptoms and other illnesses that may be exacerbated by poor indoor air quality include:

  • Increased instances of colds or viruses
  • Nasal congestion and nosebleeds
  • Sore throats
  • Headaches
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Eye irritation
  • Lack of energy and fatigue

Many of these symptoms can be directly traced back to your heating and cooling system. An important part of this system is the network of air ducts and if your air ducts are dirty, the contaminants inside are in the air that you and your family breathe in your home.

What’s Lurking in Your Air Ducts?
Many types of contaminants can settle within your air ducts. These contaminants may include:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Pet hair and dander
  • Dust mites
  • Mold and mildew
  • Bacteria and viruses

Once a contaminant enters your indoor environment, it is likely that it will be continually recirculated in the air throughout your home. This generally relates back to the airtightness of your home with limited fresh air being regularly introduced, especially during the cooler months when windows and doors are kept shut.

The often warm and dark environment in your air ducts make this area of your home an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew to grow. This increases the likelihood that you and your family members will be more susceptible to illness during the cooler months.

Fight Back Against Indoor Air Pollution
There are ways to fight back and make your home’s air healthier for you and your family. The first place to start is by having your air ducts cleaned. It is suggested that you schedule air duct cleaning services at least every three to five years or more often if needed.

Air duct cleaning services include a thorough cleaning of your ductwork to remove any contaminants that may have settled within your ducts. Afterwards, the sanitization process will eliminate bacteria, viruses, and possible traces of mold or mildew. The result is cleaner and fresher air throughout your home that does not pose a threat to your family’s health.

To keep the air in your home healthy, you may want to consider other services in addition to air duct cleaning services, such as duct sealing. This process will seal any holes or cracks that will allow contaminants to enter your ductwork and help keep your ductwork cleaner.

Download a free copy of our Don’t Get Sued! eBook to learn about mitigating liability risks associated with asbestos, lead paint, and mold.

healthcare facility air duct cleaning

Healthcare Facility Air Duct Cleaning: 5 Contractor Traits to Look For

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are 24/7 living, breathing environments and that means that maintaining indoor air quality is an integral part of operations and vital in the effort to prevent the spread of airborne disease, especially in critical areas of hospitals, in which patients are immunocompromised. This is exactly why regular air duct cleaning needs to be performed by licensed and experienced professionals.

In addition, HVAC system cleaning allows systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components, and clean, efficient HVAC systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.

Here are five traits healthcare engineers can keep in mind when searching for a contractor to help keep air quality high at their facility:

1. Industry Standard

Schedule routine servicing and cleaning of air ducts with a contractor who is trained in and uses use the HVAC industry’s standard requirements – ACR: The NADCA Standard – to ensure that HVAC systems are assessed, cleaned and restored safely and efficiently.

2. Preventative Solutions
In addition to routine servicing and cleaning, facilities manager and healthcare engineers should also keep an eye forward to work with their air duct provider on preventative maintenance solutions that stop problems before they start.

3. Focused on Partnership
Does your contractor work with (and around) the needs of your nursing staff, engineers, and facilities personnel? Are they proactive in building relationships and developing plans to keep everyone on the same page and working effectively and safely?

4. Certification Expertise
Is your air quality and air duct cleaning partner experienced in achieving and maintaining certification from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?

5. Valid License
Always check the license status of your contractor. You can look up your contractor at http://www.cslb.ca.gov or call 1-800-321-2752.

By looking out for these five traits, you can be more secure in your choice of an air duct cleaning provider that understands the unique needs and challenges presented in a healthcare facility.

Read more about the project AirTek completed for a Los Angeles health clinic.

Stop Ebola in Africa

Preventing the Spread of Infectious Disease

Luckily, it sounds like an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the US has been averted, but we have all been thinking about how to stop infections diseases from infecting more people every day. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are (or should be) accustomed to the practices which prevent infectious disease from spreading from patient to patient and patient to caregiver.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 25 hospital patients “end up with hospital acquired infections.” That sounds like a lot of people getting sick from being in the hospital. They estimate that in 2011 75,000 deaths were related to hospital acquired infections.

Hospital acquired infections can range from urinary tract and surgical site infections to viral infections when sick populations interact with patients who are immune compromised.

Some hospitals are much worse than others. What’s the difference?

Preventing Hospital Acquired Infection and the Spread of Infectious Disease

Your hospital should be:

Cleaning and maintaining ventilation systems

Cleaning and maintaining water systems

Training facilities personnel in best practices

You should be:

Washing your hands with soap and water frequently, even in the hospital

Get vaccinated on schedule

Stay home if you are sick

Don’t share personal grooming items or cosmetics

Don’t touch your eyes or nose unless you have just washed your hands

Staying out of the hospital if possible by getting regular healthcare before you are in an emergency situation

AirTek offers many services to healthcare facilities, including:

  • Infection Control
  • Fire and Smoke Damper Inspections
  • Fire Stopping Services
  • Complete Air Duct Cleaning
  • HVAC Cleaning
  • Dryer Vent Cleaning
  • Kitchen Hood and Exhaust Cleaning
  • Video Inspection

We would be happy to help your facility prevent infectious diseases, even when we are not all talking about Ebola 24/7.

 

 

commercial hood cleaning

Commercial Hood Cleaning for Healthcare Facilities

The kitchen ranges used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities accumulate grease inside the exhaust hood, which if left unchecked can become sticky and dirty exposing you, your employees and patients to fire and health hazards.

Healthcare engineers and facilities managers need to ensure that the kitchen exhaust hoods are being cleaned every 90 days by a contractor who is fully trained in accordance with the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA) regulations and procedures.

If possible, it’s best to have an IKECA-certified exhaust cleaning specialist (CECS) who will have been trained in best practices, completed 1,000 hours of work experience, and have passed a comprehensive exam on industry guidelines, codes and standards.

An Overview of the Cleaning Process
A thorough servicing will include the cleaning of the hood, plenum, duct risers, filtration system and filters, grease boxes, kitchen equipment, exhaust fans, washable ceilings, floors, ductwork, and rooftop. The technician(s) will then use a power washing and steam cleaning process that cleans ductwork down to the “bare metal” and reaches into the depths of the duct for thorough servicing.

In addition, if the grease buildup is initially too excessive for power and steam cleaning, it’s important that the technicians conduct an initial scraping of the duct systems.

The cleaning procedure – step by step

Cleaning the Receptacles

Commercial hood cleaning starts with dismantling the exhaust system. Once the parts are dismantled, the next step is to remove the grease receptacles and thoroughly clean them.

Typically the receptacles slide outwards from the sides of the exhaust hood and any liquid found on the receptacles will be carefully removed and safely disposed. The receptacle is then soaked into a mixture of grease cutting detergent and hot water until the grease is completely removed. At which time the receptacles are taken out of the mixture and hung to dry.

While the receptacles soak, the inner surfaces of the exhaust hood will need to be scrubbed to remove any baked grease residue lining the interiors.

Cleaning the Filters

After removing the grease receptacles, it’s time to take down the filters from the commercial hood. The filters are soaked in a solution of detergent and hot water (note that the soaking time will vary based on the severity of the grease build-up.) As soon as the grease residue becomes loose enough, the filters will be taken out of the solution and lightly scrubbed to take off any remaining bits of residue. Once clean, they’ll be air dried before fitting them back into the hood.

Cleaning the Rest of the Commercial Exhaust Hood

A degreasing solution will be sprayed on the exhaust hood and will loosen any grease residue on the surfaces. The residue will fall off on its own and a sponge or cloth will be used to wipe the surfaces to remove any remaining residues.

If stubborn spots persist, a scraping will be done using nylon sponges and plastic scrapers to avoid damaging the surfaces of the hood. Afterwards the hood will be rinsed and dried at which point the filters will be replaced as well as the receptacles.

Cleaning the Rest

After the initial cleaning, it’s time for the power washing and steam cleaning portion of the job. This level of servicing will ensure that grease is removed from even the places in the duct that cannot be reached by hand.

Consider Professional Commercial Hood Cleaning

It would be misleading to say that you can’t clean your hoods on your own. However, for the most thorough and safe cleaning, it’s always best to hire a professional. Look for the following four qualities when hiring a contractor:

  • IKECA membership – IKECA stands for the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association. Members of the association uphold the highest standards in kitchen exhaust cleaning.
  • IKECA-certified exhaust cleaning specialist (CECS) – They will have been trained in best practices, completed 1,000 hours of work experience, and have passed a comprehensive exam on industry guidelines, codes and standards.
  • Multiple cleaning methods – Exhaust cleaning isn’t just about hand scraping the grease off surfaces. Ask the contractor to walk you through all of the steps they take when servicing a kitchen hood. Steam cleaning and power washing should be part of the process.
  • Help with servicing the larger air control system – The cleanliness of the kitchen exhaust system affects your entire air control system. A reputable hood cleaner will know this and offer suggestions on how to improve the entire air system of your facility overall.

Read more about the project AirTek completed for a Los Angeles health clinic.

infectious control

Infectious Control: 3 Considerations During Healthcare Facility Renovations

Healthcare engineers and facilities managers gearing up for a renovation project understand just how important it is to manage the infectious control process and protect the facility’s integrity during construction activities that can affect air quality, increase the risk of infection in some patients, and stir up dust and other airborne particles.

Here are three areas to consider when vetting out an infectious control contractor to maintain the health and well-being of patients and healthcare workers during renovation and construction projects at healthcare facilities.

Permits & Risk Assessments & Safety Strategies
Does your contractor have experience generating permits for similar jobs? There will likely be need for ICRA (infection control risk assessments) permits and assessments before work begins so you’ll want to make sure they know how to coordinate and pull necessary permits. Your contractor should work closely with facility management to develop control and safety strategies, beginning with conducting an infectious control risk assessment that will be instrumental in constructing a project management plan.

Containment Barriers
Setting up proper containment methods and as well as being knowledgeable in the proper equipment usage is key in coordinating a successful renovation or construction project. Does your contractor use on-site safety officers and quality controllers to inspect the work and ensure proper setup?

Find out if they have experience:

  • building and utilizing containment areas for controlling and monitoring negative air pressure
  • conducting terminal cleaning
  • ensuring compliance with health and safety rules and regulations
  • coordination of firewall penetration installations
  • inspections of fire stopping in compliance with current fire codes

Non-invasive Activities
Ask after the strategies they employ as regards non-invasive activities and inspections. Do they use short duration activity strategies to create minimal dust? What are the tried and true methods they use during demolition, building component removal, and new construction projects which can create moderate to high levels of dust?

Read more about the project AirTek completed for a Los Angeles health clinic.

The Importance of Having a Sealed Ventilation System

Sealed Ventilation Systems

Having a clean ventilation system is important because it can maintain the indoor air quality at neutral levels and help the system work properly. The importance of a sealed ventilation systems is important in any environment. Having an air duct system sealed also plays an important part in maintaining your environment comfortable. The air we breathe indoors is circulated to maintain proper indoor conditions. Our HVAC systems will operate to heat, cool, dehumidify and filter out contaminants indoors. Contaminants found indoors can be dust, debris and pet dander. However, when a system is not properly sealed many problems can arise and cause the system to perform poorly.Below are the some examples of what happens when ducts are not sealed.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A SEALED VENTILATION SYSTEM?

  • Avoid any leaks: When a system leaks it can cause musty and moldy odors.
  • Air leakage: Air will bypass to the air filter and you might see dust covered in several areas when  you have finished cleaning your home.
  • High Energy Bill.
  • Moisture Build-Up
  • Unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through the unsealed ducts.

It is important to maintain proper maintenance in HVAC systems but it is also important to have sealed ducts to avoid any issues and to maintain a comfortable healthy environment The National Air Duct Cleaners Association states, ” Many times the air ducts are not installed with proper support, and over time the joints pull apart.”Business owners also can see these same problems and can lead to occupant complaints. If you have any questions regarding your HVAC system, we service many areas in California and industries. Contact us with any of your concerns and questions and we will be of assistance. AirTek strives in creating cleaner, healthier and more energy efficient indoor environments and have been doing so for over 25 years.

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