Proper air duct cleaning equipment is crucial for succeeding in the duct cleaning business. Because of the sensitivity of air conditioning, homeowners demand exceptional duct cleaning. Therefore, you need to invest in delivering quality service. The right air duct cleaning equipment can keep your customers coming back.
In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about air duct cleaning. We will cover proper air duct cleaning practices and the different types of equipment available in the market today.
More importantly, you will know how to choose the right tools for your work. That way, you can begin offering top of the range services to your clients.
What is an Air Duct
If you ask the average homeowner about Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), they will
likely picture the bulky air conditioner outside their home, the furnace in their basement, or the vents around their house. Few of them will think about the metal channels that bring everything together.
These channels are air ducts. They provide the conduit for warmed or cooled air to move throughout a home.
A duct channel comprises the main trunk and the duct pipes that connect the trunk to each of the rooms. These trunks and pipes are often made of galvanized steel. For walls that require a bendable option, flexible aluminum, or flex piping is used.
Besides the trunk and connecting pipes, other specialized ducts can exist in an HVAC system. For example, a tall, thin, vertical pipe called a stack allows air to move through a thin wall.
What is Air Duct Cleaning
Air ducts convey cleaned and conditioned air. Over time, however, this vital circulatory system can become contaminated.
Air duct cleaning refers to the removal of contaminants from ductwork using professional air duct cleaning equipment.
A typical air duct cleaning operation touches on the supply, intake, and return vents. It can also include cleaning the grills and registers, heating and cooling coils, and condensate drain pans.
Most HVAC companies offer holistic duct cleaning as part of their comprehensive maintenance service packages.
Importance of Air Duct Cleaning
According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the average home creates up to 40 pounds of dust annually. An HVAC system circulates air several times a day. Dust and other pollutants continuously get pulled into air ducts and accumulate on their walls. When enough of these elements have built up, they can find their way back into living spaces.
Additionally, harmful mold and bacteria can thrive in the ductwork, causing allergies and respiratory problems to the occupants of a home. Indoor air pollution has been recognized as a top environmental health risk.
Because air ducts are often hidden behind walls or above ceilings, it is easy to forget they need maintenance. However, thorough cleaning can significantly improve the quality of indoor air.
Duct cleaning can promote the airflow by removing all the debris stuck in an HVAC system. It can also make a central air conditioning system more efficient and long-lasting.
Before - Duct Cleaning
After - Duct Cleaning
How to Clean an Air Duct
As a duct cleaning contractor, it is your job to ensure a client’s ductwork is cleaned properly. Knowing the best practices will give you the confidence to guarantee your customers quality service.
Air duct cleaning methods vary, but associations like NADCA have established some much-needed standards. Generally, ductwork cleaning companies’ clean HVAC systems in four steps:
- Accessing the system
- Loosening the contaminants
- Collecting the debris and
- Sanitizing the ductwork
Accessing the system
Not all premises offer easy access to ductwork. Therefore, getting to the ducts that need cleaning can require significant effort.
The easiest way to access duct interiors is through existing openings. These can be supply diffusers, return grills, or duct end caps. You may also need to cut entry holes in the duct pipes to get inside with the cleaning tools.
Loosening the contaminants
Once you gain access to the ductwork, the next step is dislodging the dirt stuck on the air duct walls. For effective loosening, you need specialized agitation devices.
Depending on the severity of the contamination, you can use rotary brushes, air whips, or compressed air nozzles. You can also dislodge a considerable amount of debris through hand-brushing and contact vacuuming.
Dual Motor Duct Vacuum
ProAir’s Dual Motor Portable Vacuum System rivals expensive Truck-Mounted Vacuum machines. Two German Engineered Motors built for superior power and durability allows for maximum cleaning experience.
Collecting the debris
During the agitation process, you must place the entire HVAC system under a continuous vacuum. Suitable vacuum systems range from massive truck-mounted machines to portable equipment like ProAir’s Dual Motor unit.
Connecting the vacuum to the duct trunk creates negative pressure in the ductwork. In this environment, the dirt being dislodged cannot spread in the duct or escape into the living space.
The vacuum conveniently sucks out all loosened contaminants and collects them into a specialized holding bag or drum.
Our System Includes:
- 900 Air Watts, 145 CFM, 160 Water lift, 120 Volts
- Two German designed & manufactured Vacuum Motors
- Large 9 Gallon Debris Capacity
- High Suction Power, Rated Best in The Industry
- These High-Performance Motors are Designed for Rugged Durability and Made to Last
- ProAir Dual Motor Vacuum power is 2X’s the power of vacuums on the market today
- This ProAir Vac model should be selected if you want max power
- Custom Lightweight Protective Vacuum Dolly
- 25 ft Black 1-1/2 in Suction Hose
BioClean Duct Sanitizing Sprayer
ProAir’s BioClean Duct Sanitizing Sprayer applies duct sanitizer directly to the duct walls and allows more Sanitizer to be applied than the traditional fogger unit. Our system allows you to control the amount of sanitizer to the areas that are most important.
Sanitizing the ductwork
An air duct cleaning operation can also include applying chemical biocides to nonporous surfaces in the HVAC system. These chemicals can be sanitizers, disinfectants, or deodorizers.
Only consider using these products after you have cleaned the ducts mechanically by agitation and vacuuming. That way, you will be sure that chemical treatment is needed.
BioClean Duct Sanitizing Sprayer
ProAir’s BioClean Duct Sanitizing Sprayer applies duct sanitizer directly to the duct walls and allows more Sanitizer to be applied than the traditional fogger unit. Our system allows you to control the amount of sanitizer to the areas that are most important. The “end-of-line” ducting at the register is where the air pressure is at its lowest and one of the highest concern of debris build up. For this reason, the need for increased sanitizer is critical for proper duct sanitizing.
Our System Includes:
- BioClean Sanitizing Sprayer
- 24 inch Duct Spraying Wand
- Durable Protective Case
- Ladder Hook
Different types of Air Duct Cleaning Equipment
Complete Duct Cleaning Package
Our Complete Air Duct Cleaning Package has everything you need to start in your air duct cleaning business (air compressor and rotary brush system not-included).
With our training videos you can learn quickly to operate our Complete Duct Cleaning System.
Knowing how to clean ductwork is only one half of the coin. The other is having all the air duct cleaning equipment you need to do the job.
A successful duct cleaning operation will typically involve the use of several different types of equipment. Today professional duct cleaners use the critical tools given below.
Access tools are devices that HVAC technicians use to create entry points in the ductwork. These points allow them to inspect and clean the inside of the duct pipes. They may range from tiny holes for optical imaging, to entryways that are large enough to fit service personnel and bulky equipment.
To create minor access points, you would likely need a drill with a one-inch drill bit. For greater access, you might utilize pneumatic cutters and electric shears.
You can use a visual inspection device to evaluate the debris accumulation within an air duct. The right inspection gear can also help you to monitor the cleaning process and assess the success of your methods. Some standard tools include hand-held mirrors, periscopes, and CCTV cameras.
Cleaning tools come in different shapes and forms. However, their general purpose is the same: to agitate the debris and dislodge it from the air duct walls. Once removed, the contaminants can be propelled toward the containment system.
The most popular professional cleaning tools are rotary brushes, air guns, and air whips.
A basic rotary system comprises a brush attached to a rotating shaft. You can drive the shaft with a suitably sized drill that has variable speed operation. The brush knocks off debris when it rotates in the duct.
Our Rotary Brush System allows you to detail clean larger commercial ducting. .This package includes our Rotary Brush Cleaning System to facilitate commercial duct openings.
8 inch Brush Head
25 ft. Rotary Brush System
You can use a high-powered air gun to “air-wash” surfaces like register covers. Air washing pushes debris into the vacuum.
An air whip can come in handy when loosening stubborn dirt. Its plastic tentacles will thrash aggressively against the walls of the air duct.
The tentacles are usually equipped with nozzles. The air blasts from these nozzles are incredibly useful in pushing dislodged debris toward the collection device.
Vacuum Collection Devices
Vacuum units create negative pressure in the HVAC system to control the movement of contaminants when cleaning. Depending on the size of your operation, you can utilize either a truck-mounted vacuum system or a portable wheeled vacuum.
Truck-mounted equipment generally provides more power than a portable unit. However, you can position a portable vacuum closer to the ductwork. Furthermore, a portable vacuum works with a shorter hose. It therefore, loses less suction power than a truck-mounted machine.
Our Dual Motor Vacuum
ProAir’s Dual Motor Portable Vacuum System rivals expensive Truck-Mounted Vacuum machines. Two German Engineered Motors built for superior power and durability allows for maximum cleaning experience.
Many tools used in air duct cleaning are pneumatically powered. A compressor is therefore a necessary support machine. Air guns and air whips rely on the air pressure a compressor supplies.
Compressors are usually truck-mounted. Portable varieties are available for use in worksites where truck access is limited.
Craftsman Air Compressor, 20 Gallon, 1.8 HP, Oil-Free Air Tools, Max 175 PSI Pressure, 2 Quick Coupler, Long Lifecycle Low Noise, Model: CMXECXA0232043
Why do you need Air Duct Cleaning Equipment
As you have learned, pieces of modern air duct cleaning equipment are diverse and powerful. They enable effective HVAC cleaning in a variety of circumstances.
That said, proper air duct cleaning tools do not come cheap. Unsurprisingly, many cleaning companies struggle with justifying the heavy investment. Some professionals even make the mistake of buying flimsy equipment that costs them dearly in the long term.
The right equipment will benefit your air duct cleaning business in the following ways among others.
All technicians want to know they can rely on their equipment to work as they expect. With the right equipment, you can eliminate machine unpredictability and minimize the possibility of an accident.
You can use a wide array of tools to clean an air duct. However, the severity of contaminants varies, and so does the ductwork structure.
If you use equipment meant for a different type of surface, for instance, you might need more effort to clean the air duct significantly. Similarly, if you apply more rigorous cleaning than necessary, you may end up damaging the ductwork.
Using appropriate air duct cleaning equipment ensures you get the job done right the first time. You therefore avoid repeat jobs that would negatively affect your margins.
Pros & Cons of Air Duct Cleaning Equipment
All types of air duct cleaning equipment have their individual characteristics. By considering their specific strengths and weaknesses, you can accurately determine where and how best to use them.
Below is our breakdown of the pluses and minuses of some common air duct cleaning tools.
An air gun delivers streams of high-pressure air to dislodge accumulated dirt in air ducts. It is suitable for removing light debris accumulation in small and medium air duct systems.
- Easy and quick to use
- Fits through a one-inch-diameter hole
- Can work through turns and drops in the air duct system
- Not as effective as an air whip or rotary brush
An air whip thrashes around inside the air duct. It makes contact with the duct surface, effectively removing the built-up dirt. The air whip’s bristles also have nozzles that blow air forward towards the vacuum suction.
An air whip is best used to clean light to medium dirt accumulation in small and medium ductwork.
- Straightforward to use
- Dislodges and blows debris in one pass
- Works in most ducts
- Can negotiate drops and turns in the ductwork
- Cleans better than an air gun
- Not as effective as rotary brushes
Rotary brush systems
A rotary brush system removes accumulated dirt by knocking it off aggressively with rotating brush bristles. You can use it to clean all types of small and medium-size ductwork.
- Easy to use
- Makes contact with the entire duct surface
- Flexible rotary systems can navigate through the ductwork’s turns and drops
- Cleans better than both air guns and air whips
- The brush wears out and must be replaced regularly
How to buy Air Duct Cleaning Equipments
The tools we have discussed so far are used by air duct cleaning contractors every day. If you are in the market for new equipment, however, some of the tools available will serve you better than others. To make the best decision, you must weigh the options available against your work and your budget.
In this section, you will learn the key consideration to make choosing the two main pieces of duct cleaning equipment: the vacuum unit and the rotary brushing kit.
How to buy a Truck-Mounted Vacuum System
Large-scale air duct cleaning requires equipment that can handle the job. If you are aiming to start cleaning air ducts in massive high-rise buildings, you will need a truck-mounted vacuum machine.
A truck vacuum will be a significant investment. To avoid making detrimental mistakes, keep these tips in mind.
Ask for references
If you have identified potential sources of truck vacuums, ask each of them for contacts of their previous clients. Their feedback on the purchasing process and how their truck has served them so far can help you land the right seller or builder.
Know what you are buying
Get an itemized listing of your truck. This list must include everything that comes with the vehicle, down to the last valve. Do not just settle for a vague agreement that merely lists the truck, pump and tank. If possible, check the vehicle out physically.
Get a delivery date
Once you have settled on the right truck builder, get the delivery date in writing. You can apply a penalty in case the builder fails to deliver on time. The last thing you want is to accept the delivery of a partially finished truck.
How to buy a Portable Vacuum Unit
A portable vacuum is the most sensible solution for companies that clean small and medium sized HVAC systems. It is cheaper and more convenient than a truck-mounted machine. It can also get as close to ductwork as possible.
With so many brands and models, it can be challenging to choose a portable vacuum for air duct cleaning. Considering the features below carefully will give you the best chance of landing the right unit.
Bag or bagless
A bagged vacuum collects the debris dislodged from air ducts into a disposable bag. This bag is usually easy to remove and dispose. It therefore protects you from getting into contact with allergens. However, buying new bags every now and then can make owning a bagged unit expensive in the long run.
Most professional air duct cleaning portable vacuum systems are bagless. The ProAir duct vacuum unit, for instance, comes with a nine gallon drum to collect debris. You will need to empty the tank once in a while, but you will not suffer the expense of replacing bags. A bagless unit also delivers a steadier flow of air through ductwork than a bagged vacuum.
When shopping for a portable vacuum, you will hear terms like primary and secondary filters and filtration states. A vacuum’s primary filter protects the motor from debris damage. A secondary filter prevents the debris collected from leaking out into living space. The number of filtration stages means the number of layers that make up the main filter.
As expected, a unit with a comprehensive multi-stage filtration system offers the safest and most convenient duct cleaning experience. On the flip side, it will also be more expensive than one with basic, two-stage filtration.
A portable vacuum is meant to be wheeled and carried. Therefore, the heavier the unit, the more cumbersome it will be in your worksite. It might not be advisable to compromise on the capacity for a smaller vacuum. Nonetheless, you can achieve a balance between these two factors by getting a unit with a light dolly, such as the ProAir portable vacuum system.
The best portable air duct cleaning vacuum units come with functions that improve their usability and longevity. A system with a blockage sensor, for instance, will shut off when a blockage occurs. This feature protects the unit’s internal components from damage.
Meanwhile, a full bag indicator will tell you when the bag or drum is full and needs to be replaced or emptied. If you get a unit with Suction Power Dimming, you will be able to reduce the suction to adapt to different air duct surfaces.
How to buy a Rotary Brushing Kit
Rotary brushes are extremely effective at dislodging debris from air ducts. However, different surfaces require different types of brushes. A proper ProAir rotary brushing kit will have a selection of several versatile brush heads.
These brushes can include nylon bristles for round steel ducts and soft-poly bristles for flex duct and duct-board cleaning. You may also want a kit with a whip brush for cleaning rectangular steel ducts.
A rotary brushing package with a wide assortment of brushes can be expensive. Fortunately, you will have everything you need to clean ductwork of all types.
What are customers saying about ProAir Duct Cleaning Equipment
As one of the leading companies in the air duct cleaning equipment business, ProAir prides itself on providing comprehensive systems at affordable prices.
Former clients have expressed satisfaction in the reliability of their equipment. As reviews further indicate, customers are delighted with the value that the equipment has added to their duct cleaning businesses.
ProAir has come up with a system that allows me to integrate Duct Cleaning in our HVAC Repair & maintenance. It has created addition income that I hoped for and it has payed for self in a month
Chris Dalton, Owner
It has increased my average job by $800!! It gives me the option of being a complete air quality service.
Aron Rodgers, Owner
More people are worried about their Air Ducts than ever before. Best priced machine I could find for under 5,000
Roberto Rameriz, Owner
Frequently Asked Questions from Homeowners
Does ProAir offer any financing?
Yes we do! Check out our financing link in our menu.
What type of revenue can I expect?
Typical charges for duct cleaning starts at $22 per sq ft 1200 sq. ft. home = $264 (our minimum $299)
or by areas to be cleaned: HVAC unit cleaning, registers or air handlers, returns & sanitizing
$50 – $70: HVAC Unit
Does ProAir offer a Rotary Brush System?
YES! Nearly all residential ducting consists of a thin, flexible plastic lining, which is easily damaged by rotary bushing. But many commercial metal ducts need a brush tool to clean some types of commercial ducting and are offered as an add on to any of our cleaning packages.
Why should I add air duct cleaning to my business?
Adding air duct cleaning to your business creates an additional revenue stream. There’s a growing demand for the services of removing dust and debris from ducts. If you can’t provide them, another company will—and that gives your competition a foot in the door with your existing customers and prospects alike. These services are simple to provide, they can be profitable quickly, and they’re a natural extension of your existing business.
Does ProAir Unit clean the HVAC trunk-line?
Many Negative Air Duct Cleaning System companies will tell you that Contact Method duct cleaning equipment companies ignore the trunk lines. Maybe some do but we do not. Trunk Lines is the main source of air flow in any forced-air system and it requires inspection to see if there is attached debris. The maximum air flow is at the trunk line meaning the most powerful part of any forced-air system is the motor or fan that pushes air to all the registers. (pushes air flow to you)
In our years of experience, we have examined first hand that trunk lines and rarely (95% of the time) find debris. Most of the debris ends up at the registers because the air flow is at the lowest pressure as the forced-air system spiders out to all the register openings. Does that make sense? The easiest way to think of this is the more open registers there are, the less air flow to each duct opening will be achieved. Therefore, on large homes or offices there are more forced-air units required to achieve comfortable heating or air conditioning.
How much time is involved in a duct cleaning job?
ProAir Duct Cleaning system cuts time down dramatically with our Complete Duct Cleaning Package because of its portability. Depending on the job size will better determine time spent. Negative air systems tend to be large, heavy & costly. Moving this type of cleaning unit in and out of homes takes more time to set-up and tear down per job.
Do you need training for use of the ProAir System?
You need training for use of the ProAir system and it is included with your purchase. We provide you a private Youtube channel as well as our customer service hot-line to answer any question you may have. Many people find our system simple and easy to use. You’ll probably spend 2 hours reviewing the material, and you’ll be comfortable performing your first duct cleaning right out of the gate. We recommend watching our youtube training video and practice on your own home. If you do have questions at any time, our tech support line is open to all ProAir Members. You will have questions when you start and we are here for you and will walk you through the steps.
How does ProAir’s Dual Motor Vacuum compares to others
ProAir Dual Motor Vacuum system is a very powerful suction source in our cleaning package. With a powerful 175 PSI compressor and our reverse ball blows the sides of the duct as it loosened dust & debris toward our clear duct box. Since much of the air movement is supplied by the air compressor, the vacuum source can vary from a high-quality portable unit to a truck-mounted vacuum (such as those used by carpet cleaners). ProAir’s Powerful Dual Motor Vac System combines the convenience of a portable with the power of a truckmount in a lightweight (74 pounds!), extremely powerful 900 Air Watts, 145 CFM, 160 Water-lift, 120 Volt machine. No other portable machine on the market can compare to the easy maneuverability and professional look.
What type of air compressor is recommended?
One of the important factors in an air compressor is the tank capacity. You want to be sure to have enough air available to sustain the 25-30 seconds of blasting required for each duct between recharge times. A minimum of 15-20 gallons capacity is recommended. We use the Craftsman Air Compressor, 20 Gallon, 1.8 HP, Oil-Free Air Tools, Max 175 PSI Pressure. However any brand with 175 psi power will work correctly.
Can you clean Dryer Vent Ducts with ProAir systems?
This is another area in which our system works extremely well. We use our reverse ball & air compressor and sometimes on larger metal ducts we will use our brush system. We have done many dryer vent cleanings and is a nice add-on or stand alone service. Our training video covers this is in detail. Average pricing $129-$299 (Roof Access)
If duct openings are too large what do I do?
This happens a lot in commercial cleaning projects. The 16”x 8” opening of our vacuum box is large enough to cover nearly all supply duct openings in residential homes. For cleaning registers and returns in commercial ducts our 24” x 24” Vacuum Plate works perfect.
Air duct cleaning is essential to maintain a comfortable and healthy home. To achieve great results, however, you must do it with the right equipment.
We hope this post has answered all the questions you had concerning air duct cleaning equipment. With this information in mind, you have the best shot at getting the equipment you need to perform successful air duct cleaning operations.