There are many reasons to inspect and clean an HVAC system. In the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) cleaning standard (ACR 2013) they recommendations an HVAC system should be cleaned when:
• It’s contaminated with an accumulation of particulate.
• It’s performance is compromised due to contamination build-up.
• It’s been determined to be a source of unacceptable odors.
• It’s is discharging visible dirt or debris into the conditioned space.
• It’s been contaminated as a result of fire, smoke, and or water damage.
• It’s been infested with birds, rodents, insects or their byproducts.
• It has been determined to be at risk for a fire hazard.
• It has become contaminated with construction debris or duct.
• It’s been contaminated by mold.
• It has deteriorated fiber glass duct liner, duct board, or other porous components.
• It’s part of an HVAC maintenance program as defined in ANSI/ASHRAE/ACCA Standard 180.
• It’s part of the HVAC equipment manufacturers recommended maintenance practices.
• It’s part of a proactive energy Management program
• It’s part of a proactive indoor air quality management program.
• It’s a component to achieve LEED Certification.
• A newly installed component or duct has been contaminated with construction and/or other dust and debris.
• There is any question on the need to clean, performing the NADCA Surface Comparison Test is an easy way to demonstrate the need for cleaning.
All of these are very good reasons to clean an HVAC system. But there is one thing that you must do in order to verify if many of these conditions exist. You must look at or inspect the HVAC system!
In residential HVAC systems this typically means looking at the 2-4 supply duct runs, 1-2 return duct runs, the air handler or furnace (and their internal components) and the dryer vent.
In commercial HVAC systems which are more complex you should inspect at least 10% of the systems components. This means looking at the air handler (filters, coils, condensate pans/drain lines, dampers, gaskets etc.), any fan coils, supply ductwork and its internal components (registers, dampers, mixing boxes, reheat coils etc), return duct work and its components (grilles, dampers, plenum, etc). You are basically looking at a representative sample of anything in the air stream. Plus, other exhausts systems like bathroom, laundry, general.
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