9 Jun 2023

How to improve airflow & air quality in ductwork

If your duct system isn’t providing the airflow and air quality you need, it may be time to give them a clean. This is an easily neglected area of your HVAC system, which can build up over time and affect things like the air quality of your workspace. High-quality ductwork is no exception – as all types of ductwork need regular upkeep to ensure a clean working environment.

You may have noticed the signs already – such as quiet ductwork, sometimes noisy ductwork, a bad smell or temperatures that just aren’t nice to work in. No matter the problem, your ductwork could be the culprit.  Many building owners and managers don’t think about duct cleaning until after a problem with their HVAC system, but it’s a very important part of routine maintenance. Dirty ducts can lead to poor air circulation, poor air quality and all sorts of health problems. This blog post discusses the benefits of cleaning your ductwork, the consequences of unmaintained ductwork in the workplace, and the steps you can take to keep your ductwork clean. 

What are the benefits of cleaning ductwork?

The main benefit is, of course, a better airflow. However, there are tons of other benefits that you can reap with regular ductwork cleaning and maintenance.

1. Better air quality

Vents, ducts and other parts of your HVAC system will accumulate dust, allergens and even mould spores over time. This is particularly true if you work in an environment where dust particles are ever-present. Regularly scheduled cleaning of your ductwork can reduce the amount of these irritating particles that get into your HVAC system and can improve the health and safety of your workplace.

2. Improved energy efficiency

Energy and cost-savings are always a perk, and this applies to regularly keeping your ductwork clean too. When your ductwork is clogged up with dust and other undesirable particles, it can restrict airflow and make your central HVAC system work harder than it needs to. This is obviously something you’ll want to avoid, so get to cleaning to keep costs down and efficiency high.

3. Increase ductwork longevity

A clean HVAC ductwork system means less chance of the system breaking down and needing a replacement. Plus, by regularly removing debris, you can improve airflow and reduce components of your ductwork from malfunctioning, which again, saves you money in the long run.

4. Clean air

It goes without saying that a clean ductwork system means clean air. After all, no one wants to work in a smelly environment. Clean air ducts mean you can get rid of the source of odour pumping out into your workplace, meaning clean and fresh air for people to work in.

5. Increased health and wellbeing

If dust particles aren’t regularly cleaned out, they can cause health issues or exacerbate existing ones in employees. This is not only unpleasant but can cause absenteeism and ultimately more costs for your business. Do yourself and your employees a favour, and keep your ducts clean!

6. A cleaner environment

If dirt isn’t cleaned out from ductwork regularly, then it’s not surprising if you find those particles atop other surfaces. Naturally, this will cause an unclean environment to work in, and could even contaminate sensitive equipment.

What happens if I don’t maintain ductwork?

Several things can happen as a result of not keeping your ducts clean. Here are some signs to look out for.

1. Decreased energy efficiency

Your HVAC system will have to pump out (and/or extract) more air because of the build-up of dirt and debris. This is because it’ll have to work harder to distribute conditioned air throughout the workplace, resulting in more energy usage and higher utility bills

2. Uneven distribution of conditioned air

If parts of your ductwork are dirtier than others, then you may find that cooled or heated air is only prevalent in some areas of your building over others. Usually, this is caused by the obstruction of built-up dirt which needs cleaning out. If however, you find this is still an issue, then it’s worth contacting your ducting solutions company for further assistance

3. Failing ductwork system

When airflow is restricted by dirty or clogged ducts, the HVAC system must compensate by operating for longer periods or at higher intensity – sometimes both. This extra stress can increase wear on system components such as blower motors, fans, and compressors. This shortens the life of the equipment and increases the chances of breakdowns and expensive repairs. 

4. Mould growth

Moisture in pipes, such as from leaks or condensation, can create a mould-prone environment. Mould spores can spread in ducts, affecting air quality and potentially causing health problems for workers such as allergies, respiratory illnesses and other side effects. 

5. Bad odours

Naturally, your HVAC system will pump out conditioned air that’s tainted with the dirt and mould residing in the ductwork, making the conditioned air completely redundant. Over time, this build up can cause a workplace to smell foul, which isn’t great for workers, visitors or employers.

How to improve ductwork airflow and air quality 

Fortunately, maintaining air quality in your ductwork is easier than you think. By improving your ductwork cleanliness, you can support LEV testing as part of your wider HVAC system too. Here are some steps to ensure quality airflow from your ducting in your workplace.

1. Schedule regular HVAC maintenance

It’s important to schedule regular maintenance with your HVAC provider to ensure your ductwork is as functional and clean as it should be. Plus, they won’t just clean out your ducting, but they’ll check your HVAC system is performing optimally through various tests, and identify other reasons why your HVAC system could be slowing down.

2. Change air filters

Ductwork will have a central filtering system that’ll need cleaning at regular intervals, which are detailed by your HVAC contractor. Even if your filter looks clean, it only takes a little time for those smaller particles to build up faster than you know – so get them cleaned out anyway just to be on the safe side.

3. Ensure proper ductwork installation

Functional and proper ductwork installation is paramount. Insulation of pipes prevents heat gain and loss, maintains a constant temperature, and minimises the risk of condensation. Insulate ducts in non-air-conditioned areas such as small or tight spaces, to improve energy efficiency and prevent moisture problems that can affect air quality.  

4. Install a new HVAC system

Out with the old and in with the new. Sometimes your existing ductwork system may be too expensive to maintain or isn’t fit for purpose. Plus, with ever-changing HSE requirements and EH40 exposure limits, your current system may not be compliant, so get scheduled in with an HVAC contractor to get started on a new duct system.

Need advice on cleaning your air ducts or want to discuss a new HVAC duct system in your workplace? Contact Airmatic and chat to one of our friendly customer service advisors for more information.

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