iaq- duct cleaning

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  • 8/7/2019 IAQ- Duct Cleaning

    1/312 EcoLibrium December 2004

    Cleaning and decontaminating commercial and industrial HVAC systems is a seriousbusiness, with many associated risks and hazards. As Sean McGowan discovered,

    its an area largely unregulated in Australia and one which requires high levels of training.

    maintaining IAQa serious business

    feature IAQ

    Jeremy Stamkos

  • 8/7/2019 IAQ- Duct Cleaning


    If the idea of abseiling down a 150 metre cliff isnt

    frightening enough, imagine abseiling down a

    commercial buildings HVAC duct with a breathing

    apparatus while cleaning the hazardous contamination

    that has accumulated over the years.

    Thats the task facing the staff of companies like Enviro

    Air Pty Ltd, which provide specialist air system cleaningsolutions for commercial and industrial environments.

    According to Enviro Airs managing director, Jeremy

    Stamkos, the lack of Australian regulations has led to the

    company acquiring NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners

    Association U.S.A.) accreditation, and seeking a host of

    other training options for its staff to ensure it satisfies the

    NADCA requirements.

    Along with NADCA accreditation, our international

    training covers areas such as property mould

    remediation, biohazardous recovery, certified air systems

    cleaning, ventilation systems mould remediation,

    certified ventilation inspection and attendance at regionalworkshops, explains Stamkos.

    Due to the difficulties encountered when accessing

    HVAC systems, our teams must also be qualified in

    general and mechanical plumbing, as well as asbestos

    awareness and friable and non-friable asbestos removal.

    Along with training specific to mould and other potentiallyhazardous contaminants, remediation technicians must

    also have undertaken training in twin-rope industrial

    access, safe working at heights and within confined

    spaces, as well as the use of specialised personal

    protection equipment (PPE) such as breathing apparatus.

    If necessary, it can be quite a complicated and time

    consuming activity to send technicians into ductwork,

    says Stamkos.

    Along with all their cleaning equipment when cleaning

    vertical riser shafts, they must wear respiratory

    protection; as well as carry ascension devices because

    they not only have to go down 26 storeys, but they haveto climb all the way back up. Theres a lot of specialised

    equipment involved to be able to go down safely and

    come back up again.

    Due to the obviously high OH&S risks associated with

    sending cleaning technicians into HVAC ducts, the

    company utilises cleaning robots wherever possible.

    These robots (as pictured) are sent into ducts with a

    range of tools to dislodge microbial growth and other

    contaminants. As contaminants are dislodged, theyare extracted out of the system using HEPA equipped

    negative air units.

    It can be quite a complicated and time

    consuming activity to send technicians

    into ductwork

    The remote robots work effectively up to

    about 50 metres at a time

    nset and next page some of the equipement used in HVAC system cleaning

  • 8/7/2019 IAQ- Duct Cleaning


    The remote robots generally only

    work effectively up to about 50 metres

    at a time. You then need to find or

    create another access point to resume

    cleaning, says Stamkos.

    Unfortunately access pointsare not installed for cleaning

    unless specified, so in many

    instances, we have to install

    them ourselves or use

    existing access provisions

    such as inspection

    openings. We keep them to

    a minimum to maintain the

    integrity of the system, so

    the further you can go with

    your cleaning equipment,

    the more efficient you are

    going to be.

    Robots are able to clean

    the ductwork effectively by

    using a series of brushes

    and whips powered by

    compressed air and other

    gases, while a small camera mounted on

    top of the robot allows the controller to

    guide it through the ducts and verify the

    effectiveness of

    the cleaning process.

    We try and do the majority of our work

    with remote cleaning due to the OH&Sissues, but where we are required to

    clean a shaft in a multi-storey building,

    robots become obsolete and sending a

    technician down is required to get the

    job done.

    Not only are there risks in what teams

    find within ducts, but there are also

    risks in the processes of cleaning,

    especially when considering the use of

    antimicrobials and other chemicals.

    Such is the experience of Enviro Air

    and their use of personal protection

    equipment and engineering controls

    (to contain airborne contaminants,

    dust and fumes), that the company is

    now providing other areas of hazardous

    material removal, such as microbial and

    asbestos removal.

    Stamkos says that until the industry

    is regulated in Australia, however,

    some service providers will continue to

    only clean what building owners and

    operators can see, leaving the moredifficult to access areas to continue

    to build up with mould and other


    The only regulations and standards

    existing refer to the installation or

    servicing of mechanical ventilation

    systems, hence the need for our

    technicians to be trained in mechanical

    plumbing. As far as how clean a HVAC

    system should be, how you clean it and

    how you control it there is nothing

    existing in Australia, says Stamkos.

    In the US, you must validate your

    cleaning process by three different

    methods by visual assessment; surface

    comparison testing; or byhaving a swab analysed


    Their standard also

    regulates the use of anti-

    microbial products. Here,

    there is no regulation as

    to what can be used to

    disinfect HVAC systems.

    As such, we only use

    products that have been

    authorized by the US EPA

    (Environment Protection

    Agency) or by the

    Therapeutic Goods Authority

    here in Australia and

    designed for use in HVAC


    Stamkos believes the

    Australian industry should adopt the

    American model and the American

    Standard ACR-2005, which is called

    up as regulation by ASHRAE and other

    US state authorities. He says it is an

    extremely comprehensive guideline that

    only needs minor alterations for the localindustry.

    Aside from cutting holes in ductwork,

    working at heights and so on, its the

    associated endemic health and safety

    risks to building occupants, and also the

    involved contractors, that should be the

    biggest catalyst for Australian regulations

    to get up and running relatively quickly.

    14 EcoLibrium December 2004/January 2005

    feature IAQ