Tag: Dirty Insulation

Technical Corner: A Quantum Leap Forward in HVAC Hygiene (Part 4)

The Problem

At its roots, the problems are caused by in-attention. Owners o managers generally do not look at the AC interiors, and most generally when they do look, they do not know what to look for. Furthermore, when service work is let out for bid, most often hygeine and coil cleanliness is given little or no attention. Bidders will not add additional services to the bid unless specifically requested; if they do they will likely not obtain the bid.

When, and not if, coils develop microbial growth on them, the coils become insulated. After coil cleaning is completed, every day that passes thereafter causes biofilms to grow and multiply. As microbial growth intensifies, so too does their insulating effects. People who pay the bills see this as paying more money for energy each month.

It is well known that films of biological material, aka biofilms, have up to 5x more insulating qualities than scale. Furthermore, biofilms are often at or below the levels of human visibility making it difficult to see and schedule cleanings.

Air conditioner interiors represent an inter-disciplinary set of problems. The field of micro-biology, corrosion engineering, thermodynamics and general physics and chemistry all have influences of the operational costs and quality of air provided to occupants.

Whereas years ago stale or moldy smelling air could be addressed by merely opening up a window, today’s buildings do not offer this luxury. And years ago, saving money on HVAC operation was not perhaps as critical as it is today’s economy.

Addressing these issues then is of importance to saving energy, equipment sustainability and overall air quality.

Our next article in this series addresses cost-effective handling of these issues.

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at

Technical Corner: A Quantum Leap Forward in HVAC Hygiene (Part 3)

What It All Means

To say that occupants are universally at risk because of biologically laden and dirty air handlers is perhaps a stretch of the truth.

It is undeniable however that dirty units are not assisting occupant’s health. Those with lowered immune systems, for example young people and those older, are most likely to be affected.

Of course, most patients in hospitals wouldn’t be there in the first place if there immune systems were up to par, so dirty air handlers in these locations make it particularly harmful to this population grouping. Of all people affected then, hospital patients represent those least able to deal with the influence of poor air quality.

Maintenance workers are however much more likely to have problems with biologically laden air handlers.

I knew three such maintenance workers at a major resort area in Florida. Having worked with these men over a period of three years, they were hard workers and fairly observant. When I hadn’t seen them for several months, I inquired where they were. I found they were in the hospital for quite a while with staph infections picked up when they were working within one of the older and dirtier air handlers. Apparently they had gotten cuts on their hands and arms while inside the air handler.

When initially admitted, their doctor asked their employer to take a sample within the air handler and check to see what kind of bacteria he was dealing with in order to treat the infection. Tests by the employer indicated there were so many bacteria and fungal types present in the air handler it was impossible to determine what the specific source of infection could be.

To be continued……………………..

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at

Case in Point: The Nature of the Beast?

Many mold remediation companies use coatings to prevent future insulation contamination. However, due to their physical and chemical properties, coatings are difficult to maintain and apply. Sometimes coatings separate, and other times they clog the lines, resulting in both a loss of product and man hours. Most companies see this as “the nature of the beast,” but others are looking for something better.

One such company contacted me several years ago. Being a large remediation company in Colorado, they believed the separation was due to either low temperatures, or the vendor shipping old paint. Either way, it was discouraging to open a brand new bucket only to discover that the paint must be discarded.

The caller went on to explain how even when the product did not separate, there was still a loss due to the manufacturer using fillers, which clogged the lines. When clogs occurred, they had to flush out the lines, wasting some of the product, but moreover, wasting numerous man hours. Then they discovered our product, EPA-registered Bioflex.

At first they were concerned regarding the price of Bioflex, but quickly realized that the product and man hours saved more than made up for it. Bioflex opened their eyes to how a coating should work. What a relief for them, to be able to use every bucket on a pallet without having to flush the sprayer lines once!

While their company was already well thought of in the area, their switch to Bioflex set a higher standard in customer expectations. Additionally, the overall look of their finished jobs dramatically improved, as one coat of Bioflex provided better coverage than several coats of the “other stuff.”

At CRT, we are happy that our coatings provide better results in half the time. Bioflex is unaffected by freezing, and each batch is filtered to ensure sprayers will not get clogged.

Rachelle Tinley
is the assistant executive director of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc., a research, development and manufacturing firm based in Shelby, North Carolina. CRT is an EnergyStar Partner and manufacturer of independently-certified Green products for HVAC maintenance. Since 1986, CRT has been creating leading edge HVAC maintenance products that have become industry standards, used in thousands of commercial buildings world-wide. CRT employees are members of BOMA, ASHRAE, ASHE and the American Chemical Society. www.cleanac.com (800) 766-9057.


Technical Corner: The Value of Coating HVAC Insulation

Most air conditioning systems built over the last thirty years have air distribution pathways, or ducts, lined with fiberglass insulation. Unfortunately, insulation absorbs dirt and other matter, including microbial spores, greases and even oils. These particles penetrate the insulation, becoming entrapped and inaccessible for removal.

Due to particle entrapment, it is common for insulation to get dirty, and downright nasty in some cases. Even a slight bang on the duct work or unit sidewalls could send a cloud of dust and other matter into occupied areas. Listed below are a few of the problems commonly experienced:

1. Mold entering through the air stream is responsible for most objectionable odors encountered in systems. Entrapped mold spores eventually grow, due to the presence of humidity and nutrients within the insulation, causing undesirable consequences for building owners.

2. Organics, such as oil, can enter duct work if an air handler is located near a truck loading dock. The incoming air from around the dock usually contains diesel exhaust and other fumes. Some of these particulates, or fumes, may become lodged within the porous insulation, eventually becoming a source of odors.

3. Over the years fiberglass may lose its integrity. This results in small fiberglass particles being released into the air stream. In some cases, building owners can actually see black specs on desktops, which are later identified as being fiberglass particles.

Because of these problems HVAC contractors and NADCA duct cleaners often recommend cleaning and coating the duct work and insulation. As stated above, uncoated fiberglass insulation contains dirt and other matter that cannot be successfully cleaned. However, coated duct work is smooth and easily cleaned just by wiping the surface of the material. Additionally, sealing ducts with a coating eliminates the release of fiberglass emissions into the airstream.

Purchasing and recommending coatings can go a long way towards protecting your, or your customer’s investment, significantly reducing odors and emissions into occupied areas. For most building owners and contactors alike, it’s a win-win situation.

Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at http://www.cleanac.com and by calling (800) 766-9057.