Tag: HVAC cleaning companies

Last Defense for IAQ – Clean Condensate Pans

By Tony Febbraro, Indoor Environmental Quality Consultant (Contributing Author to CRT)

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is directly affected by the building’s mechanical air conveyance system. The degrees of cleanliness of outdoor (fresh) air and recirculated (return) air will determine the amount of airborne and settled dust that enters the occupied space. The air conveyance system can be divided into two basic components: the Air handler unit (AHU) and the duct system. This article will address mechanical hygiene of the air handler unit and proper maintenance.

The primary components of the air handler unit are: filters, conditioning coils, condensate tray, blower assembly and internal insulation. Any of these will promote microbial growth and/or dust distribution.

The amount of moisture in the AHU will determine the environment conditions that promote mold and bacteria growth. These microbes may either be brought into the air conditioning system or will grow on unclean and damp or wetted surfaces in the air handler unit.

Dust contains a variety of materials. Outside source dust will contain mold, bacteria, pollen, silica (sand), biodetritus. Proper air handler hygiene maintenance is important for minimizing these pollutants.

The condensate tray provides the primary reservoir for microbial growth. Water collected here comes from condensed water off the cooling coils. This water has been wrung out of the air and collects any fine dust from the cooling coil fins. Over a short period of time, an untreated tray will accumulate enough fine ‘dust’ to cause two results: clumping of debris and microbial growth.

Clumping debris can a) clog the condensate tray and b) provide a food source for microbial growth. Even with very efficient filters, dusty will find their way into the air handler unit. Degraded internal insulation (fibrous glass or rubber) will release debris. In draw-thru systems, leaking or improperly sealed access doors will also allow unfiltered air into the blower chamber.

Clogged condensate trays will cause more moisture to accumulate on other surfaces including internal insulation and blower fan blades. This moisture will further collect ‘dust’ and promote microbial growth (amplification).

So it becomes apparent that a key component of the air handler unit is the condensate tray. It is the last defense of the AHU in providing acceptable indoor air quality.

Given the above, what do we look for in condensate tray hygiene?

  • Clumping or accumulation of dust/debris
  • Clogged condensate drain plug lines
  • Visible microbial growth

As air circulates through the AHU continuously, it is not likely that scheduled annual or semi-annual cleaning is sufficient to keep conditions acceptable. Treatment of the AHU needs to be on a continuous basis.

In our inspections across the country, it is easy to see the effects of poor hygienic maintenance. The common culprit is the condensate tray, often negating all the other ‘good’ conditions observed. Similarly, it is very easy to see the effects of a properly maintained system. Treated condensate trays have little to no accumulation of debris, microbial staining, corrosion or discoloration. These systems provide the best available indoor air quality.

Treatment limitations

Treatment systems come in many varieties. Some systems will focus on debris accumulation and are dispersants, usually some detergent. Others will focus on biocide abilities, ignoring the ability of molds and bacteria to ‘hide’ inside accumulated debris. Also note that what may kill bacteria can provide ineffective for molds. Some systems may work, but only for short periods of time as they are ‘spent’ with the first significant water condensation. In this case, you would prefer a slow time-release product to limit the amount of manual servicing or replacement.

Harmful to other components

Few people realize that certain chlorine-based treatment products, while effective against many microbes, may have adverse effects on rubber components including belts, seals and even rubber roof systems. Some products may have an extreme pH that can also affect (corrode) the metal tray.

Aesthetics

Certain products will have distinctive ‘colors’. It is not unusual for certain table products to leave significant yellow stains both in the tray and all along the roof.

Optimum treatment

Proper hygienic maintenance of the condensate tray therefore requires that all conditions be addressed: clumping, biocide, pH, long lasting and aesthetics. While you may be able to purchase multiple products, the preferred products will have most or all of these features.

The main product observed in well maintained systems is Algae Guard by Controlled Release Technologies. After years of building inspections, this product has demonstrated itself as the most effective in addressing the four categories we described.

The product is used in main air handler units on both rooftops and mechanical rooms. The Algae Guard slow-release system contains detergents for dispersing debris, near-neutral pH to limit corrosion, and an EPS registered biocide that addresses both mold and bacteria and is non-odorous or staining.

Facility Environment Partners recommends this type of product often to maintain good AHU hygiene as well as bring less hygienic units up to acceptable levels.

See you next time on HVAC Preventive Solutions.

Tony Febbraro has been doing building studies since 1987 across the eastern United States. He is a Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional and president of Facility Environmental Partners, LLC, a consulting firm based in Florida.

Product Spotlight: Eliminate HVAC Odors and Improve Indoor Air Quality

Practically all items inside of buildings contribute to indoor air quality. Everything from carpeting to office equipment release gases and particles known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, the most referenced cause of indoor air quality concerns by tenant and workforce populations is the HVAC system.

These concerns are a result of the strength and frequency of undesirable odors being disseminated by HVAC systems. Contaminated outside air, bacteria and mold are thought to contribute to many health issues. Unfortunately this is quite common, as the interior of HVAC systems provide the perfect growth environment for spores to become active. Along with providing a dark, temperature-controlled area, HVAC systems remove moisture from the atmosphere providing mold spores with water, and remove dirt and debris providing mold spores with food.

At CRT, we developed the following solution to help buildings maintain positive indoor air quality, and avoid odor problems originating in the HVAC system. By using these products, air handler units can remain clean and disinfected. Additionally, the time between cleanings and the life of the unit itself can be increased, and the chance of poor indoor air quality can be dramatically decreased.

CleanAC Kit
The CleanAC Kit is an annual, four-step application process that rids HVAC air handler units of buildup and accumulation by cleaning, sanitizing and protecting both the evaporator coil and condensate pan. It is generally applied in the spring or summer months when condensate pans accumulate moisture, and in systems requiring a thorough cleaning.

The first step is to apply Instant Powder Kegs coil cleaner to clean the evaporator coil of deposit buildup. Instant Powder Kegs is a concentrated cleaning powder, that is mixed with water at the job site, saving users expensive and unnecessary shipping charges. Instant Powder Kegs removes dirt and odor-producing build up that hinder the efficiency of HVAC systems.

The second step is to apply Fast Attack to sanitize the coil, and remove any odor-causing algae, fungus, bacteria or mold. Fast Attack is an EPA-registered, concentrated antimicrobial that cleans as it sanitizes. Iodine was chosen as the active ingredient, as its effectiveness is well known and widely used in hospitals and laboratories.

The third step is to apply First Strike Micro Coat to the coil surface to protect against future buildup of dirt and contamination. First Strike Micro Coat provides a clear molecular barrier (less than one micron), that does not inhibit heat transferability. Because First Strike Micro Coat has been extensively evaluated, it performs without maintenance attention for a year or more. This decreases redundant labor costs and coil cleanings, and keeps coils performing at optimal energy usage.

The fourth step is to place a PanGuard timed-release strip in the HVAC condensate drip pan. PanGuard is a blending of wetting agents and dispersants that eliminates clogs and overflows due to deposit accumulation. By protecting the unit using a timed-release product, it will continue to work even after staff have completed maintenance, for up to six months. This in turn, protects against costly water damages that can occur.

The CleanAC Kit is available in three different sizes for both residential and industrial needs. These sizes are 3-5 tons, 10-15 tons and 20-25 tons. By using this kit annually, one can be assured that HVAC air handlers remains clean and protected year round.

If you have an experience you would like to share, or want to talk more about this blog, please leave your comments below.

Jonathan Dunagin, Marketing Director 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.

Controlled Release Technologies Launches New Website

Our goal at CRT is to continually provide education-based service and innovative solutions to problems encountered in the HVAC industry. The perfect example of this is our recently launched website.

Found at http://www.cleanac.com, our website allows visitors to quickly and conviently learn the cause behind problems they have encountered.

The vision of our president was to create a user-friendly website that could be easily understood by contractors, engineers, and managers. The goal is to push the problem buttons encountered throughout the industry, and used current, proven industry data to inform visitors that solutions do exist.”

To make this design a reality, we hired Don Grothoff, a seasoned web marketing consultant. With 15 years experience in web design, and 14 years in sales and marketing, Grothoff has built and marketed hundreds of websites for small to medium sized businesses across the U.S..

In addition to http://www.cleanac.com, we launched a blog site at http://www.crttipster.com, created a YouTube channel with problem podcasts and product application videos, and developed both Facebook and Linked In business profiles. All this was done to provide visitors with quality information and instant search results.

It is important that our company remain a living, breathing entity on the internet. Not only do we need to remain aprised of current news and trends, but now through social media, we can to reach out more to current and potential customers.

Jonathan Dunagin, is the Marketing 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.