The movement of air for heating, ventilation and air conditioning

What is Ductwork?

Ductwork is a network of round or rectangular pipes that transports and distributes air to various rooms within the home or workplace. The air is used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

A fully functioning ductwork system should provide thermal comfort, healthy indoor air quality, good ventilation and maintain consistent pressures relationships between conditioned spaces. Aside from the ducts themselves, the network is made up of numerous components including vibration isolators, take-offs, smoke and fire dampers, turning vanes, plenums, terminal units and air terminals.

Usually found in homes or in workplaces such as kitchens, offices, hospitals or factories, ductwork has two main air-transfer systems: supply and return. The ductwork components work together to suck air from a room into the heater or air conditioner, where it is heated or cooled and then pushed back through ducts into the living space.

It is essential that the system – which is made up of either sheet metal, fiberglass or flexible plastic and wire composite – is maintained to a high standard to ensure that the airflow is moved in a hygienic, efficient and effective manner. In sensitive environments such as hospitals, the effects of an unhealthy ductwork can be deadly. An example would be the spread of serious infections such as MRSA through the HVAC, which could threaten the lives of patient

Blocked filtration and material build up can seriously hamper ductwork efficiency.

What issues can affect Ductwork?

Is the air quality inside your home worse than the air outside? This is most likely a result of a ductwork issue. A ductwork system can lose from 25% to 40% of its heating or cooling energy due to not being regularly cleaned. Other factors that can affect the efficiency of the system include:

  • Leaks: Malfunctions such as leaks make the ductwork system work harder, therefore increasing your utility bill. Duct leakage can also lessen comfort and compromise health and safety. Properly sealing ductwork is essential for an effective and efficient HVAC system.
  • Material buildup: Over time, the ducts accumulate dust and debris which can then become a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. This is made worse by raised temperatures and humidity. Air passing through the ductwork can then carry allergens and pathogens into the building. Without adequate and regular cleaning, the ventilation system designed to provide building occupants with clean, fresh air, could be doing the exact opposite – with potentially serious consequences.
  • Blocked filtration: Blocked filtration can cause airflow problems and imbalances throughout your home or workplace. To protect your indoor air quality, be certain to have ductwork inspected for possible contamination and cleaned when necessary.
  • Cross contamination: A buildup of materials in the ductwork increase the energy required to move materials. This can lead to cross contamination of batches and loss of valuable materials. Acoustic cleaners can be installed to ensure that buildup and blockage is removed online and shutdowns for cleaning can become a thing of the past.
  • Temperature rise: This factor is an important operating parameter for heating equipment. It provides a measure of the sensible heat gain to the air flowing over the heat exchanger and allows specifying technicians to match heating equipment to the comfort level desired in the conditioned space. Checking the temperature rise and static pressure on a furnace is an important test after Duct Sealing
Ductwork is regularly utilised in the petrochemical industry.

What effects can Ductwork issues have on a site?

Unhealthy ventilation can lead to increased sickness and absence in the work force and can lower productivity. Other factors than can arise from an improperly functioning ductwork system include:

  • More conditioned air leakage
  • Less energy efficiency – meaning higher heating bills
  • Shorter equipment service life
  • Less comfort for occupants
  • Inadequate air flow

Over previous years, Acoustic Cleaners have become an increasing popular way of eliminating unwanted buildup and have proven invaluable in their effectiveness.

How do Primasonics Acoustic Cleaners help prevent Ductwork issues?

When Primasonics Acoustic Cleaners are employed, a series of high energy-low frequency sound waves are created within the ductwork system. The sound waves create fluctuations in the pressure within the pipes, which causes any static particles that are blocking the airflow to oscillate and move out of the way. The result is that the airflow can travel easier.

It is a non intrusive technology, meaning that no damage is done to your equipment, and provides a long term solution to blockages and buildup issues. Some further benefits of using Primasonics Acoustic Cleaners are:

  • Health and safety – Using a modern, remote cleaning system means that we avoid any dangerous repercussions that other methods, such as manual cleaning, can pose. Our modern and cutting-edge equipment means that our services are efficient and safe.
  • Environmental – Ventilation system blockages, buildup of dirt and airborne particles cause your ventilation systems to function at a reduced capacity. In turn, this causes the system to use more energy – effectively burning more of your money. Primasonics Acoustic Cleaners is a far more cost-effective way to keep your ventilation system clean and running efficiently.
  • Reach – The relatively non-directional nature of sound waves minimizes ash and particulate accumulation in “blind spots”, where mechanical cleaning devices such as soot blowers and rapping systems cannot always reach.

How often should ductwork systems be cleaned?

It’s a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment and that includes managing ventilation systems and adhering to industry standards. The default requirement for cleaning a ductwork system is two years. However, some industries or buildings may need more frequent maintenance, for instance:

  • Heavily used buildings
  • Buildings which generate greater quantities of dust (e.g. factories, clothing stores).
  • Buildings which are exposed to greater quantities of outside pollution (e.g. in city centres, next to motorways or next to industrial sites).
  • Buildings which need cleaner than average air or where risk to occupants is higher (e.g. computer data centres, hospitals, nursing homes).