An air handling systems insulation materials are designed to provide thermal efficiency, but they can help or hinder indoor air quality and cost savings. Poor indoor breathing conditions can be caused not only by mold, dust, or dirt, but also by VOCs and particulating fibers. To ensure an HVAC system’s insulation preserves indoor air quality, it is important to properly install, clean and maintain the system and its ArmaFlex elastomeric closed-cell foam duct liner. Armacell’s Application Manager, Mark Hayes, recommends the following three tips when cleaning air duct liners.

1.    Prevention is Paramount

An annual inspection must be completed on duct liner to check for dirt, debris, dust, contaminants, obstructions, moisture or mold. During this inspection a visual check for damage or worn away insulation should also be completed. This type of damage can be caused due to a poor initial installation, especially on butt joint seals. If these installation gaps do exist and are not corrected up front, air can get caught in a gap and flip up edges, causing loose, hanging insulation or flaked off, worn away insulation materials, all which can flow into the airstream.

2.    Schedule a Shut Down

Cleaning an air handling duct system takes not only time and effort, but a commitment to shutting off HVAC air circulation in a building. Scheduling sufficient time to inspect and clean insulation duct liner is imperative to proper maintenance and clean indoor air for occupants. Mechanical systems should be shut off prior to cleaning and be cold to avoid any injuries, damage and further contamination of air. The most time consuming part of inspecting and cleaning air duct liners is gaining access to the interior of an air duct, so certified HVAC professionals, building owners or maintenance managers should take into account duct size and difficulty of access.

3.    The Right Tools For The Task

Armacell’s closed-cell elastomeric foam insulation products are fiber-free, non-particulating, and have low VOCs. In addition, the smooth surface is easily cleanable so the possibility of mold can be eliminated by cleaning surface dirt. To clean duct liners with dust or film particulates, wipe clean with a dry, gentle cloth. For stubborn dirt or harder to remove contaminates, a non-abrasive brush or cleaning wheel is a tool of choice. A clean cloth with a small amount of denatured alcohol can also be used to wipe or lightly scrub the surface.  Water or chemicals should not be used as these could deteriorate the surface and cause damage.

When a HVAC system is clean it will operate at a much higher energy efficiency level, producing better temperature control. By not cleaning ducts, the system must work harder and a build-up of contaminating air pollutants can also occur on surfaces causing poor air quality, allergies, and asthma triggers. By completing an annual inspection and duct liner cleaning, you can help reduce energy loss, mitigate potential maintenance issues, extend a system’s life and capture cost savings.