Brushes or Air-whips? Both actually.

Posted May 06th 2013 by: Matt Mountain

Air duct cleaning has become a large industry. As with any large, nation-wide industry there are many supply companies and many different types of cleaning systems that have been developed. In their many forms most cleaning systems boil down to one of two types: rotary brushes and air-powered whips. Each type of system has many advantages and can be very effective in cleaning as long as its applied properly and the right amount of time is spent doing the work. However, each system also has its limitations.

The rotary brush systems are made up of a round brush at the end of a long cable which is powered by a motor of some sort (commonly a hand-held drill). These brushes come in various sizes to match the duct you are cleaning. Brushing works great on the round pipes leading from the trunk line to your supply vent but what happens when you get to the main ductwork? Ever heard the saying "You can't put a square peg in a round hole."? A round brush isn's always going to get into the corners of a rectangular duct all that well. ?Another main issue with the brush system is?entanglement. Often the branch lines of your cold-air return vents simply use the spaces between the floorboards and are finished by a single piece of metal on the bottom to enclose the space. ?It is very common for wires of all kinds to run directly through these spaces, as well as cross-bracing for the joists. ?Careless use of brush cleaning systems can cause them to get caught and wrapped around these wires, not only causing a big pain for the technician but possibly also damaging the wiring.

Air whip systems are a newer technology and have made duct cleaning faster and less invasive. The system is composed of a metal air nozzle which has a piece (or many) of rubber tubing on the end of it. The air blows through the nozzle and tubing making the rubber flail around knocking dust off all sides of the ducts. Remember what happens in the cartoons when they turn on a big fire hose? That's basically what the whip system looks like with the air on. Whip systems work great in the cold-air returns and the main trunk lines downstairs. The limitation is in the round ducts. There is not enough room for the tubing to move very much and it isn't able to provide enough agitation to properly loosen the debris. Many companies will simply run a standard air nozzle down these round ducts and not introduce an agitation device of any kind.

Since each cleaning system works best on a different part of the ductwork, its best to have both systems available when working through a cleaning project. This not only ensures the job is done to the highest possible quality, but also prevents any possible damage to the duct or other parts of the home. Mountain Duct Cleaning carries both of these systems and uses them both in nearly every home (in rare cases accessibility limits the use of one system or another). Combined with our NADCA training and certification, using multiple systems provides a highly comprehensive cleaning process. We carry high quality systems that we purchase locally to ensure we have access to the proper training on how to use the equipment. We will determine where to use each system before and during the cleaning process and switch back and forth as necessary to ensure that we are cleaning the system to the greatest of our abilities. This takes longer, and it requires quite a bit more effort, but it's the most comprehensive way to clean.