Heating, ventilation or air conditioning is usually supplied in large commercial buildings via a duct system.
Duct systems are found in all types of building from offices and factories to hospitals, schools and residential and care homes for the elderly.
Depending on their age the materials used for their components can be anything from metal channels to fibreglass to plastics, sometimes covering duct tubes constructed of coiled wire.
The typical system will include the ducting, inspection hatches, junctions and duct branches, where the ducts are directed through all parts of the building as well as air blowers for moving the air through the system and smoke or fire dampers.
There are several good reasons for ensuring that a duct system is working well and in good repair.
Perhaps the most important is that the quality of air in the system needs to be maintained for the health of the building's occupants.
This can be particularly important in the case of the residential or care home, where the occupants are likely to be elderly, frail and less mobile than younger people. Good air quality and adequate heating are obviously going to be essential to people with a higher than normal vulnerability to infections.
The residents' families and loved ones will want to be assured that they are comfortable and receiving the best possible care in the best possible environment.
The managers, and owners, of such buildings plainly have a duty to ensure this and a ventilation or duct system that works at optimal efficiency is important to ensuring the enviroment they are living in is as healthy and germ-free as possible.
The efficiency of such systems is also important for controlling energy costs and preventing the risk of fire.
One care home organisation recently discovered that it could make significant efficiency savings by using a common approach to the regular cleaning of its extract systems. It therefore put in place a centrally negotiated contract across the entire estate with a specialist cleaning company, to improve both cost and quality control.
The chosen company worked to quality standards laid down by the HVCA (Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association) and had the technical expertise and specialised equipment to be able to handle duct systems that had been installed at different times from a variety of materials.
Its first task was to thoroughly inspect existing systems and identify any problem areas.
In one building it identified that rubber seals connecting ducts were perished and needed replacing. It also found that parts of the system were inaccessible and recommended the installation of additional inspection hatches.
Once work had been carried out to repair and improve the duct system the company arranged a regular programme of inspection and maintenance and an annual ductwork cleaning programme to ensure that the system remained both efficient and free of any build-up of residues that could affect the health and safety of the residents.
A regular programme of maintenance, inspection and ductwork cleaning will ensure the duct system is free of mould, dust mite and other build-up that can affect the air quality or increase the risk of fire.
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Article Added on Thursday, September 23, 2010
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