Duct Cleaning Specs

5 questions to ask in the duct cleaning specs before awarding a contract.

Lowest price versus best value age old conundrum in facilities purchasing. This is especially true and complicated with professional services. Going with the cheapest solution often realizes short term savings. However, it can cost exponentially more in the long run when the service is poorly executed. Duct cleaning is a great example in facility maintenance.

Dirty ductwork is a fact of life for a facility manager. Even though duct cleaning should be part of routine maintenance, in many cases it’s set aside due to more pressing needs. Eventually dust and debris build up to the point where Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and/or system performance is affected. Then duct cleaning specs are written and a lengthy bid process begins. But does the facility manager or purchaser really understand the value of partnering with an experienced firm and what outcome to expect?

A Cautionary Tale

Consider this. A large Florida university needed duct cleaning in a campus building. Facilities procurement solicited bids using a vague duct cleaning spec. Many firms responded. As you would expect the respondent proposals offered a wide array of variation. The university went with the lowest price. After the duct cleaning project was completed HVAC performance issues began. What was undertaken to improve the HVAC system quickly escalated into a problem. But why? When called to task the lowest bidder said they performed their service to the duct cleaning spec on the RFP. That’s when the university decided to call best value bidder Pure Air Control Services, Inc.

Pure Air Control Services approached the request like an IAQ investigation with a mechanical focus. Our team requested blueprints for the ductwork and conducted a visual site inspection. The answer became clear. The lowest bidder just cleaned the ductwork up to the multiple Variable Air Volume (VAV) terminal boxes in the system. Furthermore, the lowest bidder only vacuumed the ductwork without masking the VAV boxes. Much of the debris was dislodged and missed or just pushed around. As the HVAC system was brought back online this debris immediately clogged the VAV boxes restricting airflow and increasing humidity in the building. When the lowest bidder was asked to make right they said, “they don’t clean VAV boxes”.

Duct cleaning specs VAV before and after 01

It Cost Almost Double

Pure Air Control Services recleaned the ductwork utilizing full containment protocols under negative pressure following their own duct cleaning specs. They used a combination of pressurized air and HEPA vacuums to completely remove debris from the ducts. Then, they cut and installed access panels for each VAV box, meticulously cleaned the VAVs and finally tested the entire system for leaks. The university ended up paying nearly double the cost of what they would have if they went with Pure Air Control Services from the start.

5 Key Questions to Ask in Duct Cleaning Specs

  1. Is your firm NADCA certified?
  2. Will your firm perform a site visit/inspection prior to cleaning, especially in lieu of blueprints?
  3. Does your firm utilize containment protocols, negative pressurization, HEPA filtration, and other recommended tools and techniques?
  4. Can your firm cut and seal access to the ductwork as required or can access panels be installed to make future maintenance easier?
  5. Does your firm provide leak detection testing upon completion and/or can you provide continuous monitoring for particle counts?

Duct cleaning specs VAV before and after 02


Another important factor in the duct cleaning specs should be the inclusion of a comprehensive report at the conclusion of the job. Pure Air Control Services provides a detailed report including all monitoring data, findings, and a photo log with before and after pictures.

Duct cleaning specs are extremely important when writing a bid. The more thorough the better. It not only makes the playing field level, but also ensures an optimal, accountable, outcome.

For more information on Pure Air Control Services PURE-Duct program or for help writing your duct cleaning specs please call 1-800-422-7873 or use our contact page.