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The incredible advantage of HVAC robotic duct inspection

Florida’s HVAC duct systems are falling apart. Think outside the box with the spirit of innovation.

Steve Nagy, Green Works AC LLC Stuart, FL. Photo courtesy of Steve Nagy
Steve Nagy, Green Works AC LLC Stuart, FL. Photo courtesy of Steve Nagy

This article is Sponsored Content by Steve Nagy, Green Works AC LLC Stuart, FL

As years pass by, duct systems get older. After 15-20 years (average interval) we begin to see signs of deterioration. This phenomenon can cause major air quality issues if not repaired.

Issues associated with deteriorating flexible duct and hard duct systems: 

Hard Duct Systems 

Hard duct system made out of duct boards. Photo courtesy of Green Works AC

Hard duct systems are built out of duct boards commonly used during the 1970s-1980s.

These boards are made out of compressed fiberglass and folded into square sections. The sections are butted together during the installation process.

Recently, the new building codes require HVAC contractors to use 1.5” duct board sheets that have a much higher R value than the 1” version.  Unfortunately back during the 1970s and 1980s the common practice was using 1” boards. Hard duct itself is porous on the inside. As a result dust can easily deposit on the surface. This causes an odour to radiate through the house due to its fibrous nature. As the dust particles are mixing with moisture, cleaning duct systems built out of duct boards can be extremely difficult. A technician needs to be very careful and gentle during the cleaning process otherwise it can cause damage and tear up fiberglass chunks. I personally can not recommend using compressed air for cleaning instead of a soft brush.  

Flexible duct systems

Round flexible duct system. Photo courtesy of Green Works AC

Flexible ducts are much easier and quicker to install than hard ducts. The vast majority of residential homes’ duct systems in the southern states are made out of flexible ducts. They come in different sizes, fit into tighter corners, and are more cost effective. The flexible ducts are easier to clean and maintain. They are composed of three parts: the inner jacket, insulation in the middle and the outer jacket that hold the insulation in place. The inner jacket is where the indoor air flows. It’s made out of reinforced plastic foil that tends to be a  more antisocial material as opposed to duct boards. Due to aging and/or improper installation, it can accumulate moisture but it will not absorb water.

Flexible ducts are commonly known to be healthier than the hard duct system and have many more advantages. Either way both types of ductwork can emit smell, can get dusty, and lose insulation value. Now, one might ask the question: why do duct systems get dusty, dirty when I religiously change my filter in my AC or Heat Pump?

The answer is simple and in my opinion when explained correctly, people will understand the concept of how it happens.  

Whether it’s a flexible duct or hard duct system it is destined to get dirty over time  regardless.  

 When the system is running and the indoor fan is moving cold or heated air, positive pressure builds up in the rooms. Unfortunately, as soon as the fan turns off the air pressure in the home will equalize and some air with all the particles present  will move back into the duct system through the vents and grills.

Those particles settle over time and the duct system gets dirtier and dirtier.

If the HVAC duct system was built using flexible duct or hard duct (very common in southern states) and is located in the attic, the temperature difference between the inside and the outside can exceed 100F. Over time,  insulation of the air ducts breaks down resulting in sweat and condensation as greater amounts of moisture  accumulates. Remember! When the HVAC system is in cooling mode, especially in States with subtropical climate conditions, the ducts are dark and cold inside and if moisture and dust is present that’s the perfect environment for breeding mold.  

When this occurs, over time there will be a high possibility of emission of musty odor. In this case the homeowner can significantly benefit from duct inspection or robotic duct inspection.

Reiterating again, the loss of insulation in the case of a flexible duct system can also cause the coils to rust due to moisture buildup. Those steel coils provide the integrity of the flexible duct. The structural integrity of the system then becomes compromised leading to a possible coil rupture.  At that time the airflow can become completely blocked. Subsequently collapsing of the duct can be so severe that the A/C system can freeze and become inoperable. I’ve also seen cases where coil rupture caused significant airflow problems blocking the air supply to certain rooms in the home. This is when Robotic Duct Inspection and Air Duct Inspection can help pinpoint the problem.

Artist impression of the duct robot. Image courtesy of Gina Carra

As previously mentioned, duct systems are getting older and giving homeowners more headaches than necessary. In the state of Florida there is a shortage of HVAC technicians and installers resulting in price increases relating to duct replacement. It is very difficult for installers to cope with hot attic environments that can reach up to 150F.

Over time we’ve seen an increase in duct system related service calls. Customers in Florida have called on our company to inquire whether we offer Air Duct Camera Inspection. We have been getting an increase in customer  calls. To best cope with the demand, we tried quite a few things with moderate success. The real breakthrough didn’t happen until we developed the Duct Robot.

The Robot crawls through the duct system to inspect the air ducts, thus enabling us to see things that normally can’t be seen. We then provide our customers with the most accurate diagnostics when it comes to HVAC Duct Inspection.

The robot downloads zero latency live video feed that enables us to comfortably navigate around.  We are then able to perform the best AC duct system inspection. 

With the successful development of these robots there is no more guessing. We can pinpoint the exact problem and offer our clients immediate solutions at lower costs

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