As a Professional Duct Cleaning contractor we are continuously asked whether we use a portable vacuum or a truck mounted vacuum, while 90% of the time the customer really has no idea why they are even asking this question, except for the fact that they were told that either a portable vacuum is better or that a truck mounted vacuum is better.
Of course any Air Duct Cleaning company that you talk to will inevitably tell you that their vacuum is better than the other guys…They are after all trying to get your business.
The BIGGEST FALLACY regarding the cleaning of air ducts is that a truck mounted vacuum will clean better than a portable Vacuum, There is simply NO TRUTH to that statement.
Let me put this into perspective...Think of the fan in your furnace - it's small but moves the air and dust around quite easily, does it not?
Doesn't it make sense that if your furnace fan can expel the dust from your vents, then a vacuum of equal or greater power will be able to extract that same dust!
Portable vacuums generally produce at least 5 times the power that your furnace fan produces, therefore they are very capable of extracting the dust from your air duct system.
Duct Cleaning companies that use truck mounted vacuums will tell you that their vacuum produces more suction than a portable, what they fail to tell you is, after they run 100 feet of hose from their truck to your furnace, they will lose up to 75% of that suction and will be left with an amount of suction that is equivalent to a portable.
Portable Air Duct Cleaning vacuums (and I don't mean "shop vacs") are a very large, powerful HEPA-FILTERED System that can be taken apart then brought down stairs into your furnace room where they will be set up in front of your furnace, therefore not losing any of their suction due to lengthy hoses.
All portable Air Duct Cleaning vacuums are equipped with HEPA FILTERS which means the air that is exhausted back into your home is considered to be Medical-Pharmaceutical grade Clean Air. This is something that truck mount owners will fail to tell you, in fact they will probably tell you that a "portable vacuum will exhaust the dusty air back into your home" That statement COULD NOT be further from the truth!!!
Another advantage to having the air exhausted back into your home is when you are having your Ducts cleaned during cold weather, the exhausted air is your warm household air, therefore the home will not cool down so quickly.
When your Air Ducts are being cleaned with the use of a truck mounted vacuum, the WARM indoor air is being expelled from the home, and COLD outdoor air is being brought back into the home as what is known as MAKE UP AIR, this Cold MAKE UP AIR will make the temperature in your home drop very rapidly, making it very uncomfortable for the occupants.
The truth is that any vacuum that produces at least 2000cfm (two thousand cubic feet per minute) of air flow will be enough to extract the dust from your duct system provided that the duct cleaning contractor uses standard tools and procedures set forth by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.
I can appreciate that from a customer’s point of view it would seem that the vacuum would be the most important piece of equipment in an Air Duct Cleaners arsenal, however, the vacuum really is last on the list.
The importance in equipment is as follows: First would be the Technician and the skills he or she processes, Secondly would be the Air Compressor that is used (this is where bigger is better) Third would be the host of agitation tools used to dislodge the debris and move it toward the vacuum and Last is the vacuum itself.
So next time a Duct Cleaning company tries to sell you their service strictly on the type of the vacuum they use, I suggest you think twice before hiring them.
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Pat Johnson is President of Enviro-Pure Air Care Duct Cleaning in Ottawa Ontario, Canada
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