Commercial Air Handlers
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by Wayne Tracy, Operations Manager
When looking at commercial projects you will find many different styles of air handlers. They’ll be located on rooftops, in ceilings, closets, basements, virtually anywhere.
Regardless of where they are, you have to get access to them and clean any accessible areas in them. These areas include the evaporator coil, blower, and all other accessible surfaces.
As I’ve discussed in earlier articles, a full service duct cleaning project includes cleaning of all system components from the point air enters the system (return ducting) to the point air exits a system (supply system). To do less work would be a disservice to your customer. Debris left behind in un-cleaned components and areas of a system will soon migrate to areas you may have cleaned thoroughly.
While some commercial air handlers can be very large and complex, for the most part they all have the same components, just larger in size. Don’t be intimidated by the size of the air handler – just approach it the same way you would a smaller unit – it will just take more time. After all, the more hours a project takes, the more profitable it will be.
Another common setup you find in commercial properties is multiple air handlers. We’ve been involved in projects with 70 or more air handlers on one roof top. Again, it’s not a challenge, just more billable hours and profit potential. If you think about it, what’s easier, driving to 60 or 70 houses or cleaning 70 systems all under one roof.
Cleaning evaporator coils on commercial air handlers can be as easy as a residential project if a building has multiple air handlers. Larger walk-in style units will have large banks of coils – substantially larger and thicker than a simple package unit and will require some special handling. However, it will usually require the purchase of a pressure washer for a few hundred dollars, or you can usually rent them as well.
Pressure washing a coil is not a major task; you simply back-flush the coils in the direction opposite air flow. Be careful to wash in a direction that will not bend the coil fins. Cover and protect any areas of the air-handler that you do not want the overspray of water from the pressure washer to come in contact with.
Afterwards, thoroughly vacuum and wipe down the inside of the air handler surfaces and the blower wheel. Typically you do not have a lot of access to the blower but be sure you clean any accessible part of it.
After cleaning the inside of the air handler, be sure you clean the outside of the cabinet as well. You don’t have to make it shiny and new looking, but get the built up grime on the cabinet cleaned up as best you can. You want the building owner or manager to see that you are conscientious about your work by paying attention to all the details of your cleaning project.