Good question and one that we get often.
After being in the air conditioning system cleaning business since 1983, with literally thousands of dirty systems behind us, I have been able to see first hand what many other people have only talked about or speculated on — the effects of a dirty air conditioning system on a building’s occupants.
As you are probably aware, air conditioning systems accumulate dust, dirt, deteriorated fiberglass, mold, bacteria, and other contaminants. Air blowing through the dirty system can pick up this contamination and carries it into the occupied spaces, where it is inhaled by the occupants.
Sometimes the health effects of dirty systems can be quite serious and expose the building’s landlord/owner to liabilities.
At the same time, the systems dust and debris accumulation reduces air flow, negatively impacts the system’s efficiency and longevity, and increases energy costs in the building. So everyone loses.
We frequently have to cut into a system to gain access to the ducts to clean them; meaning that if we can’t get in without cutting in, no one else has gotten in before us, even to have a good look at the condition of the ducts; sometimes for many, many years.
OSHA estimates that about 30% of all commercial buildings suffer from below-standard indoor air quality.
Until you have seen some of these ducts yourself, it is often hard to grasp the full concept of what many building occupants in Southern California are breathing. You may only become aware of it after the system has been cleaned when employees suddenly start mentioning that they have stopped coughing or sneezing at work, that they feel more “awake” at work, or that other ill health effects have been lessened.
Several years ago, OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) had proposed regulations to require inspections of air conditioning systems in commercial buildings, and correction of problems found by the inspections. They estimated that about 30% of all commercial buildings suffer from below-standard indoor air quality.
Even though it isn’t usually enforced, the California Code of Regulations (Title 8) requires that “The HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning) system shall be inspected at least annually, and problems found during these inspections shall be corrected in a reasonable time.”
We strongly feel it would be of service for air conditioning contractors to advise their customers to get their air conditioning systems inspected for contaminants and cleaned regularly. Not only would they be helping the building’s landlord/owner to lessen potential liability, but they would be helping many employees in Southern California live and work in a cleaner, healthier environments.
I hope this has been of benefit to you.