2012 Alison Withers
Facilities managers responsible for all sorts of large buildings in the business, health and hospitality sectors will be aware of the variety of regulations governing the maintenance of those buildings to minimise the health and safety risks to the people using them.
One important area for attention is any ductwork installed in the building for either air conditioning, heating or extraction purposes.
Generally the focus of concern relating to ductwork is the risk of fires, the risk of spreading germs and infections and the quality of the air in the building. Keeping the ductwork to acceptable standards usually requires a regular programme of maintenance inspections and cleaning that is set at a level appropriate to the activities within the building.
There are plenty of specialist companies that carry out duct cleaning and the question for managers is how to identify the right duct cleaning company to use.
While it is always a good strategy to ask for quotations from more than one company, this does not necessarily mean that the cheapest will be the best.
By having the selected companies complete a preliminary inspection and submit a report with recommendations and proposals with their quotes you can learn a lot.
The first item to check because it will give an indication of the company’s competence is whether it uses the best practice guidelines recommended b the Industry body, the HVCA (Heating and Ventilation Contractors’ Association) which was renamed the B&ES (the Building & Engineering Services Association) earlier in 2012.
You should also expect that any reputable duct cleaning company is familiar with and complies with the Health & Safety at Work 1974 Act, COSHH regulations on dealing with hazardous chemicals.
The company should be able and willing to provide a certificate of completion after carrying out any ductwork cleaning, a photographic report upon completing each contract and if the ductwork involved is part of a commercial kitchen operation standards should conform to the Food Safety Acts.
It may be important to know more about the equipment the company has available not only for cleaning but also for safe working if working at heights is involved. In some situations the types of chemical cleaning materials that will be used may be important.
The other important concerns to put on the checklist may include flexibility. Is the company willing to carry out the work outside of periods of peak activity in the building? There should also be some clear guidelines as to what guarantees there are about refunds if the work has not been carried out satisfactorily.