Category Archives: Power Vac Blog

Customer Heard Strange Noises

This is a recent customer that we serviced last week.  The customer heard rumbling  noises every time the furnace fan was running.  The dog also lost a few tennis ball.

We were able to clean the system, remove the tennis balls and a few dogie  toys and make the customer and the dog happy.


Balls on AC  ballonac2


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Ultraviolet Lighting

Ultraviolet light used in hvac

Ultraviolet Lighting in HVAC units

Ultraviolet lighting in HVAC units has increased substantially over the years with the
sudden interested in maintaining a healthy indoor environment. This article will
introduce you to the basics of Ultraviolet Lighting

Definition of Ultraviolet Lighting

A rainbow is made when light shines through droplets of water and breaks into is various
colors. The light just beyond the violet end of the spectrum is not visible to the naked
eye and is called ultraviolet light, also commonly knows as UV Light

There are three types of UV light
The three types of UV light are A, B and C representing a different section of the UV light spectrum.
Type C known as UVC is the form used for germicidal activity, When UVC is used for germicidal purposes, it is known as UVGI.
UVGI “deactivates” or kills microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, molds and other fungi by disrupting their DNA.

UVC is used for
       Surface disinfection
       HVAC Air disinfection
      Cooling Coil disinfection
      Water treatment
      Curing plastics and other materials
      Chemical Processing
Application in HVAC Systems

UVGI lamps are categorized by the internal pressure of the gas in the lamp. Low pressure
lamps are the most common types of lamps  found in HVAC system.
On hard surfaces like evaporator coils and drain pans the UVGI exposure is constant and the kill rate is up to 99.9%.
Bio aerosols is a more complex activity and affected by different factors such as system install, number of lamps and
lamp placement. Any installation of a UVC lamp in an HVAC system should include a method of visually inspecting it
periodically. Dirty lamps will result in reduced effectiveness. If the lamp becomes dirty, it should be cleaned with a
lint-free cloth and glass cleaner or alcohol. Never clean the lamp while it is turned on.

Hazards of Ultraviolet Lightings

Material decomposition is a concern in HVAC systems.  UVGI can seriously degrade organic materials over time in a HVAC system,
including filters, sealants, gaskets and wiring insulation, resulting in air leaks, fire hazards and loss of system performance.
It is best to shield all organic material components within 5 feet of the UV lamp.

Skin and eyes have to be protected when exposed to UVA or UVB  Ocular damage can occur 6-12 hours after  initial exposure.
skin damage from excess exposure is similar to sunburn.  Proper protection must be used when working with lamps.

Mercury Exposure is also a concern.  UVC lamps contain a small amount of toxic Mercury, so if a bulb breaks ,
care should be taken to reduce exposure to the Mercury.

Best Practises

It is generally agreed that source removal (Duct Cleaning) of contaminants is the single best method for cleaning and
decontaminating the HVAC system.

If Ultra Violets lights are installed in the HVAC system without proper training, UVC lamps can be ineffective and can
create hazards or material decomposition that can  negatively impact the efficiency of the system.

It is recommended that the installers be well educated on the materials from the manufacturer and in the ASHRAE Handbook – HVAC Systems and Equipment Chapter 17: Ultraviolet Lamp Systems


Nadca   Nadca White paper on Ultraviolet lighting applications in HVAC Systems

Ashae  Ashrae website   – HVAC systems and equipment

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Dirty AC Coil


During the Air Conditioning Season  we regularly get calls from home owners who are concerned about their AC freezing up  and not keeping the home comfortable during the humid periods .

Usually Coils freezing up means low air flow or a slight undercharge of refrigerant.  Low air flow is the most common.  It could be a result of a dirty filter,  dirty ductwork, damaged evaporator coil, restrictions in the ductwork or even a mismatched system where the outside unit is to large for the evaporator coil inside the furnace.

Frequently when Power Vac is cleaning ductwork  we do find blockages in the evaporator coils inside the furnace.  Blocked coils are a result of the fins of the evaporator coil getting plugged up .  The close spacing of the aluminum fins on an evaporator coil makes it easy for dirt, dust and other debris to stick. Lodged debris causes blockages, affecting the overall performance and efficiency of your air conditioning. Air flow across the coil becomes blocked, degrading heat transfer. Blockages come in the form of build-up from skin cells, fabric fibers, pet hair, grass clippings, tobacco smoke, pollen, mud, rust and bacteria.

Regular maintenance of your Furnace and Air Conditioner by a heating contractor, regular filter changes and a regular duct cleaning every 3 years with help to ensure that your heating and cooling system runs efficiently  and keeps everyone comfortable when you need it most.






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Mickey Mantle Topps Card

Our Project Manager from Cambridge contributed this. He found this about 15 years ago while cleaning his truck. The card is a 1961 Mickey Mantle Topps Trading card. In 1961 Mickey was a switch hitting power hitter for the New York Yankees. That year Mickey won the most valuable players award. A rare find indeed.  The card is actually older than Power Vac Services.  Mickey Mantle was 36 when Power Vac started cleaning ductwork in 1966.  What Mickey was to baseball , Power Vac is to duct cleaning….a power hitter!!

Power Vac Duct Cleaning Treasures found in ductwork
Mickey Mantle
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Power Vac Duct Treasurers

Many people ask what we find in the duct work during the cleaning.  Most of the time we find just  a lot  of lint, pet hair, construction debris etc but the odd time we come across some interesting history hidden in the ductwork

Power Vac Cambridge has a small collection of cards, toy, cans etc and we thought it would be interesting  to show you some of the goodies we have collected over the years.

Duct Cleaning Treasurers
This Green Giant can can be dated back to the early 60’s
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Can Duct Work be professionally cleaned for $170???

I got a deal

My answer is simple, yes in 1983 you might have gotten the system cleaned for that amount.

We all get the regular over seas call center calls  with attractive prices and the “deal of the day” emails in our mail box promoting duct cleaning.  We at Power Vac get many inquiries from confused consumers wondering why there is such a price discrepancy in our industry.

As any informed consumer would tell you, price is important, but  how the contractor will clean the ductwork , what is included and what is not  and the experience and reputation of the contractor should be an important consideration.

In our industry, methods for cleaning duct work will vary from a professional Nadca Certified Contractor using Vacuum Trucks with the required air tools to brush the inside of the ductwork to the contractors who use portable vacuums in the house .  An experienced reputable contractor will know the engineering controls and containment strategies required to protect the occupants of the house and prevent cross contamination. An experienced contractor will be educated to ensure that the job is done right.

Before you select a contractor you must determine what is included in the price and what is not and how does the price change.  What are the  possible add ons when the contractor arrives ?   Does the cost include access panels, extra hook ups, vacuuming the fan, coils, plenums etc ?

The experience and reputation of the contractor should be an important consideration.  How long has the contractor been cleaning ductwork , Is the contractor  Nadca Certified, do they carry liability insurance, are the service technicians covered by WSIB, Is the contractor in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and most importantly does the contractors work come with a warranty.

With a few little bit of knowledge and a few questions asked before you make your important decision on your service provider , you should be set to make a wise consumer choice.

Locally, we are blessed to have some really good service providers who really want to make a difference but bad decisions are made when  inexperienced, unqualified, uncertified  service providers are mixed with consumers who buy on price.





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