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How Does Air Duct Sanitizing Work?

Monday, June 22, 2020 By Ariana Thorn

While businesses continue to steadily reopen, sanitation and providing a healthy environment in the future is crucial.

Air duct sanitizing is an excellent tool that can be utilized to provide healthy, clean air for any individual entering your buildings. Particles, pollutants, and contaminants travel through the air and into HVAC systems, which could be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of others.


Cleaning, air duct sanitizing, sterilization, and even the use of UV lighting can have a great impact on the environment of your building, energy savings, and indoor air quality. HVAC technicians perform air duct cleaning prior to actually sanitizing by using specialized tools to extricate dirt and debris, which are then removed using a high-powered vacuum cleaner. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), says technicians focus on a variety of heating and cooling components in forced air systems. These components include:

  • Supply and return air ducts and registers

  • Drip pans

  • Heat exchangers heating and cooling coils

  • Grilles and diffusers

  • Fan motor and fan housing

  • Air handling unit housing

In most instances, technicians should be able to access the components from openings that are pre-existing for service, through duct end caps, service grilles or supply diffusers. However, all jobs are unique, and openings are not always available. Craftsmanship is important in this regard, because techs may have to cut holes in duct work to gain proper access to perform cleaning.

Air duct sanitizing is a process that can be performed in HVAC systems with non-porous surfaces to kill excessive microbial growth. To request air duct sanitizing services, an HVAC technician will first need to inspect and clean your ducts. Air duct sanitizing is then done with the use of EPA approved antimicrobial chemicals including deodorizers, pesticides, sanitizers, and disinfectants.

The major use of antimicrobial products in HVAC systems is for the inhibition of microbial growth on hard surfaces within components such as air handlers, fans and duct interiors. Disinfectant products may be used in coils, drain pans, and other parts of the air handler. The use of these agents will aid in destroying harmful growth throughout the system– whether it be bacteria, fungi, or viruses, and it will allow for improved indoor air quality.

Application of these substances is conducted through fogging, spraying, or wiping down components within the system. Once the application is complete, allowing proper ventilation after sanitizing is important to stay within EPA guidelines and ensure minimal human exposure.


Installation of UVC lights in your HVAC system is a tool that can help air duct sanitizing. In our previous blog (Benefits of UVC Light Installation in HVAC Systems), we touch on the use of UVC lights to sterilize HVAC components and improve indoor air quality. UVC refers to ultraviolet light that has a wavelength between 200-280 nanometers (nm). Light in the UVC wavelength has the ability to be used for sterilizing surfaces, disinfecting water, and destroying micro-organisms in the air or food products. UVC can also eliminate biofilms, mold, fungi, and other organic contaminants on coils, drainpipes, and plenum interiors.

UVC lights act as an air sanitizer by eliminating bacteria, growth, allergens, and other air born illnesses passed through air handling systems. Sanitizing your air ducts and following up with the installation of UVC lights will allow for continuous cleaning and sanitizing of the components within your HVAC system, improved air flow and efficiency, indoor air quality improvement and cost savings.


Indoor air quality has become a major concern of building managers and inhabitants – especially during this global pandemic. Normal occupancy within a building leads to contaminants, pollutants and bacteria that can enter HVAC systems. On average these will be recirculated through the system 5 to 7 times a day. 

The National Institute of Health says in densely occupied buildings, airborne microbial contaminants can result in numerous adverse effects on human health and well-being, including inflammation and infections. Airborne bacteria and fungi have the potential to adversely impact human health by causing infections, allergic responses, or toxic effects. Thus, microbial growth in HVAC systems and subsequent contamination of the indoor air environment is of increasing concern.

HVAC systems are the lungs of your building. The system takes air in and breathes it out just as our own bodies do. Taking the proper precautions and steps of sanitation you can see improvement of indoor air quality in your buildings.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 to 40% of the energy used for heating or cooling is wasted. Contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work harder and shorten the life of your system. Although filters are used, the heating and cooling system still gets dirty through normal use.

It is normal for mechanics within your HVAC system to see wear and tear. However, air duct sanitizing, cleaning and UVC lights can assist in slowing that process. After the service is performed your ducts will be free of contaminants, growth, pests, mold, dust, debris etc. Removal of all contaminants allows your system to work more effectively and maintain the desired temperature of your building, with less strain. This then leads to less energy being used – which ultimately means becoming more energy efficient and lower costs!


Through the utilization of air duct sanitizing and a focus on indoor air quality, you can improve the breathing of your building along with the potential to minimize health risks for occupants. Eliminating microbial growth within your HVAC systems can benefit your building, especially during these trying times.

Illumetek remains here for you! We specialize in electrical, lighting controls, smart lighting installation – and we are always adapting to new technologies – such as UVC light installs and sanitation needs to provide a healthy environment and to better help your business!  Please reach out to us at any time. For more information, please contact us at hello@illumetek.com or at (800) 644-2566.


Filed under: HVAC, Illumetek, Trends

About Illumetek

Illumetek is a National Program Management company facilitating installs, updates, compliance and rebates for Lighting, Electrical, and associated Controls. If you have additional questions regarding LED lighting technology or design, please feel free to contact us anytime.

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Illumetek is a National Program Management company facilitating installs, updates, compliance and rebates for Lighting, Electrical, and associated Controls. Contact us today!