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How much does Total Air Care cost? July 7, 2020



Presco Environmental technician, Frank, changing filters
Presco Environmental technician, Frank, servicing filters as part of a Total Air Care program


There is so much more to Total Air Care than air filter replacement.

Your critical hygiene environment will have an air quality standard you have to meet. To do this, you must complete the following HVAC services at least once each year:


1. A deep clean and sanitise of your Air Handling Unit (AHU)

You know you need to change our the primary and secondary filters already. But, you must also remove foreign matter and pathogens from every compartment of the AHU. This will require a deep chemical clean and sanitise of the following:

  • air intake plenum / louvres
  • insect screen bank
  • pre-filter bank
  • secondary filter bank

as well as the walls, ceilings, floors and drains of these rooms. Here, our technicians identify and fix any bypass issues.


Check and clean your supply air fan

Each AHU has a fan. Soil accumulates on the internal surfaces and blades of the air supply fan over time, causing:

  • inefficiency
  • increased energy consumption, and
  • foreign matter contamination. 

Check your fan annually, and clean it when required. Some fans will need cleaning technicians with confined space training.


Check and clean your heat exchange coil

Most AHU’s have some form of heating/cooling coils. The fine fins of a heat exchange coil accumulate soil build-up over time. This becoming a breeding ground for pathogens protected by bio-film. This creates:

  • inefficiencies
  • increased energy consumption, and
  • increased pathogen risk.

You need to carefully clean your coils every year. This will remove the build-up and allow the air to flow through without restriction.

An alternative to this is to install UV-C light or Bipolar Ionisation technology at the coil face to prevent the soil accumulation.


2. Supply air ducting check and clean

Depending on the age and condition of ducting, all air supply ducting will accumulate some foreign matter over time. Check this each year and clean when required. Supply air ducting for food manufacturing facilities should be designed to be ‘cleanable’. This means it should:

  • have sufficient access hatches to allow cleaning, and
  • be of a cleanable material and construction.

Duct cleaning can involve mechanical cleaning equipment and/or cleaning technicians trained in confined space entry .


3. Extract air ducting check and clean

You will need to clean your extraction ducting to remove product or grease build-up at least annually. The exact frequency will be dependent on the make-up of the extract air. Inspections will determine the correct frequency.

Extraction ducting for food manufacturing facilities should be designed to be ‘cleanable’. This means it should:

  • have sufficient access hatches to allow cleaning, and 
  • be of a cleanable material and construction.

The ducting usually finishes on roof tops with a weather cowl and potentially a roof-top fan. These need to be accessed for checking and cleaning as well. Duct cleaning can involve mechanical cleaning equipment and/or cleaning technicians trained in confined space entry .


4. Quarterly clean of air intake (dirty side)

Air intake plenums and insect screens are the ‘dirty side’ of AHU’s. This area captures coarse dust, seed heads and all manner of insects, protecting the primary filters from clogging up too quickly. As such, the dirty side is a perfect breeding ground for pathogens. Air filters do not generally capture pathogens. Therefore, you will need to regularly clean and sanitise the ‘dirty side’ to ensure your HVAC system can deliver ‘clean’ air. Generally, you should check and clean every quarter is a rule of thumb. However, some external environments specify monthly or bi-monthly cleaning.


Value of annual hygiene service vs. the cost of filters.

The value of these annual hygiene services is on average 1 -2 times the total value of the air filter (primary and secondary) replacement cost for an AHU. Smaller AHUs (less than 50 filters) are closer to 2 times and larger AHU’s (200+ filters) are closer towards 1 time.
When creating a maintenance budget for your HVAC systems, remember the annual hygiene servicing cost. This will be 1-2 times the filter replacement cost. Alternatively, ask a reputable HVAC hygiene contractor to provide a quotation for an annual HVAC hygiene program.


PS. There is a cost of doing nothing too.

If you do not do these hygiene services at the recommended intervals, any money spent on air filter replacement is effectively wasted. This is because your HVAC system cannot deliver ‘clean’ air through dirty and contaminated system components, even with brand new filters fitted.


Best practise

Check, and clean as required, your entire HVAC system from end-to-end at the same time as the filter replacement


Matthew Prestidge, General Manager

About the Author

Matthew Prestidge is our General Manager and Senior Industrial Hygiene and Indoor Air Quality advisor.

Having spent the last 15 years creating more sustainable environments on industrial sites, Matthew has seen the good, the bad and the ugly and knows what is required to “clean up”.   

Would you like to discuss solutions to industrial cleaning issues?  
Matthew offers a free consultation and easy-to-implement advice on Industrial Hygiene and Indoor Air Quality for anyone in the New Zealand Food and Beverage industry. Contact him at matthew@presco.co.nz




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