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Which is Better for Your Duct Cleaning? A Roto Brush or a Truck Mounted System

Which is Better for Your Duct Cleaning? A Roto Brush or a Truck Mounted System
Olivia Minnier
Content Writer

About This Article

In this article, we discuss whether a truck-mounted system or roto brush for duct cleaning? Which is better? Find out in this blog post.

Have you been interested in getting a duct cleaning for your home but have seen options like “Roto brush” and “Duct Cleaning” and been confused about which one may be right for you? If so, you may find this article helpful while searching for a duct cleaning provider.

First, we are going to go over what duct cleaning even is.

What Is an Air Duct Cleaning?

An air duct cleaning is exactly what it sounds like: cleaning the ductwork inside your home. Your ducts are passages that are used to deliver air to and from your home. Dust, debris, and even objects or anything that could be inside or outside your home can gather inside of them. Or anything your family has dropped inside of a register.

So why is duct cleaning beneficial?

These objects and dust can limit the airflow of your HVAC system, cause health issues for you and your family and cause your system to work less efficiently over time.

According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases, those levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants. In other words, the air inside can sometimes be far more harmful than outside.

At Fire & Ice, we generally recommend ductwork cleaning every 3-5 years. Or, after you have construction or any remodeling jobs completed on your home, bought a new home, or have pets, young children, or any allergy sufferers living inside your house.

If cleaning your ducts and ensuring your home air quality is at its best, you’ll likely see two options for duct cleaning offered when looking for services. The first option is a roto brush.

What is a Roto Brush, and How Can it Clean My Ducts?

A roto-brush or a portable duct cleaning system is a self-contained vacuum consisting of three parts: the vacuum, rotating brush head, and hose. The unit is carried room by room and cleans the ductwork by inserting the roto brush into each vent.

Sounds easy and convenient, right? Wrong. Roto brushes or these types of portable vacuum systems can encounter significant issues when it comes to dust removal because of the way that they are constructed.

The issue is that the hose itself is 4-inches thick and cannot get into tight spaces or ductwork with a lot of bends and turns. So when the unit is turned on, the brush is activated, and it violently spins, stirring up all the debris inside the ductwork.

However, these vacuums have weaker horsepower and won’t be able to capture the dust being stirred up. Not to mention it can even damage your ductwork as well.

Even the largest portable system has a suction powered around 5,000 cubic feet per minute and will only go so far as to suck up all that debris. So when it’s all said and done, you’re likely left with the dust in your ductwork floating around in the house and not collected by the system. This is especially true if all the vents and registers aren’t covered prior to the duct cleaning.

At Fire & Ice, we don’t use these systems because they can cause more problems than they solve for your ducts and your home's indoor air quality.

How Does a Truck Mount System Work and How Does it Clean My Ducts?

At Fire & Ice, we use a truck-mounted vacuum on all of our duct cleanings. Why? Because it’s just the best way to clean ductwork properly and efficiently. A truck-mounted system includes a 12,000 CFM gas-powered vacuum mounted to our truck. Attached to the vacuum is a 10” hose that gets attached to your ductwork.

The goal with the truck-mounted system is to put your entire ductwork system into negative pressure. This way, all the dust and debris from your ducts will go into the truck and not stay inside your home.

To accomplish this task, each vent is sealed. Then, compressed air is shot into each vent and duct connection to agitate and push the debris towards the vacuum. Additionally, during a duct cleaning with Fire & Ice, our technicians go the extra step with our duct cleanings to clean the coil and furnace blower, if accessible. These areas are known to carry bacteria and other nastiness that could be entering your home.

Not only will your ductwork be cleaned in the end, but all dust and debris will be 100% removed from the home since the system will be under negative pressure during the entire cleaning process. Additionally, a disinfectant, like Decon 30, can be added afterward to take the cleaning to the next level.

Consider the Ability to Move Around Ductwork Dampers

Another essential thing to consider when figuring out what device should be used to clean your ductwork is dampers. Typically, you will see a lever sticking on the outside of the round pipe when you go down into your basement and see your ductwork.

It's attached to a circle on your ductwork, which is a damper, basically allowing it to change the airflow. So you can either have it parallel with the ductwork itself, letting the airflow go through, or you can have it turn so that you can stop the airflow.

We bring this up because they can cause issues when you’re trying to fit a vacuum like one on a portable system through the area.

For example, a mobile unit brush can be 4 inches in diameter. If you're trying to move that large of a hose into your ductwork, you will run into a damper, either damaging the damper and damaging your ductwork or not being able to get to the full extent of the round pipe, meaning that the job is not being done properly.

This will create a more significant issue for you and require you to get your ducts potentially repaired. You do not run into this issue with the negative pressure used with the truck-mounted system.

To agitate dust, instead of trying to shove a hose through, companies that use the truck-mounted system will cut a series of access holes into the ductwork. Then, the technician will insert specialized tools to help move the dust through and into the vacuum.

Now that you know the difference between a portable brush vacuum system and a truck-mounted system, which is better for you?

Which Option is Better for Cleaning My Ductwork?

As stated above, At Fire & Ice, we only use a truck-mounted system for all of our duct cleanings because it is more effective at removing dust and debris. It also won’t damage your ductwork. With a roto brush, you risk doing more harm than good.

When it comes to potential equipment damage, be on the lookout for companies peddling scams or air duct cleaning offers that seem too good to be true.

Be on the Lookout For Duct Cleaning Scams

Be wary of companies handing out cheap, seemingly too good to be real deals on duct cleaning. These companies can use systems that damage your ductwork and high-pressure sales tactics to get you to commit. For example, they have salespeople who are not technicians come into your home and try to perform duct cleaning services they are not certified to do. They may even go so far as to lie to you and say they found mold inside your ductwork or add extra charges that are unnecessary.

Look for companies with certifications from The National Air Filtration Association and The Air Systems Cleaning Specialist certification from the National Air Duct Cleaning Association. Being a member of the Indoor Air Quality Association is also a good sign.

In the Columbus, Ohio area, many companies offer duct cleaning services, but only a very few know HVAC. The process doesn’t just stop at the vents; the company you select should use every tool at their disposal to address the whole system.

Take The Next Step for a Cleaner Home, Done Right

At Fire & Ice, we believe in doing the right things, the right way every time or not doing them at all. Therefore, we use a truck-mounted system. It’s the only way to clean your ductwork thoroughly and adequately. We’re trained and certified in both strategies, and that’s why we know without a doubt that to clean your ducts thoroughly, it takes a truck-mounted system in conjunction with a thorough process built upon HVAC Duct Cleaning national certifications such as those listed above.

If you’re looking to improve your home’s indoor air quality and address cleanliness issues with the entire HVAC system, call us and schedule an appointment for an air duct cleaning consultation.

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