hammer hitting a duct

Birth of duct cleaning as an industry

Soon after forced air furnaces were introduced, people were quickly realizing the systems needed cleaning. People at first tried the basics by using a simple household vacuum, brooms, toilet brushes, anything they could find that might help clean out the dust buildups. But because the nature of ducting is hidden behind drywall, ceilings and walls, it became quickly evident that specialized tools would be needed to properly clean the ducts.

The first specialized tools started out by using high powered vacuums mounted on trucks known now as Power Vac Trucks. The vacuums were powered by the trucks engines in many cases, and had massive amounts of suction. They would in turn run a large vacuum hose from the truck to the home’s ductwork inside. Once the vacuum was hooked up to the duct they would literally bang the ducting where they could with a hammer to vibrate the dust loose so it could be sucked up by the duct truck.

hammer hitting a duct
The “Hammer Method” of duct cleaning circa 1960. Jokingly referred to as the “Sonic Cleaning Method”

The hammer method of duct cleaning was not at all effective and it was soon realized that compressed air would be required to agitate the dust inside. The first compressed air tools actually looked like oversized hair dryers. These high speed blowers worked ok but failed to get all the dust blown down to where the vacuum was hooked up. Most times in early duct cleaning, these crude methods left huge amounts of debris still in the ducts and actually made the dust blowing out the vents even worse. Eventually someone came up with the great idea of mounting high powered compressed air pumps onto the trucks. These truck mounted air compressors moved the industry forward at a rapid pace as the air pressure was great enough to push the dust all the way into the trucks vacuum, finally leaving the ducts properly cleaned.

As the industry has evolved, so have the compressed air tools, these new tools such as the scorpion whip, viper whips, skipper lines and blow guns have become very efficient at moving the debris inside the ducts down to the vacuum source.

Agitation tools for duct cleaning
Modern agitation tools for duct cleaning: Blow Gun (upper left), Reverse Skip Line (upper right), Scorpion Whip System (mid), Forward Skip Camera (mid left), Brush System (bottom).







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