Published On: Mon, Jul 26th, 2010

Keeping up with the A/C cleaning boys in the land of mold and pet dander

The painter, the plumber, the air conditioning man – who hasn’t had a run-in with one of these fellows?

You start out with high aspirations of excellence, you hire the best person for the job (you think) and before you know it – the money is gone and the job is not done right.

Sound familiar?

Well, that’s life in South Florida. We get the sun, surf and palm trees, but the work ethic is often mañana (or loco). And unfortunately, an honest and reliable technician or repair man is as valuable as a dedicated spouse, but often more elusive.

Since most of us have our horror stories (faulty air conditioners, deadbeat painters and car dealers with greasy hands and deep pockets), it’s time to bring to light the more honest side of this gritty underbelly of existence. Don’t we need to know who should clean our ducts (and if duct cleaning has merit), what type of tires to buy and how to tell if our air conditioning repair person is telling the truth (there are no lie detector tests for this profession).

One of the most vexing problems about living in the tropics is how to keep our air quality up to snuff.  As a former mold queen and self taught mold expert, I was determined to find out how to avoid this insidious combatant. I learned that moisture can turn to mold quicker than a rib roast needs marinating for Thanksgiving.

I also learned that air conditioning coils (in the air handler) are often the culprit for harboring mold spores. If you think you can always smell mold, you’re mistaken. Black mold has no odor but the telltale sign is thick air and upper respiratory ailments. When I was a newbie Florida resident and someone asked me if my air was thick I immediately thought of bean soup and milk-shakes. Those are thick I thought – but my air – who knew?

Once you have your coils cleaned (don’t just ask anyone; it is a job for experts) you need to clean your ducts. But the issue of “to clean or not to clean” is as old (and as controversial) as whether to ingest calcium for strong bones. And, the answer is yes to the ducts and no to the heavy dose of calcium (Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum agrees).

For years I had heard that duct cleaning was the biggest scam in South Florida. Some people said don’t waste your time; others said you could ruin the lining of your ducts. So I left my duct health up to the Gods of air quality. And until now I did not get a definitive answer.

But, things have changed.  I recently spoke to Omar Pissance of Ductz.  Pissance and his brother David are changing the face of clean air for many South Floridians. I learned that air conditioning coils pick up moisture and mold spores but that when you renovate or remodel a house the air conditioner needs to be sealed off or the dust will go right into the AC unit and ducts. I also learned that bugs can get into the ducts and die, leaving harmful particles that fly though the air (I didn’t learn this in college, did you?).

Pissance also said that air ducts need to be inspected every other year and that duct cleaning can remove contaminants from bugs, mold spores, pollen, pet dander and smoke from fires. Of course, if the air is bad the air blower needs to be cleaned with a large vacuum and the area needs to be brushed out. Ductz does all this for customers by vacuuming the surface of the duct and using an anti-microbial inhibitor and sometimes an ultraviolet UV light.

It all sounded pretty good, but as a master skeptic I needed proof that DUCTZ was telling me the truth. So I checked around town and spoke to Ductz customer Mark Finizio. Finizio used Ductz to get rid of smoke that pervaded his new house and to clean the air. “The results were amazing. We noticed the difference immediately. It was so good I called them to clean the ducts in my office in Fort. Lauderdale,” added Finizio.

I thought this was a good thing – but I still needed more proof. So I called Boca resident Judith Nadler. Nadler’s husband was getting a rash that was thought to be the result of parasites (Florida life is so exotic). In an attempt to sanitize their ocean front condo they called in Ductz. “I was so impressed with Ductz, they were wonderful,” said Nadler. “They were so honest, efficient and it really helped a lot. I highly recommend them.”

So, there you have it. If your air is suspect and you don’t feel that you’re getting the cleanest air check out Ductz and ask for Omar at 954-366-6131.

As for the tire saga and the air conditioning rules for dummies, check out my next column. Eventually the truth comes out like the plot to a good novel. But unlike literature the truth about buying tires and air conditioning units is a job for Sherlock Holmes (not mere mortals like us).

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