The HL Restoration Impacting Midwest Industries vlog series is where our very own Steve Tutt speaks with our industry partners and others about what they do, their passion, and the great things they are doing in the Midwest all while having a little bit of fun! Click here to view all of our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel! Click here if you cannot view the video above.
Steve Tutt: Welcome back to HL Restorations Impacting Midwest Industries. Today we have the managing partner for Duct Doctor, Brooks Ingrassia. I’m glad you could join us today. I know you through some past times when I was a property manager. You were one of my vendors, and I had to come in and clean some ducts at the condominiums that I managed. You guys did a fantastic job, Brooks. I was impressed with your work, impressed with your company, and that’s kind of why we wanted to bring you on to this show, and it was a coincidence that HL and you work together with real close, too, so that was great.
Brooks Ingrassia: Yeah, we’ve been servicing HL for the seven years that we’ve been in business.
ST: That’s fantastic. Well, tell us a little bit about Duct Doctor and how it came up in Kansas City and the story behind them.
About Duct Doctor USA of Kansas City
BI: So, yeah, Duct Doctor was started in 1986 out of Atlanta, Georgia. One of the differences with us is We use a patented truck, and a board-certified allergist actually designed that truck. So my business partner and I, Jeff, opened the location in 2013, and we began to see the need for air duct cleaning on the commercial level. Jeff sold HVAC controls for schools, hospitals, and that sort of thing, and we just saw the need there. So we opened up started with residential like many do and broke our way into commercial with the truck defining our capabilities and just grew it from there through you know, meeting great companies like HL Restoration and other folks in the industry.
ST: Well, that’s great. What sets Duct Doctor apart from all the competition out there?
BI: So, I mentioned it once, our truck is different. If you put us up on a residential system, our truck is pulling eight times more negative pressure than what that furnace or HVAC unit blows out. So there’s lots of suction to collect dust, debris, mold, anything like that and building materials if it was reconstruction or remodel. Then, our NACA training. NACA is the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, and our guys go through that training process. I, myself, am a certified air systems cleaning specialist and a certified ventilation inspector
ST: Say that three times fast.
BI: So that’s quite a bit of studying. I mean, the guys take about three months to study that material. You’ve got to know residential systems, the complexities of commercial systems, exhausts, dryer vents, everything within the air conveyance system.
ST: So yeah, that’s one of the questions I was going to ask it with you, but I think you just answered it, but you do residential, commercial, is there something that you don’t do?
BI: We don’t do mechanical repair, but other than that, anything involved with cleaning the air conveyance system. Whether it’s the exhaust ducts, the rooftop units, the air handling units, the cooling towers, chillers, anything that can be cleaned in that air conveyance system, we’ll attempt to clean it. I’ve done a couple of trash shoots even, so sometimes something outside of the system. It’s still a duct, it just handles trash instead of air.
Reducing Energy Use and Bringing Healthier Air into Your Home or Facility
ST: How is Duct Doctor impacting Midwest industries?
BI: Right now, you know, it’s obviously been an unusual time. The “new normal” as we’re all beginning to call it, and it was unique for us. We had to develop some protocols for our guys PPE, obviously, the masks, we have some custom cloth logoed masks for the guys that our clients have really enjoyed.
When our teams show up at your facility or your home, our guys are going to approach that facility with gloves, masks, shoe covers, to keep your building safe and our guys safe. In terms of what we’ve been looking at, studies have begun to show that Coronavirus or COVID-19 can travel through the air via dust particles, so if you remove the dust, you can remove some of that threat or risk.
As companies are bringing back their people, we’re doing a lot of site visits. “Hey, what does it look like getting our air conveyance system cleaned? What can you clean? What can you sanitize? What can you disinfect?” There are some things we can clean and sanitize and disinfect, and there are other things that we can just clean and mitigate the risks that way with our normal cleaning process.
ST: So is that when you’re talking about combating the Coronavirus, is that what you’re talking about?
ST: Well, why is it important that you have an HVAC system cleaned, and when do you know when that needs to take place?
BI: Great question. So, every three to five years is the NACA recommendation for commercial and residential homes to be cleaned. Once you get into industrial and healthcare, it’s about every year that it should be getting inspected and having us looking at it. Right now, even amid the Coronavirus, you’ve still got a high humidity out there, we’ve still got moisture. So we still are dealing with the same air systems and duct systems that we always have.
If you have a building that’s bringing in outdoor air and maybe having trouble maintaining humidity, you’re still going to have some troubles in that air conveyance system where those irritants and contaminants are still causing your people to have negative effects on their allergies and their breathing. You know, we still have buildings that have “sick building syndrome,” regardless of Coronavirus. So even if you’re not going to get it cleaned, it’s a good idea to have your air conveyance system inspected.
One of the big things we see, and we’ve been doing a lot of it recently is cleaning the coils in your rooftop units and air handling units. Those things get plugged up, they get clogged, and they can waste 20 to 30% of the building’s energy using it up, and that’s just from not cleaning the coils.
ST: Now with Duct Doctor combating Coronavirus, how are you ensuring the safety of the teams and the clients that you’re doing the service for?
BI: So for our guys, you know, especially in the commercial and industrial settings, our guys were already comfortable with using HEPA face respirators, you know, things that are common to our industry, Steve. HEPA face respirators, Tyvek suits, nitrile gloves, you know, those are all things we’re accustomed to. Those are tools we’d use even in the case of mold or fire damage jobs. So that’s normal for the guys. We include additional air scrubbers while our teams are working, you know, while we’re cleaning the air ducts, you still have some dust, debris, and then maintaining low touchpoints. We don’t want to be going into a building where maybe it used to be that we’d move an office chair or move a desk or move some things around the room to get access. We’re trying to limit that having the building operator or tenant or client do that for us so that our guys aren’t touching everything inside that building envelope.
ST: What should clients be aware of when selecting an air duct cleaning company or contractor? Is there something a newbie looking for that it’s a red flag?
BI: Right off the bat, NACA certification. You want a contractor that’s gone through the training, gone through the certification process, understands the industry standards, knows how to clean a duct system properly. If you hire an uncertified unqualified contractor, that’s going to backfire that’s going to cost you a lot more money in the long run. So NACA certification is key to me. Right now, we’ve had friends, family, other clients reach out and go, “Hey, I saw this is this accurate?”
You see a lot of duct cleaners make the claim that they can sanitize the ductwork and 100% guarantee your building is free of Coronavirus, and that’s an outrageous claim. We can’t guarantee that the ducts are sanitized from one end to the other. In fact, the NACA recommendation is that we don’t sanitize ductwork, per the EPA guidelines. So, you know, if you’re making false claims, or if a price is too good to be true, it probably is. That should be a red flag. Back away and call around a little bit more.
ST: This is kind of a funny story in a way because when I was calling you guys for the first time and the board wanted to get the ducts clean, and I was like, “Okay, I’ve never really done that before.” So I was like, I’m kind of new as a property manager, and I was like, “I’ll do that.” Then they were asking, “Well, how do we know the guys are doing it, and they’re not just telling us they’re doing it and billing us?” And I’m like, “Well, I don’t know, what do you want me to do, put a camera on the end of the thing?” but I couldn’t believe you guys actually have a camera on that machine when it’s going through there and showing how it’s been cleaned.
BI: For us, and that was designed by me to make sure that we could show a client the value we bring. You can’t see the inside of your duct system, so what I always tell clients is, If you hired me to paint a wall, you could look at the wall and go, you did a great job, or you did a terrible job. So we do that with lots of photos when we’re doing a duct cleaning, or in that case, a dryer vent cleaning, where we have, you know, a 99 foot optical LED camera lit up, I can narrate it, I can record it, upload it to Dropbox, and drop it back to you or something like that. So, you know, just showing that value. That protects us, that protects you as a client, you know in those dry air vent settings, there’ve been several clients that use it for insurance purposes.
ST: With what’s going on right now with COVID and other things, and even with the maintenance, you should be doing this, as you said earlier, but I think it’s important for property managers to put this in their budgets each year or every other year, whatever you think is recommended depending on what the application is if it’s a commercial building, condo, residential, whatever. People need to start budgeting for something like this, especially with what’s going on right now.
BI: More often than not, I get a call, and we go out and look at a property, and then, you know, a lot of folks, especially on the commercial side, can get taken back by my price. But you also have to realize that duct cleaning is a very invasive process. I’m in every office, I’m opening the ceiling, I’m up in your mechanical rooms, I’m on your roof, I’m in your basement, you know, there’s a lot of time involved and a lot of labor, and we take it really seriously. My guys take the time and do it right.
Cleaning the mechanical system or cleaning the air conveyance system is not a gorgeous item to spend money on by any means, but it has a drastic improvement in the reduction of energy usage and keeping those building occupants, staff, and guests safe.
ST: You have a website of course and an email address, do you want to share that with the group so that they can reach out and contact you if anybody needs any services?
Dinosaurs, Aliens and the Denver Broncos
ST: Okay, I’m going to turn the tables a little bit and have a little fun with you.
BI: Okay, here we go.
ST: I’m going to ask you a few questions and be honest.
BI: Fair enough. Here we go.
ST: First, I’ve got to start by asking because I’m a big sports fanatic, what’s your favorite NFL team?
BI: Well, I’m going to upset some folks. You know, I do like Mr. Mahomes, but I was born and bred a diehard Denver Broncos fan.
ST: See this face right now? Who booked this guy on this? Denver Broncos, really?! In Kansas City, you’re going to admit that?
BI: It’s a hard badge to wear, especially the last couple of weeks.
ST: I’m going to help you. I’m going to get you a jersey, and it’s going to be a Chiefs jersey. We’re going to take a lot of photos together. That way, it doesn’t hurt your clientele around here because I’m afraid you saying the Denver Broncos just lost you a lot of clients here in KC.
BI: Yeah, it’s rough. I tend not to wear my Broncos gear, especially if I have a meeting.
ST: That’s probably a very good idea. Alright, what’s your favorite dinosaur?
BI: Oh, T-rex. Easily.
ST: What do you think is the worst way to die?
BI: Oh, drowning.
ST: Me too, I’m so scared to drown. That would be a horrible way to die. Next question. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
BI: Oh, pork bellies. Easy.
ST: What conspiracy theories do you believe in?
BI: Area 51 is a big one.
ST: So, you believe in aliens?
BI: I believe in the aliens, I believe in area 51, I think there’s a little extra life out there.
ST:I agree. 100%. Would you rather own a dragon or be a dragon?
BI: Be a dragon.
ST: Exactly. I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to blow blue fire. Would you rather wear shoes every single second for the rest of your life or never be allowed to wear shoes ever again?
BI: So you may not know this, but you’re talking to a runner. I run a lot.
ST: Oh, do you?
BI: Yeah, so that’s a hard one because now what my brain is trying to figure out is if I could run better without shoes, and I think I could. So yeah, no shoes ever.
ST: All right. Last one. You have kids, right?
BI: Yep. I have twin girls that are 11, Andy and Riley, and then a little guy named Braxton, who’s eight.
ST: What’s your favorite animal in the world?
BI: We’re a dog house. I adore my yellow lab. He’s my buddy.
ST: Oh, they’re great
BI: Very seldomly do you see me without my yellow lab.
ST: Nice. Well, Brooks, thanks for joining us, man. It’s been a lot of fun.
BI: No problem. I greatly appreciate you guys having me.
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