Do Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines such as Rotobrush really work? Are Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems Better??

Rotobrush Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines

Do Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines really work? Are Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems Better??

Do Rotobrush Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines really work? Aren’t the large Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems Better??

When trying to choose between Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines or the old fashioned “tried and true” Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems, there’s a ton of conflicting information online that can be downright overwhelming to sort thru as a consumer. You just want the best bang for your buck, and of course you need to make sure the Air Duct Cleaning Company you hire is using quality duct cleaning machines & equipment that will get the job done right! So which type of duct cleaning machine is better? I think the right question to ask is “Which type of Air Duct Cleaning Machine is better for my home??” I want to be 100% honest here and just get this out right now: BOTH duct cleaning systems have their place and can provide a higher quality of service in certain applications.  There are many larger commercial air duct systems where the higher suction and longer reaching air whip capabilities of the Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems really are the obvious choice. I will even freely admit that most Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems do have the necessary equipment to perform a high quality air duct cleaning service in your home.

You just admitted Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems are often the best choice for large Commercial Ducts and can also provide quality Home Air Duct Cleaning Services, so why even bother with Companies using Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines?                         Hint: Because you like to hold on to your hard earned money!

So if Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems are often the better choice for large commercial air duct systems and can also do a good job in most residential applications, why should you even consider hiring Companies utilizing Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines such as the units manufactured by Rotobrush International? It’s actually a simple choice when you take a closer look at the facts:

  • Portable air duct cleaning machines will most often provide a more thorough cleaning on typical residential home air duct systems (keep reading for a more in depth explanation)
  • Companies using the portable systems are able to offer much more affordable rates due to the decreased overhead associated with maintaining a truck powered system!

How does hiring Companies utilizing modern Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines save me money? And more importantly, how can I be sure the jobs done right?

In the distant past, the only option available to consumers looking for high quality Air Duct Cleaning Services was hiring Companies that would show up with large and expensive truck mounted systems dependent on a separate gas engine & fuel system to power the cumbersome “Duct Truck Vac” systems. I remember my Grandfather telling me stories about how he always thought it was great to sit back and watch the giant (upwards of 6 feet tall!) bags inflate off the Duct Truck that serviced his home. I can definitely see how the whole setup was very impressive looking! Rotobrush International was the first company to introduce Portable Brush Driven Air Duct Cleaning Systems to the Indoor Air Quality Industry that were NADCA approved. While these newer portable duct cleaning systems costs upwards of $9,000 each for their top of the line machines, that’s still a fraction of the costs of the Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Systems which easily cost upwards of $40,000 Dollars. Seriously, $40,000 dollars or MORE just for one Outfitted Duct Cleaning Truck!! Besides initial investment, the modern portable duct cleaning machines are also much simpler & cheaper to maintain with easily accessible HEPA filters and replaceable bolt-on drive & vacuum motors.

I think we’ve clearly established that portable machines have clear advantages for the Air Duct Cleaning Contractors, but which Duct Cleaning System is better for you, the homeowner? Continue reading to check out our breakdown of both systems and decide for yourself which is better suited for your home!


Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning System

-A large access hole is cut into the exposed ducting near or on the actual furnace on both the Supply and Return sides of the HVAC system. A large vacuum hose is attached to this access hole, then routed out to the powervac truck parked outside. In the past, this was the only option available to Homeowners looking for Air Duct Cleaning Services! And what if there isn’t enough exposed sheetmetal for two 10″- 12″ access holes, as is very common in residential applications? If that’s the case, sheetrock must be removed  to clear enough space for the access hole, which leaves you hiring another Contractor to repair the sheetrock.

-A drill with a long cable & a small brush at the end is ran thru the ductwork from each register or grill location, in theory agitating the debris in the ductwork. Oftentimes compressed air is also used to help dislodge debris from the walls of the duct. Meanwhile, the Power Vac motor is running during the entire process, in theory providing enough suction to draw all the loosened debris back thru the entire system and into their single vacuum port.


Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines utilizing Brush Driven Vacuum Systems:

-These machines get their suction from powerful individual vacuum motors, similar to the powerful vacuum motors used in high quality car wash equipment                                                                                    (Fun Fact; Rotobrush uses FOUR of these powerful vacuum motors in their highest end model, the “BrushBeast“!)

-A large diameter vacuum hose is outfitted with a quick connect fitting on the end, enabling the Technician to quickly change brush sizes so the correct size brush is being utilized for the size of the actual ducting being cleaned, ensuring contact with all surfaces of the ductwork. A machined drive cable runs thru the length of the large vacuum hose, spinning a soft bristled brush at the end.     A separate drive motor provides the power needed to spin the brush, while a sensitive clutch system prohibits the drive cable from binding up and potentially damaging any ductwork

Rotobrush Air Duct Cleaning Brushes
Specialized Air Duct Cleaning brushes are designed to fit each different size of the duct work in your Home! This ensures proper Contact Cleaning no matter what size or type of duct

So now that you understand the main differences between the two systems, you might still be asking “Which Duct Cleaning System is better for my home?”

-The truck mounted systems count on a single vacuum port to draw the debris from the farthest reaches of your homes ductwork system all the way back to the single access hole they have cut into your furnace. While this may do a decent job with dust and fine particles, larger debris such as bits of molding food, small toys, construction debris, dead rodents, etc have a good chance of never actually make it to the vacuum.

-The portable system sucks up the debris in your ductwork as it is knocked loose with the sized-to-fit brushes. The brush is mounted only inches from the powerful vacuum hose, rather than attempting to pull debris thru your entire maze of ductwork.  Watch a video about the BrushBeast

-The truck mounted system costs the Contractor much more to purchase & maintain, and those costs will have to be made up somewhere (by you!). The portable air duct cleaning machines are much more cost effective and easier to maintain, allowing Contractor’s to offer lower prices to the consumer while still providing a high quality service.

Proper Duct Cleaning Methods require 2 main components:

1)Breaking Contaminants loose from the walls of the duct using contact agitation without damaging the duct work.

2) Safely Collecting the Contaminants using a high powered vacuum with HEPA Filters.

Both air duct cleaning systems provide a means of doing the job adequately & safely, but just like any tool or piece of equipment, it ultimately comes down to the Technician operating & maintaining the duct cleaning equipment!

Utilizing Portable Air Duct Cleaning Machines was the obvious answer to providing our Customers with top of the line service while still offering affordable rates!

For over 98% of homes we’ve inspected for Air Duct Cleaning Services here in the Portland Oregon Metro Area, utilizing modern portable air duct cleaning machines was the obvious choice both financially for the Customer and for us as a Family Owned Business dependent on confidently & consistently providing high quality services to our Clients. In those rare instances where a residential home has large commercial style ducting installed and there is even the slightest change we cannot perform the job 100% to our high quality standards, we’ll actually decline the job at no costs to the Customer and even refer a local competitor who utilizes Truck Mounted Duct Cleaning Machines. We always explain to the Customer our reasons for not moving forward with the Duct Cleaning Service, and also give them a heads up to expect a significant price increase from the referred Truck Mounted Company.

In order to maintain our Competitive Pricing Business Model and commitment to our Small Business & Residential Customers, we’ve made a conscious decision not to worry about losing a handful of jobs per year that require Truck Mounted Services. We instead choose to focus on providing high quality residential air duct cleaning services at a substantially lower costs than competing Companies struggling to recoup their high overhead costs. Don’t get stuck paying Commercial Rates for your Residential Air Duct Cleaning Service!

Large Diameter Commercial Duct Cleaning
Long Commercial Style Duct is rare in Residential Homes, but not unheard of. The Rotobrush Duct Cleaning System could still handle the job, but the Customer would have to agree to having access holes cut into the duct at intervals allowing the vac hoses to reach the entire length of the duct















Just a quick note about J&M Services, Inc

J&M Services Inc our longtime Family owned Company, specialized in Ventilation & Gas Piping for several years prior to making Air Duct Cleaning Services available to our loyal Customers.  We had noticed the majority of Contractor’s offering Air Duct Cleaning Services in the Portland Oregon/Vancouver Washington Metro Area had no real knowledge of ductwork or furnace systems. We’ve made more than a few service calls to repair ducting that was damaged by Carpet Cleaning Companies that had added Air Duct Cleaning Services since it seemed like an easy service to add when they already had a carpet cleaning vacuum.  As a company specializing in Ventilation & Ductwork, if we were going to offer our loyal customers Air Duct Cleaning Services, we were determined to make sure we had the best equipment available in the Industry! In my educated opinion, Brush Driven Portable machines by far provide the best service & value for Residential Customers and most Small Business Owners. I think we’ll gradually see truck mounted duct cleaning systems disappear from the Residential Market over the next few years. From a consumer standpoint, I see no reason to pay considerably more for Commercial Designed Equipment when there are such obviously better choices available for your Residential Home’s Air Duct Cleaning Services

Give us a call at 360-263-5600 or 503-680-0195, or Email us here


If you’ve enjoyed this article, here’s a few more that would be worth your time to read:

Beware of the $99 Whole House Air Duct Cleaning Scams!!

Is Air Duct Cleaning Really Worth It? Not always, here’s a list of 5 reasons of why duct cleaning may or may not be worth it to you

The Air Duct Cleaning Process, a Step by Step presentation