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Could Duct Cleaning Have Prevented the Gaylord HVAC Collapse?

Blog graphic with starry background and title Could Duct Cleaning Have Prevented the Gaylord HVAC Collapse
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Brandon Kirk

Brandon Kirk is the owner of Planet Duct-Air Duct Cleaning. As a NADCA Certified Air-Duct Cleaning Specialist, he has extensive experience servicing air ducts in El Paso County and the Southern CO region since 2019.

On May 6th, the overhead HVAC system above the Gaylord Rockies Resort’s pool collapsed, injuring six people. In videos of the incident, you can see dark, murky liquid spewing from the pipes. A well-maintained HVAC system should be clean and dry on the inside. So, what was in those pipes, and did it contribute to the collapse? 

When Was The Gaylord’s HVAC System Installed?

The Gaylord’s HVAC system was installed just five years ago by a local Denver contractor called RK Mechanical. They did not design the system but were hired as a subcontractor to fabricate and install it. 

The typical lifespan for a commercial HVAC system is 15-20 years. So the Gaylord’s ductwork should have lasted at least another decade before needing serious repairs or replacement.

Why Did the System Collapse?

Unfortunately, no one currently knows why the HVAC system failed. The incident is still being investigated by both the Gaylord Rockies Resort and an independent contractor that they hired to look into the situation. 

HVAC experts are beginning to develop theories about the collapse, however. Local journalist Rob Low interviewed a mechanical engineer who believes the system’s vents were poorly designed and didn’t allow moisture from the pool to escape the ductwork. Years of moisture build-up eventually put the ductwork under too much strain, and it snapped. 

The black liquid then is likely mold and mildew mixed with pool water.

Could Duct Cleaning Have Helped?

The National Association of Air Duct Cleaners recommends having your air ducts inspected once a year and cleaned as needed. The general rule of thumb is to clean your ducts once every 3-5 years. Following this recommended cleaning schedule, the Gaylord’s ducts would have been inspected five times and cleaned at least once. 

An air duct cleaning company can remove standing water from ductwork, which would have reduced overall strain on the system and prevented mold and mildew from developing. They also could have sealed the ducts to keep water out.

However, removing standing water would not have been enough in this situation. The Gaylord needed an experienced HVAC contractor to repair or replace the system and resolve the drainage issue. 

Duct Cleaning Helps You Find and Address Maintenance Issues

Though duct cleaning and yearly inspections wouldn’t have directly prevented the Gaylord’s HVAC collapse, a reputable commercial duct cleaner would have immediately noticed an issue with the amount of standing water in the ducts. They would have recommended calling an HVAC contractor to investigate the problem before this maintenance issue turned into a crisis. 

Whether you own a home or a business, it’s crucial to have your ducts checked regularly by an HVAC or duct cleaning expert. Even if the HVAC system hadn’t collapsed, the Gaylord’s guests were breathing moldy air circulated through the HVAC system. Yearly inspections help keep your home or business safe and healthy for everyone.