The ductwork in any commercial facility is one of the hardest working elements of a building’s operations. During an extended period of operation, it is prone to accumulate dirt, dust and moisture which can restrict airflow and jeopardize the quality of the indoor air. It’s no wonder, then, that the ductwork insulation can become a real air quality challenge and lead to employee health issues if not resolved. Staying ahead of the break down of the ductwork can be addressed proactively if facilities managers are informed about what to look for.

We’ve collected some reasons why commercial air duct insulation breaks down as well as some ways to fix it.

Fiberglass Insulation Breakdown

The constant high velocity air flow of heated and cooled air as well as other external environmental elements can lead to the destruction of fiberglass insulation in a ductwork system. As one of the more fragile components of the system, the insulation can deteriorate quickly under typical usage. When this happens, fiberglass particles can let loose into the air flow, creating eye, skin and respiratory issues for a building’s inhabitants.

Usually there are three solutions when faced with the breakdown of fiberglass insulation:

encapsulating, or


If the fiberglass has deteriorated to such a state that it can’t be fixed, replacement is the only solution. Sometimes, however, a good vacuum cleaning will remedy the situation.

If the insulation is compromised but not entirely destroyed, it’s possible that insulation can be encapsulated. Encapsulation is a process in which the fiberglass is spray coated with a sealant to lock down any fiberglass fibers from breaking free into the air flow of the ductwork system. An air quality professional will be able to determine which method is appropriate for your situation.

Compromised Coils and Cabinets

In some situations, HVAC coils and cabinets can corrode, causing damage to insulation in the ductwork. This can be prevented and repaired with the application of special coating products with little or no impact on the ductwork operation. Your air cleaning experts will be able to advise you on the best repair and preventive steps to take regarding coating these metal surfaces.