A clean and well serviced HVAC system can have a dramatic effect on your indoor comfort levels throughout the year. Regular professional servicing before the start of each heating and cooling system is the best way to get superior performance and energy efficiency. But, if the ductwork is dirty it can degrade the performance and efficiency and it can cause a number of health problems. In this article, we will take a look at the negative health consequences of dirty ductwork and how you can avoid these problems.
Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Many homes have poor IAQ, which can lead to a wide variety of health conditions. For many years, this phenomenon was referred to as “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) and it was a subject of a great deal of research. Although SBS seemed to be limited to commercial, industrial, and office buildings and other factors were involved, it’s now widely recognized as a real phenomenon. Companies that experienced SBS had poorer levels of attendance and more sick days when compared to those organizations that had healthier work environments. This is equally applicable to residential homes, albeit on a smaller scale than a large company with multiple employees. We hear a lot about air pollution, but studies have shown that many homes have air that’s more polluted than the air outdoors.
The Circulation of Poor Quality Air Lowers the IAQ
We need fresh air in our homes to improve our health and to help us breathe and sleep easily. The indoor air is circulated through the HVAC system multiple times throughout the day and that’s why you can find contaminants in the air filter. Our air contains many airborne contaminants including dust, debris, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and more. Increasing the fresh air in the home by opening windows when it’s cooler outdoors and regular home cleaning can help. Cleaning the air filter can improve the IAQ, but it’s no replacement for a dedicated air purification system. But, even if you install a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter the air can still be degraded. How? We rely on the ductwork to deliver the treated air (cool or warm) through the home. If the internal surfaces of the ductwork are dirty that is carried with the treated air when it comes out of the vents.
The Hidden Contents of Ductwork
The ductwork is a network of air carrying pipes and a great deal of the length may be hidden and inaccessible without professional HVAC cleaning tools. Vacuuming the vents or cleaning as far into the ductwork as you can reach will help. But, there are always areas that you cannot clean without professional ductwork cleaning. In the ductwork, there may be hidden pockets of moisture that are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and mold. The presence of these contaminants can trigger allergic reactions and make the air unhealthy. Certain vermin and pests like to make their homes in ductwork and if they are present their feces will be present too. If there are cracks in the ductwork, these are points where contaminants can enter and these will pollute the air.
4 Adverse Health Effects Caused by Dirty Ductwork
We’ve spoken briefly about the negative health consequences of dirty ductwork and poor IAQ. Let’s take a look at four common adverse health effects in more detail. They are:
1. Sinus Infections
When the HVAC system is running and the IAQ quality is poor, it will quickly spread contaminated air throughout the entire home. This can cause some people to experience nasal cavity problems. The contaminated air can cause inflammation and any existing sinus infections will become worse over time. Some typical symptoms may include a runny nose, sinus pressure, facial pain, and more.
2. Drowsiness and Fatigue
One of the lesser known side effects of poor IAQ is that it can cause drowsiness and feelings of fatigue. The air coming from the vents may be laced with bacteria, mold spores, pollen, and other airborne particulates. Dealing with these contaminants can be exhausting for your body and this is translated into tiredness. This can be checked by leaving your home. If you start to feel more energetic, it’s likely that the poor IAQ is making you feel exhausted.
3. Skin Allergies
The circulation of dust particles in the dirty air that’s coming from the vents can increase the level of allergens in your home. If anyone in the home is sensitive to dust, and debris and they have existing allergies, this poor IAQ could worsen their condition. Contaminated air has been linked to a wide variety of skin ailments, including rashes, hives, eczema, and more.
4. Respiratory Diseases
Breathing contaminated air will have an immediate or gradual effect on your health. Respiratory diseases can be caused by dirty indoor air and people with pre-existing respiratory issues will notice the effects before most of us. People that are not immunocompromised may notice certain health effects, including sinus issues, coughing, fevers, headaches, and more. More serious health problems can include pneumonia and bronchitis.
Improve Your Health with Regular Ductwork Cleaning
The best way to improve the IAQ is to adopt a proactive approach to reduce the volume of airborne pollutants. This may seem like a daunting task, but it will help to clear up health issues, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, eczema, fatigue, and more. When the indoor air is cleaner less dust is present and this even helps to keep the home cleaner for longer. Regular air filter cleaning can help, change the filters once per month and more often if there are pets in the home. Switching to a HEPA or higher MERV rated air filter may be possible in certain HVAC systems. Adding an air purification system is the ultimate investment in air quality and your local professional HVAC specialist can help. But, one of the most dramatic changes that makes an immediate impact is professional duct cleaning for your home.
If you want to schedule professional HVAC maintenance and duct cleaning for your home, contact your local HVAC company today.