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By Kirya Duncan
The majority of problems with indoor air is caused by dirty air conditioning ducts. HVAC systems are common in homes and provide air conditioning year-round. Air is circulated through the ductwork providing cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter. Over time, this ductwork become a nesting ground for all type of debris, bacteria, and microbes. These bacteria and microbes are known to be harmful to humans, especially to those who suffer with upper respiratory problems such as asthma or allergy suffers. Even people considered to be perfectly healthy can suffer illnesses due to dirty ducts. So, it is important to have your ducts cleaned as often as needed depending on your HVAC usage, the occupants, and flooring.
How do ducts become dirty?
Before you ever move into your newly constructed home you may already have dust and debris collected in your ducts. During construction, especially in the summer, contractors would likely run the air-conditioning to keep cool while hanging drywall, trim detail, etc. Cutting drywall and wood trim release dust particles in the atmosphere which will likely find its way into the return vent of the HVAC system. This air is then force through the cooling system pushing dirty air back into the home while leaving particles in the duckwork along the way. Ducts also accumulate dirt from its occupants. In fact, dead human skin make up most of the dust and debris found in dirty ducts. If your home has a large amount of carpet, trapped dirt and other particles contribute to this collection as well. Also, pets such as dogs and cats shed hair and dander which also adds to the build-up of bacteria in your ducts. These are certainly not the only ways that lead to your ductwork becoming dirty, but they are the most common.
Signs that you may have dirty ducts
You might have dirty ducts if you find yourself cleaning the filter of your HVAC system more than once a month. On average cleaning you filter once a month is standard. However, if you find a large collection of dirt on the filter at each cleaning, chances are good that you ducts are really dirty. If your furniture needs dusting frequently, chances are good that you have dirty ducts. If you notice that you have respiratory issues or sinus headaches at home but feel better when you are away from your home, you might have dirty ducts. Excessive dust on registers, walls, and floors or air odors that want go away with regular cleaning are also tale-tell signs. The key is knowing what to look for.
The impact of dirty ducts on your health and the Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning system (HVAC)
As discussed in the aforementioned, dirty ductwork can lead to many respiratory issues. Failure to recognize this issue can lead to many other health problems costing you a healthy quality of life and untold amounts of money on doctor visits. If that isn’t bad enough, it can also have an impact on the life of your heating and cooling system. The constant circulation of dirty air being force through the system causes it to work harder; thereby, increasing your energy bill and damaging your unit at the same time. The overall impact shortens the life of your HVAC system which will cost you more money because you will have to replace the system.
How should ducts be cleaned and how often?
Ducts are important to air conditioning system. When they are left to collect dust and debris, they can lead to sickness or make an existing medical condition worse. Scheduling periodic cleanings for your air-conditioning ducts is vital to ensure that they stay clean. It is recommended that you have your ducts cleaned regularly between 5 to 7 years depending on your household. If you have carpet and own pets you may consider a 5 year schedule as dirt may collect faster with these added factors. Hiring a company that specialize in HVAC installation, maintenance, or duct cleaning is the best solution to having a complete cleaning of ducts. A qualified company will clean and visually inspect all of the air ducts and related system components to ensure cleanliness. Prices can vary from a $100 up to $400 or more. This all depends on how many units you have and how large your home is. In special cases, it is advisable to have your ducts cleaned after home renovations or remodeling and prior to occupancy of a new home. In the end, you will protect you health and your wallet.
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