What most people take for granted, may be worth exploring in more detail. I am talking about how healthy the air in your home may or may not be. The EPA shows us that the air inside most homes is at least ten times as polluted as the air outside. Because homes are designed to be relatively closed off to the outside air, pollutants tend to congregate inside. Unlike the Commercial Air Conditioning field, the Residential Air Conditioning industry does not require a fresh-air return. So, having no fresh outside air being brought inside the home via the Air Conditioning system can enhance negative air quality.
The list of pollutants that can be found inside your home includes dust, pollen, fungi, mold, mildew, viruses, dust mites, CO2, Radon, and even gas emitting household cleaners (formaldehyde). After these agents circulate through your AC system, they are inhaled by the occupants. These pollutants are known to cause or facilitate sneezing, allergic reactions and outbreaks, flu, colds, headaches, ear eye and throat irritations, etc.. These pollutants can come from various sources, and can be hard to identify.
Simply keeping your house clean is not a guarantee that the air inside your home is healthy. Some of the contributing factors to dirty indoor air are dirty air conditioners, kitchens without vents or windows, bathrooms without vents or windows, dogs or cats, unventilated attics, un-vented dryers, carpets on damp basement floors, water leaks or damage, closets on outside walls, dirty refrigerator drip pans, and more. If any of these conditions are present in your home, you may want to remedy them ASAP.
Air ducts are often forgotten about, and are rarely considered when maintenancing Air Conditioning systems. Most of the time, the air ducts are not dusty or moldy enough to cause issues. However, a simple inspection can determine if your air ducts need cleaning. Mold can be carried in the air, so if your air ducts are moldy, you may have mold in your Air Handler as well.
The reverse is also true. If you find mold in your Air Handler, you may have moldy air ducts as well. A solution to this problem is to install an Ultraviolet Air Purification system. Although you want to fix the underlying moisture problem along with this remedy.
Some other things one can do to help curb dirty air ducts is to clean the Registers (Grills) often. Have your Air Conditioning technician clean the inside of your Air Handler, and the inside of the Supply Plenum. The insides of the ducts can be cleaned in a multi-phase procedure which includes removing the pollutants and sanitizing the surfaces. I would recommend calling professionals duct cleaners as this requires special equipment and chemicals to do the job right.
While changing your air filters monthly or sooner is a step in the right direction, the quality of air filter has a detrimental impact on how clean the air is inside the home. Your standard cardboard-border air filter we buy at our local home improvement store is the bare minimum in air filter technology. These filters will filter out most of the large particles from the air, but leaves the smaller particles which cause the most respiratory issues. Filtering out the large particles will help your Evaporator Coil, but will have little effect on micro-organisms and mold spores etc.. For this we need higher quality filtration systems which are able to remove particles measured in microns. These particles pose the greatest threat to our health.
HEPA and Electronic air filters along with UV light purification is the recommended set-up to have in order to improve indoor air quality. But first, we recommend getting a thorough inspection by a reputable HVAC company who specializes in Indoor Air Quality. And remember, if they find issues with mold or other pollutants, make sure they can tell you how to fix the cause of the pollutant. Simply installing a UV light system does not fix the initial moisture problem causing the mold, even though it will kill off any mold it comes in contact with.
This is a serious health issue which is commonly overlooked. If you are experiencing problem with respiratory ailments and can’t seem to figure out why, it could be an air quality issue. These issues can lead to further health complications, and are worth looking into. Call your local Indoor Air Quality expert and see if you need an inspection, you may breathe easier afterwards.