A cough, persistent sniffles, and itchy eyes are symptoms many people associate with seasonal outdoor allergies. When the sneezing is happening more inside than out, it may be time to assess the air quality of the home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, air quality indoors can be two to five times worse than outdoors. While regularly checking HVAC system filters certainly helps, sometimes the situation calls for a thorough professional air duct cleaning.
Duct Cleaning Methods
Dirt, dust, and moisture can collect in an HVAC duct system and restrict proper airflow, as well as negatively affect the air people breathe. There are a number of methods HVAC professionals use to get in there and get the dirt out:
- Contact vacuuming: This method involves a portable vacuum with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration. There is direct contact between the brush head and the interior of the ductwork.
- Air Washing: This process works with a combination of compressed air and vacuum equipment to dislodge and remove dust and debris.
- Power brushing: Pneumatically or electronically-powered flexible rotation bristles loosen dirt and send it downstream into a vacuum-style collector.
Excessive contamination may require more steps to remedy the situation. The HVAC technician may find leaks that need to be repaired, or in some cases may recommend partial or complete replacement of duct work.
What Is In the Air?
Fresh filters, clean duct work and efficient HVAC equipment combine to ensure that the air quality within a home remains healthy. When these factors lose their integrity, the quality of the air may be compromised. Some examples of irritants are:
- Chemicals: Petroleum-based carpeting, paint, and laminate surfaces are capable of off-gassing. Houseplants help. You may also look for products with low-or-no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).
- Phthalates: These are sometimes found in household air fresheners. Essential oils may be a less toxic choice.
- Mold: Even in drier climates, mold may collect in condensation in old insulation or in AC drip pans.
- Dust mites: Reduced humidity inhibits dust mites. Running the AC in summer and using an electric blanket in winter may actually help keep the dust mites under control.
When the HVAC system is running cleanly and efficiently, the indoor environment is freer of the negative impact of these kinds of irritants.
It is important to stay on top of duct work in the potentially dirtier areas of the home, such as the basement. Leaks in duct work where there might be mold or considerable dust can result in the circulation of these contaminants throughout the equipment and into the rest of the house. Build-up of debris in the ducts can ultimately lead to poor performance of the entire system. If it has been a while since your ducts have seen any attention, call the professionals at Econo West Heating Air & Plumbing Heating Air & Plumbing, and breathe in the difference a good duct cleaning can make.