If giving a warm welcome to cooler weather and festive times with family and friends means turning up the heat in your house, there’s something you should know: You may need to clean your home’s air ducts. Air ducts and ventilation systems can get stuffed with dust, pet hair and other contaminants that get blown through your house when you kick on the furnace for the first time in the fall. Whether you notice a burning smell when the heat turns on or experience an increase in allergy symptoms, dirty air ducts may be to blame.
The debris that builds up in your home’s air ducts throughout the year can foster mold and bacteria growth, and even invite vermin into your home. Homes exposed to extreme weather conditions (like this year’s record-breaking hurricanes or the heat and ash from wildfires) are particularly at risk of developing hazardous mold and bacteria. However, extreme weather isn’t the only thing that can dirty your ductwork. Even homes in regions that are going through the normal seasonal changes see a build-up of allergen-producing spring pollen or mold caused by a humid summer. Daily living with pets and people coming in and out of a home can introduce pet hair and dirt into your home’s air ducts, causing allergic reactions when air starts flowing through the ducts and blowing the dirt through the home.
And now, with flu season on the horizon, it’s especially important to ensure the air in your home is free of common irritants that can worsen symptoms or even cause illnesses. Older people, young children and anyone with asthma or other respiratory diseases are all especially susceptible to illnesses caused by impurities in the air.
The good news is that having the ducts cleaned can save you money on energy costs in the long term. Research by the EPA has demonstrated that air duct cleaning and removing debris from your home’s heating and air conditioning system can improve efficiency and the overall quality of indoor air. And, if your health wasn’t reason enough to get your air ducts cleaned this fall, clean, efficient HVAC systems are less likely to break down and will have a longer lifespan and generally operate more effectively, saving you money and the hassle of dealing with a broken-down
To many of us, our pets are equal members of the family. But even though we adore Fido and Bella, the shedding and constant vacuuming can become a daily nuisance, especially for those with pet-related allergies. Sure, the fur clinging to your favorite pair of black pants may be annoying, but did you know the pet dander circulating throughout your home may be causing bigger problems and even affecting your family’s health?
What Exactly is Pet Dander?
According to the American Lung Association, pet dander is made up of microscopic flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals with fur or feathers. Because of their tiny size and jagged shape, these allergens easily stick to furniture, bedding, fabrics, and many items carried into and out of the home.
How Does Pet Dander Affect Health?
For those with allergies or asthma triggered by pet allergens, breathing in pet dander can make respiratory symptoms worse. Even though sensitivity levels may vary from person to person, individuals who experience reactions may have symptoms including:
How to Combat Pet Dander
Even though you love your pet, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your family’s health or comfort. So how do you deal with pet dander? Here are a few methods you can add to your weekly cleaning routine to lessen the presence of pet-related allergens in your home:
How Air Duct Cleaning Can Help
Did you know that the air in a home—along with those pesky pet allergens—typically circulates through the HVAC system and air ducts 5 to 7 times a day? During the circulation process, it’s also common for allergens and other airborne contaminants to settle in the air ducts. Eliminating pet dander from your home entirely can be a nearly impossible task, but by having your air ducts properly cleaned, you lessen the opportunity for dander to accumulate and be redistributed back into the air you and your family breathe.
So, who can you turn to for your air duct cleaning needs? It’s important to be aware of deals that seem too good to be true. These companies, known as “blow-and-go” or “bait and switch” air duct cleaners, often advertise a drastically discounted rate and then convince customers that the job will require additional cleaning, leaving the unsuspecting homeowner with a hefty bill and poorly cleaned air ducts. To make sure the job is done right, use the Find a Professional tool on the NADCA website to locate a reputable air duct cleaning company in your area. NADCA members have advanced training and follow a higher standard of customer service and cleaning.
Ready to take the next step towards reducing pet dander in your home?
As a homeowner, it’s important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of mold presence. Undetected or ignored mold growth can turn into a serious issue, not only for the structure of your home but for the health of those living under its roof. Reduce your risk by knowing the signs of mold to keep your home and family healthy.
Signs of Mold
Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. If any of these signs appear in your home, it may be an indicator that mold is lurking somewhere nearby.
Although mold and its spores are everywhere, active mold growth requires moisture. Whether on visible surfaces or hiding behind drywall, in attics, or under carpets, indoor mold grows in the presence of excessive dampness or water.
2.) Humidity and Condensation
Humidity or water vapor in the air can sometimes supply enough moisture for mold to thrive and grow. If your home feels humid, or you notice an abundance of condensation, that is a prime environment for mold. The EPA recommends that indoor relative humidity should be kept below 60 percent, ideally between 30 percent and 50 percent, if possible. Use a hygrometer to easily measure humidity and if your home is outside the ideal range, there are several steps you can take to get that moisture under control:
Is there a strange, earthy smell in your home that won’t go away, no matter how much air freshener you spray? Mold may be at the root of the issue. Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs) are gases produced by mold. The musty odor that you smell from mold is caused by MVOCs. These odors are chemicals that are produced by molds during parts of the mold's growth cycle.
4.) Health problems
Mold allergy symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies. Mold triggered allergy symptoms include:
How to Prevent Mold Growth
Knowing the signs of mold in your home is important, but what if you can prevent the growth of mold altogether? Here are just a few things you can do to stop mold in its tracks:
In general, prevention is key when it comes to dealing with mold. Along with running a dehumidifier and increasing the airflow within your home, consider scheduling an air duct inspection and cleaning to help ensure no mold is hidden in your home’s ductwork.
Improving energy efficiency is a priority for many homeowners—it helps reduce monthly bills and benefits the environment. By making small changes in your daily living, you can experience the benefits of:
How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
Are you looking for ways to cut down on your energy consumption and reduce energy-related costs? Here are a few ways you can make your home more energy efficient:
How Air Duct Cleaning Can Help Energy Efficiency
So how does air duct cleaning help energy efficiency exactly?
While making the home more energy efficient, many homeowners often overlook one of the biggest sources of energy, the HVAC system. Your home’s source of heat and air is the lungs of your house, taking air in and breathing it back out through a series of air duct pathways. As your home goes through the seasons, dirt, dust, pet dander and more contaminants build up in your system’s air ducts, making it harder for the unit to reach that desired comfort level. As a result, more energy is required to function which adds to your energy bill.
Maintaining your HVAC system doesn’t just help you cut back on your energy costs, it also helps avoid expensive repairs and replacements in the future. The harder your system works to circulate air throughout your home, the more likely it will break down from overuse.
Even with regular air filter changes, your air ducts will need to be cleaned to ensure maximum efficiency in the long run.