Let’s face it: People are dirty, dusty creatures. A typical six-room home can gather up to 40 pounds of dust each year. Forty pounds. And of that forty pounds of dust, imagine how much of it ends up in your lungs? I don’t know about you, but that’s something I’d rather not think about.
Instead, let’s consider a thorough air duct cleaning, its importance, and its benefits.
Why should I have my air ducts cleaned?
Forty pounds of dust, that’s why.
Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system circulates the same air through your home a half-dozen times daily — air that has been shown to be as much as five times more polluted than the air outside.
“That’s what filters are for.” Right? Right, but only to an extent.
Filters rid the air of only ten percent of the most common air pollutants, leaving 90 percent to settle on surfaces, in lungs, and yes, in air ducts, too. Such pollutants include dust, pollen, pet dander, and even mold. We’re talking about mold. Mold that loves dark, moist environments; mold that can release spores and dangerous toxins into the air.
How does mold grow, and what problems can it cause?
If I were mold, an air duct would seem like a cozy incubator. Mold needs stable temperatures in which to grow; that’s the purpose of a furnace: Check. Mold needs a food source; ninety percent of dust and dirt sail through air filters, and make for a yummy dinner: Check. Mold needs moisture; it’ll find plenty of condensation in air ducts: Check, check, and triple check.
Live mold releases spores, and live mold spores are known to cause sometimes-severe allergy or asthma-related attacks. And worse, long-term exposure to mold can result in long-term chemical sensitivity and health issues.
Can dirty air ducts result in higher energy bills?
Yes. According to the US Department of Energy, 25 to 40 percent of that used to heat the average American home is wasted. Dust, pet dander, and mold find their way into your heating system, and thus cause it to work harder (and less efficiently) than it should.
How often should I have my air ducts cleaned?
Your heating system should be inspected by a certified HVAC technician (from Air Handlers OBX, of course) annually; your air ducts should be cleaned once every three to five years — or more often as needed.