Take steps to improve your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) and boost the efficiency of your HVAC system. Most homes do not have exposed ductwork. These hidden tunnels play a big role in the level of clean air you and your family breathe every day and while you sleep. If anyone in your home suffers from respiratory issues or a compromised immune system, this is important to read.
Keep the HVAC Air Filter Clean
A considerable amount of air blows through the ductwork after passing through the air handler. At a minimum, check the air filter each month and replace it when it’s dirty. The filter not only keeps airborne particulates out of the air handler, but it also reduces the amount in the ductwork and consequently, your home’s air. Keeping the filter clean promotes better IAQ.
Manage Indoor Dust
Surprisingly, most dust in your home comes from inside it, not from the outdoors. Microscopic lint particles, shed skin cells, dust mites and their waste, pollen and pet dander are primary components of household dust. These particles are also common allergy triggers.
Vacuuming the furniture, floors and window coverings is the best approach to preventing dirty ductwork. If one is available for your vacuum, use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to trap the smallest particles inside. Use a damp cloth to avoid stirring up the dust. Vacuum floors to remove more particles than sweeping.
Pay Attention to Return Ducts
Return ducts pull the air back into the HVAC system, condition it, and then send it back for distribution to the rooms via supply ducts. If you notice a return duct next to a humid area, like the kitchen or bathroom, stay vigilant about mold growth. These humid areas are particularly susceptible to mold, and as it reproduces, it sends out minute spores that can enter the ductwork.
Ducts provide a hospitable environment for mold growth; there it can thrive undisturbed. As it grows, it will send even more spores throughout your home. Mold also grows on anything organic and can rot wood, fabric and carpets indoors should it get a foothold.
During the summer, mold can also grow on the coil inside the HVAC system’s air handler. When the air conditioner runs, it condenses excess humidity from the air on the evaporator coil. If mold spores are present, the mold can quickly grow on the coil, degrading IAQ and reducing the efficiency of the A/C. A coil covered in dust or mold is far less efficient at removing heat from the air.
Ultraviolet (UV) lights in the ductwork or air handler can prevent mold growth and stop the proliferation of bacteria and viruses. UV light destroys their ability to reproduce and are an easy and cost effective way for keeping ducts clean and improving IAQ.
Protect When Remodeling
Preventing dirty ductwork during remodeling will keep the ducts and your home’s air cleaner. Any kind of remodeling kicks up a lot of dust, so it’s a good idea to shut off the supply and return registers in the renovation area. Cover them with plastic and tape them to the adjoining surface using painter’s or masking tape.
Hanging a plastic sheet over open doorways will prevent the dust in the area under construction from circulating through the rest of the house. It’s also a good idea to change the air filter before you start and once again the project is over. You may want to ask your HVAC contractor to clean the entire HVAC system when you finish.
Clean New Ductwork
If your remodeling project involved installing new ducts or you’re building a new home, verify with the HVAC contractor that the ductwork will be cleaned before completing the installation process. Some new ducting materials, especially metal, have an oily finish that can attract dust and dirt if the film isn’t removed.
Schedule Ductwork Inspections
Depending on the particulate load in your home, schedule a ductwork inspection periodically. Homes with pets, smokers or carpet tend to have higher dust loads, so preventing dirty ductwork requires more diligent attention. A licensed HVAC contractor can inspect and clean the ducts. Besides reducing health risks associated with dirty ducts, the inspection can turn up leaks in the ducts that increase heating and cooling bills.
For more information about preventing dirty ductwork, or for other HVAC issues, contact Goose Creek Heating & Air. We’ve proudly provided exceptional HVAC services to Charleston, Goose Creek and Awendaw homeowners since 1993.