KNOWING ABOUT YOUR HVAC SYSTEM

Unfortunately, according the EPA, the reality is that indoor air is at least 70% more contaminated than outside air, and the American Lung Association estimates that the majority of people will spend 90% of their life span indoors. Have a hard time imagining how indoor air quality can be so poor? Many contaminants can hitch a ride into your home in a multitude of ways: on your clothes, on your pets, or even that fly that followed your kids inside before they closed the door. One of the biggest contributors to poor indoor air quality that people rarely consider, however, is their own HVAC system.
Picture your HVAC system like the lungs of your house – anything that gets sucked into the unit gets cycled through the air ducts and into your home. This means that any contaminants found in outdoor air can be brought into your system and can settle in places like your HVAC units and air ducts. Since your system recycles the air throughout your house up to 5-7 times a day, those contaminants will eventually find their way into every room and onto every surface in your home.​​​​
 

An Added Bonus: Improving Air Quality Is Cost-Effective. According to the US Department of Energy, 25-40% of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted. Contaminants in the HVAC system can build up over time and cause it to work harder, which shortens the life of your system. In a typical home, up to 40 pounds of dust can be created annually through normal every day activity, in addition to contaminants that can be nurtured through minor issues that you may not even be aware of within your system. When your HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain desired temperatures, and as a result, less energy is used which prolongs the life of your system – and lowers your energy bills.

HOW IS THE AIR QUALITY IN YOUR HOME?

POLLEN

Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the microgametophytes of seed plants, and most pollens that cause allergies come from anemophilous plants, whose pollen is lightweight and easily dispersed by air currents. Some common examples of these types of pollens are ragweed, oak, pecan, birch, summer grasses, elm and cedar. There are a wide variety of symptoms that can indicate a pollen allergy. Some of these symptoms include, but are not limited to, sneezing, watery eyes, congestion, coughing, runny nose, itchy throat, nausea, eczema or hives, fatigue, irritability, sinus pressure or even a decreased sense of taste or smell.

DUST

Though it’s doubtful anyone really needs a definition of this since it is the bane of households everywhere, basically dust is the disintegration of matter, such as hair, skin, fibers, soil, plants and any other materials found in the environment into fine, dry particles. The main concern with dust for those who suffer from allergies and asthma are dust mites, tiny bugs that are close relatives of ticks and spiders that live in house dust. Dust mites feed on skin cells shed by people and thrive in warm, humid environments.

There are two main species of dust mites: American and European. Often, those with dust mite allergies also experience signs of asthma, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing. There are at least 15 dust mite allergens, and studies have estimated that as many as 1.2 billion people could have some form of chronic sensitization to dust mites.

BACTERIA

Bacteria are tiny one-celled organisms that were among the first life forms to appear on the earth, and they are pretty much everywhere, all the time. Thankfully, most bacteria is harmless to us – less than 1% of the different types of bacteria actually make people sick.

Unfortunately for us, however, some of the harmful bacteria, such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, E. Coli and Candida, are common household bacteria and can live on any surface in the home. Bacterial infections present in many different ways, but some common indications are food poisoning, strep throat, abscesses, infected wounds, sinus infections and gastritis.

MOLD

Molds are fungi and can be found nearly everywhere in the natural world. While they have an important job to play in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves or dead trees, mold growth indoors can be dangerous to your health and destructive to your home.

Mold requires 4 conditions to be met in order to grow and prosper:

1. Spores – These are found everywhere in nature and can enter your house through vents, open windows, on pets or even on your skin.

2. Nutrients – Mold can use almost any carbon-based organic material for nutrients; meaning anything from wood to pet dander to generic dust that general every day activity can produce.

3. Proper Temperature – Unfortunately, mold prefers the same kind of temperatures we do; not too hot and not too cold, so our homes provide a great environment for mold to prosper.

4. Moisture – Areas with heavy humidity, leaks or any kind of water damage are all potential breeding grounds for mold.

The very same properties that make mold important in its natural environment can ultimately cause damage to the structure of your home, the internal systems that keep your home functioning comfortably and your personal possessions. More importantly, it also carries serious health risks to your household. Many people are either allergic or sensitive to molds, and some molds release mycotoxins, which are poisonous.

Molds also aggravate those who have autoimmune disorders, and they can trigger symptoms in people who have respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD. The Institute of Medicine has even found suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy individuals, as well as the development of asthma in children.

PET DANDER

Pet Dander is composed of tiny flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals that have fur or feathers. Twice as many people report allergies to cats when compared to dogs or other pets, but nearly any pet has the ability to contribute to pet dander allergies. Common symptoms of pet dander allergies include congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, itching, watery eyes and eczema or rash.


How to care for your HVAC system as warmer weather arrives

When summer arrives this year, you want to be prepared to enjoy the warmer temperatures and longer days. If you take the time and schedule a routine check up and add simple home enhancements to help your air conditioner, you can keep your HVAC unit running more efficiently. This easy tip can keep the cool air flowing and your family feeling comfortable, no matter how high the temperature rises outside in the hot summer days. Doing that can also lead to more money savings throughout the rest of the year–who doesn’t love that?