Is Your HVAC System Making You Sick?

Your heating and air conditioning system is an important part of your home. Not only does it keep you comfortable and safe from extreme temperatures, it also helps move the air around your home and can even keep it fresh and clean. However, if your HVAC system isn't operating properly, it can cause some serious health problems. Here are some ways an improperly maintained heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system could be making you sick.

Mold spores

Dirty or damp air ducts can harbor mold spores that could make you and your family sick. From allergic reactions to more serious health problems, like pneumonia, these can all be caused by microscopic mold spores inside your ducts. When you switch on the air conditioner you spread these spores throughout your home where they are inhaled by people and pets. 

It can be difficult to tell if you have mold in your ducts, but preventing its growth is as simple as having your ducts professionally cleaned on a regular basis by your local HVAC contractor.

Dust, pollen, and other allergens

Mold isn't the only harmful allergy trigger that can be lurking in your HVAC system. Household dust, pollen from outside the home, and other common allergens like pet dander are all commonly present in your home's air, but your HVAC system's air filters should filter many of these out. However, dirty ducts and air filters can cause these airborne allergens to circulate throughout your home, triggering symptoms in those with allergies.

If anyone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, it's important to keep your HVAC ventilation system clear of these allergens. Poor indoor air quality can trigger breathing problems in even healthy adults, but babies, the elderly, and those with asthma are particularly susceptible to dust and other allergens. Regular cleaning of the ducts in your home is an effective way to keep these particles at bay, and regularly changing the air filters can also keep the air quality high in the home.

Carbon monoxide 

Your home's heating system produces carbon monoxide when fuel is burned. This doesn't just apply to fires in fireplaces; central heat and air units can release carbon monoxide into your home if the system's ventilation isn't functioning properly. You may not be aware of a carbon monoxide problem until it's too late and levels have built up to deadly proportions. However, some signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches 
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness

The key to keeping carbon monoxide under control is proper ventilation, so make sure you keep your HVAC ducts clear and properly maintained to keep the air quality in your home good.

Simple steps to improve air quality in your home

If you aren't sure whether your HVAC system is to blame, you can try some simple steps to help clear up the air in your home. 

  • Change every air filter regularly, or as soon as they begin to look dirty. This can help cut down on the dust that recirculates throughout your home.
  • Look for signs of damage on your ductwork, such as tears or damage from rodents. Small tears may be repaired with duct tape, but you probably want to let an HVAC specialist tackle more significant damage.
  • Keep windows and doors closed. It may be tempting to let in a cool breeze in order to save your AC unit some work, but this can pull in outdoor pollutants like pollen and dust, which can make the problem worse.

One of the easiest and best ways to keep your air quality good is to schedule regular maintenance and cleaning of your HVAC system. This can help improve your home's air quality and keep your family from getting sick because of dirty air.