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Clean Your Indoor Air By Cleaning Your HVAC System
While a good tight seal is very important to staying warm and keeping your energy bill in check, it also can really have an impact on indoor air quality.
"When you flip that switch on your heater, there is a lot of dust and debris - collected in the coils over the summer months - that either burns into fumes or gushes into the house through your vents," says Aaron Marshbanks, board member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA).
In addition, your heating system blends warm temperatures with air that can be moist, and which can be a haven for mold and mildew. Throw a fan on top of that, and the air quality inside your home can quickly plummet.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. The removal of such contaminants from your HVAC system is crucial to improve indoor air quality. Plus, a clean system can save you money on your energy bill.
Further research from the EPA found that HVAC system cleaning may allow systems to run more efficiently by removing debris from sensitive mechanical components. Clean, efficient systems are less likely to break down, have a longer life span, and generally operate more effectively than dirty systems.
"Heating and cooling uses up about half of the energy in your home," says Marshbanks. "But having a clean HVAC system can save you up to 30 percent in energy costs. Which means you have better air inside the house, and are helping the environment with an extra bit of cash in your pocket at the same time."
The top issues that affect a home's HVAC system, its efficiency and air quality are:
1. Filtration - Low-efficiency filters, lack of a filter replacement program and improperly sized filters can allow particles and debris to flow into a home or building.
2. Duct work contamination - It is estimated that about 90 percent of HVAC systems more than 10 years old will have some level of insulation deterioration. Over time, the insulation fibers are distributed and blown into occupied spaces every time the blower turns on.
3. Dirty evaporator coil - Over time, evaporator coils become matted with dust and dirt. During cold months, the heated air can flow over the dirty coils and be distributed into your home's interior space.
The best way to determine if your HVAC system is clean is to perform a visual inspection. If any dust or debris can be seen, the system needs to be serviced. Some of the things that may lead a home owner to consider more frequent cleaning include:
* Smokers in the household.
* Pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander.
* Water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system.
* Residents with allergies or asthma.
* Home renovations or remodeling.
The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ source removal methods of cleaning. This requires a contractor to place the system under negative pressure through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum.
NADCA has published an internationally recognized standard that specifies requirements for proper cleaning. NADCA is a widely recognized nonprofit trade organization representing certified contractors worldwide that sets standards and provides certification and training for the industry. For more information about HVAC cleaning and to find a certified and knowledgeable contractor, visit www.NADCA.com.
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