Is Your HVAC System Making You Sick?
If you suffer from congestion, headaches, fatigue, or other problems during the warmer months, you might initially chalk the problem up to allergies or a cold. But if your symptoms dont go away after a reasonable amount of time, or dont respond to any remedies, the problem might be something more than you think.
Back in the late 1970s, the idea of a sick building started to become more well known. With the advent of air conditioning, buildings became more climate-controlled, but reports of illness also began increasing. More and more people began reporting symptoms similar to those mentioned, but also seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as skin issues. Upon more research, one of the culprits appears to be contaminated HVAC systems, in particular, air conditioning units.
How HVAC Can Make You Sick
Most of the health issues related to HVAC systems are related to maintenance, more specifically, poor or nonexistent maintenance. Some of the most common issues include:
Dirty ducts. The heated and cooled air travels through your HVAC systems ducts, circulating several times per day. However, the ducts also collect dust, pet dander, pollen, and other contaminants, meaning that the air you breathe isnt always fresh not to mention, your system may not work as efficiently as possible.
Clogged filters. A dirty or clogged filter on your HVAC unit can also reduce efficiency while contaminating the air coming into your home. When the filter gets clogged, it doesnt do its job well anymore, and more contaminants enter your home.
Leaks. Its less common, but if your HVAC system used natural gas or oil for heat and has a leak, it can create harmful carbon monoxide that can be harmful or fatal.
Mold and fungus buildup. Some experts believe that when the condensation and moisture created by the cooling process isnt properly channeled, it fosters the growth of mold and fungus in the HVAC system, which could be making people sick.
Poor Ventilation. If your HVAC system isnt well maintained, the ventilation an suffer, creating a buildup of ground level ozone. Ground level ozone can lead to respiratory discomfort among other issues, underscoring the importance of proper ventilation.
All of these problems can be traced back to one major problem: Poor HVAC maintenance. Thats why its vital to work with Miami HVAC contractors to properly install and maintain your system to keep your family healthy and safe.
How Maintenance Can Help
Regular maintenance of your HVAC system will ensure that your system remains running efficiently and reduce the health risks associated with dirty or contaminated systems. Maintenance will also help identify issues like poor drainage that create mold and fungus issues, and address them before they become a serious problem.
In general, an HVAC maintenance call will look at both the outside (condenser) and inside (evaporator) components of the system. A technician will check for leaks, clogs, mold growth, and other issues that will affect operation of the system, and clean and repair as necessary. In most cases, this service includes a filter change; however, depending on the type of filter you have and your unit specifications, you may need to change the filters indoors more often, usually every few months.
Some HVAC service visits will include an inspection and cleaning of the ducts, but not all do, so ask. In most homes, the ducts only need to be professionally cleaned every 3-5 years, but if you have pets, or there is an obvious problem with the ductwork (like you see dirt and debris coming out of the vents) you may need to have them cleaned more often. If you or anyone in your home is constantly sick, its a good idea to have the ducts cleaned and the HVAC system serviced to eliminate that as a possible cause. That being said, if you keep up with the prescribed maintenance on your HVAC system, you shouldnt have any problems and you can stick to the typical 3-5 year cleaning schedule.
Failing to maintain your HVAC system can not only cost you money in increased heating and cooling costs, but it can also make you sick. Even if youve never has an issue, take care of this important chore to prevent any unnecessary illness, and keep your home healthy.