A healthy HVAC system means that your home heating and air conditioning is pumping clean, high-quality air through clean ducts and providing you with breathable air to support healthy living. If it has been a while since you’ve had your residential HVAC system maintenanced or cleaned, you could be allowing poor quality air to circulate through dirty ducts and inhaled by your family. Here are just a few ways that your home HVAC system affects your family’s health.

Dirty ducts contribute to allergies and colds

When you turned your heater on for the first time this winter, did you smell burning dust? Most people accept that this is just what happens the first time you run the heater in a year, but all that dust has now been blown into your breathing air. Along with the burnt dust that you were able to smell, bacteria, pet fur, and other allergens can readily fall into air ducts where they are dispersed into your ventilation system and circulated throughout your house. This can produce allergies and illness, especially in infants, the elderly, and can aggravate asthma. If mold or mildew has grown in your ventilation system, it can make everyone who breathes the air incredibly sick.

To prevent ill health effects caused by dirty HVAC systems, be sure to conduct routine maintenance. Regularly thoroughly clean your furnace and air conditioner as well as your entire duct system. An experienced HVAC expert knows all the parts to clean, how to access them, and can make sure they are squeaky clean.

Carbon Monoxide

Many household appliances can produce carbon monoxide that can leak into the air around it and enter your home’s ventilation system. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed at calf level outlets —because carbon monoxide is heavier than air and doesn’t readily rise to reach smoke alarms— near gas dryers, furnace, water heater, space heater, fireplaces and charcoal grills. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is caused by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood, natural gas, gas, diesel, kerosene, coal, and charcoal. Carbon monoxide is lethal when inhaled by people or pets. Additionally, never let your car or lawn mower run in the garage without opening the overhead garage door and if you routinely leave your car running in the garage, install a carbon monoxide detector in the garage or near the garage door that enters the house.

A qualified HVAC technician can inspect your home heating system for cracks and breaks in the system that may contribute to carbon monoxide leaks. Best practice is conducting thorough routine inspections by an HVAC expert.

Circulation of secondhand smoke

A properly working residential HVAC system will effectively circulate air throughout your home. This is ideal for heating and cooling but can have its downsides when the air being circulated is not clean. It doesn’t matter how clean your furnace, air conditioner, and vents are if you smoke in the home and are circulating secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke, even brief exposure can be harmful to one’s health. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have more frequent ear infections and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. They are also at a greater risk of asthma and sudden unexpected infant death (formerly known as sudden infant death syndrome). In adults, secondhand smoke exposure causes heart disease, lung cancer, and strokes. The tar in cigarette smoke can build up on all the surfaces exposed to it, including walls and the inside of your air ducts. Your family can be exposed to secondhand smoke long after the cigarette has stopped burning.

There is little that any HVAC company can do to prevent the circulation of secondhand smoke if a household member is actively smoking in the home. However, if there is no longer active smoking in the home, an HVAC contractor can make sure your ducts and entire residential HVAC system are clean and circulating fresh, smoke-free, breathable air.

Long-term health effects

Years of constant exposure to poor indoor air quality can be similar to that of breathing city smog. Over time, more serious respiratory illness can begin to develop and can contribute to heart disease. Repeat respiratory illness can develop into long-term disease including sleep apnea. Poor air quality can manifest as chronic nasal congestion and nosebleeds. A common symptom of breathing dirty air long-term is chronic headaches suggested to be linked to depression.

To prevent the escalation of disease related to poor indoor air quality, intervene now! A qualified HVAC technician can clean your existing heating and cooling appliances along with your ducts, or replace old HVAC components that are posing health risks to you and your family.

Although this article may make you feel a little nervous about your home’s heating and cooling system function; take a deep breath, it is not too late to act! Call your local professional HVAC maintenance company in Salt Lake City, Service Mechanical Controls. You can breathe easy knowing that our licensed HVAC contractors are on the job. We take your air quality serious and will ensure you and your family are breathing the freshest air possible. To breathe even lighter, we offer residential HVAC maintenance plans for scheduled, year-round maintenance. Call for your free estimate today!