Thursday, February 13th by Charles Szaley
This time of year, we try to stay in the comfort of our properly heated homes. Being in the middle of the winter season, your heating systems have been running for some time, passing a massive amount of air that has been trapped in an enclosed space through it. Just by running, your HVAC and air ducts will accumulate dust and other debris that can be found in the air. But what about germs and other airborne pathogens?
When you enter your heated home, are you sneezing? Is your throat sore, making you cough? Have you noticed repeating headaches? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, you might have a problem. The most common issue is mold. The dust and moisture that usually builds in your HVAC ducts naturally support mold growth. Most people react to mold in the same way you would a pollen allergy, with the symptoms listed above. There are, however, types of mold that can cause more severe health issues, and there are also people that will react more violently to being exposed to mold than other people.
The flu and the common cold are caused by viruses. These viruses don’t usually live outside of a body for more than a few hours, making your heating system an unlikely living place for the flu or the cold. However, a heating system without any filtration or with old and dirty filters will do nothing but help spread viruses throughout your entire home.
Besides viruses and mold, there is also the threat of bacteria to consider. Dirty air conditioning, heating, and air duct systems will allow bacteria to grow. A prime example of this is Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that, while being rare, can be very dangerous. Most people exposed to the bacteria take time to manifest symptoms and those symptoms can be confused for allergies before developing into something more serious. A medical examination will be required for a proper diagnosis and antibiotics need to be taken in order to treat the illness.
If someone in your house is under the weather and that illness is airborne, your air ducts might as well be a freeway for these germs. To stop this from happening, high-quality filters need to be installed on your vents and regularly changed. This will not only stop your system from spreading the flu but also help clean the air in general, creating a healthier space in your home. Replacing your filters, along with clearing your air ducts of dust and debris, will help keep everyone in your home happy and healthy.