Six Things in Your Ducts that Can Make Your House Sick
Even homeowners with the most diligent cleaning routines or the best housekeeping contractors miss some of the nastiest stuff. Not because of careless, rushed work. It’s missed because it’s building up, out of sight in the airducts.
Here’s a list, not all-inclusive, of some of the contaminants that are unnoticed in a home until they cause problems because they lurk out of reach of a cleaning rag or upright vaccuum.
Pollen. The fact is, unless it’s nice out, we don’t think about pollen in the Midwest. However, the pollen from the warm weather is drawn through the ducts. The hayfever sufferer’s enemy is dispersed throughout your space by your HVAC system all year.
Pet Dander. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates one third of people have allergic reactions to the dander shed by dogs and cats. The dry skin flecks are easily sucked into the ducts, where it can accumulate. It can affect allergy suffers long after the pet is gone, which is especially important when you’re buying a new-to-you home: You don’t know what’s sitting in the ducts.
Dust Mites. Ewwww. But anywhere there is dust, there are mites. The American Lung Association says four of five homes have detectable levels of mites. They don’t bite or burrow. The part that makes them grosser than gross is that human allergies come from their fecal pellets and body fragments which lurk in dust and ducts.
VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds. Most of us don’t think much about VOCs. But they’re all around us. They’re gases that are given off by common household items like cleaning fluids and printers. Your HVAC system is circulating these VOCs through your ducts.
Bacteria and Viruses. Sick Building Syndrome happens when a person with an illness spreads the culprit through coughing or even breathing in an enclosed space. The air is circulated through the building. The microorganisms collect on the inner surfaces of the ducts. A blast from the furnace or AC, circulates them back through the house over and over.
Mold and Mildew. For at least two decades, heightened attention has been poured onto the problems caused by mold in homes. Remediation can be difficult and expensive… and when it’s done it releases the spores into the air, circulated through the ducts. Summer condensation trapped inside poorly serviced ducts also can provide a fertile breeding ground for the allergens.