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February is National Care About Your Indoor Air Month. Over the last several decades concern over indoor air quality has grown and with good reason. On average, Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors where, according to the EPA, the air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.
Why you should care about your indoor air quality
Through everyday activities, we generate plenty of contaminants. Things like burning candles, spraying hair spray, and using cleaning products can negatively impact your indoor air quality. Over time these contaminants, plus dust, dirt, and pet dander, can build up inside your air ducts where they can be recirculated through the air 5 – 7 times per day. Even though these particles are small - some so small they can’t be seen by the naked eye - they may still pose major health risks. Common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, headaches, difficulty breathing, and irritated eyes, nose, and throat. Depending on the type of pollutants and a person’s sensitivity, symptoms can be more severe or long-term.
NADCA, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, offers tips to homeowners on air duct cleaning and maintenance as a way to improve indoor air quality. Since air ducts are often hidden behind walls or ceilings, they’re easily overlooked. Not only do dirty ducts impact your family’s health, they may also negatively affect your home’s heating and cooling system.
How you can improve your home’s indoor air quality
1. Clean your air ducts
When a home’s air ducts are dirty, contaminants are recirculated throughout the home multiple times a day. For those with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems, as well as young children and seniors, this can cause health problems. Along with the common health effects of poor indoor air quality mentioned above, long-term or chronic health issues include damage to the heart, liver, or kidneys.
By reducing the number of airborne pollutants in your home with air duct cleaning, you can improve your indoor air quality. Air duct cleaning offers several other benefits including:
Improved energy efficiency
Buildup in your ducts can create resistance for airflow. This leads to decreased efficiency, higher energy costs, and an overworked system. Air duct cleaning improves airflow throughout the duct system resulting in greater efficiency and lower energy bills.
System lifespan extended
Accumulation of dirt and dust in your home’s air ducts can strain the heating and cooling system making it harder to maintain the temperature you desire. This additional work can cause damage and shorten the lifespan of your equipment.
Decreased allergy and asthma symptoms
Poor indoor air quality can increase symptoms for those with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems, but anyone can be affected. When your HVAC system blows air through dirty and dusty ducts, you end up with airborne dirt and dust in your home. Having your air ducts cleaned can reduce allergy and asthma symptoms by removing dirt, dust, allergens, and other triggers from the air you breathe inside your home.
2. Change your air filters. Change air filters to improve indoor air quality. Changing the air filter in your system ensures cleaner, healthier air. When a filter is clogged, it can no longer trap particles, leaving them to be recirculated throughout your home where they can be inhaled by your family members. Like air duct cleaning, changing your filter has many additional benefits in addition to improving your indoor air quality. Clogged and dirty filters can also cause damage to your system by making it work harder to force air through. When you change your filters regularly, you can improve the cost of running your heating and air conditioning unit.
3. Hire a NADCA member
Any time you embark on a home improvement project you may have concerns about hiring a legitimate contractor to get the job done right. When it comes to air duct cleaning, always be sure to hire a NADCA member company for the job as there are many scammers in the industry that offer low priced “blow-and-go” services. These companies do a poor job of cleaning heating and cooling systems leaving your indoor air quality at risk. Being a NADCA member means promoting higher standards and quality of work. NADCA’s Find a Professional feature makes it easy for homeowners to verify if the contractor they selected is certified by NADCA, or not. Protect your indoor air quality by scheduling an appointment with your local NADCA-certified contractor. ACR, the NADCA Standard 2021 Edition Now Available!
ACR, the NADCA Standard is a benchmark for best practices that customers have come to rely on. This comprehensive standard is specified for commercial projects worldwide, as well as by residential consumers.