Think of your home's ductwork as its respiratory system. Just as large quantities of dust and debris can cause breathing issues in human beings, dust can cause problems for your home's ventilation and air conditioning. Dust can clog up blower fan motors, constrict airflow through ducts and even trigger allergy and asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals. It's no wonder that prevention is the best policy when it comes to duct contamination.
An Ounce of Preventive Maintenance
Preventative maintenance at the hands of a licensed and skilled HVAC technician is the best way to ensure a dust-free environment. Your technician will take a look at every facet of your heating and cooling system, checking not just for dust or mold contamination, but also for any mechanical issues that could lead to future issues.
Ideally, your technician should be on the lookout for any rips and tears caused by age, physical damage or corrosion. Rips, tears and gaps should be sealed up with mastic sealant or metal tape, while loose connections should be properly reconnected and tightened as needed. If the ducts are corroded or damaged beyond repair, count on a new section of duct being fitted in its place.
It's a good idea to have preventative maintenance performed on your HVAC system during the spring and fall, so it'll be ready to roll come summer and winter.
Good Housekeeping Equals Clean Ducts
Leaving that thin film of dust alone or putting off vacuuming can have a tremendous impact on your duct system's cleanliness. Ordinary household activities can create dust, dirt and a host of other undesirable airborne particles that eventually find their way into the ducts.
Regular vacuuming, dusting and other housekeeping activities go a long way towards preventing duct contamination.
- Use a static duster instead of merely sweeping away dust. True to their name, static dusters use an electrostatic charge to attract and capture dust.
- Invest in a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. HEPA filtration traps large amounts of fine airborne particles that would otherwise recirculate back into your home's indoor air.
- If you have pillows, cushions or area rugs, give them a few good whacks outdoors with a sturdy carpet beater. Make sure to do this well away from your home to prevent dust from sneaking back inside.
- Consider upgrading your HVAC system's air filter. Switching from a cheap yet marginally effective fiberglass filter to a pleated paper filter can help improve your home's indoor air quality and prevent dust infiltration into the HVAC system itself. Don't forget to change your air filter at least once every 30 days.
Home Renovation Requires Duct Protection
Knocking down walls, cutting drywall sheets and other renovation activities can create a whirlwind of dust and debris. If you're not careful, some of this dust can easily find its way into the duct system. It's easy to prevent this problem with the right proactive steps:
- Refrain from operating your HVAC system during renovation. This is a sure-fire way to circulate dust and debris into the system.
- Use thick plastic sheeting and painter's tape to block off air registers and return vents.
- Inspect the ducts for any gaps or tears, which should be fixed immediately. Disconnected vents should either be reconnected or blocked off to prevent dust contamination.
Dealing with New Ductwork
New ducts aren't immune to the perils of contamination. Brand-new ductwork often has a light coating of oil to ward off premature rust and corrosion. However, this coating also attracts dust and debris, making it difficult to keep the ducts clean.
New ducts should be inspected and, if necessary, cleaned prior to being connected to the HVAC system. Combined with regular ductwork inspections, this should help keep your home's ducts dust-free for years to come.
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