Every day when we step outside our home, we face various types of risks that could affect our health and wellbeing. With everything from driving your car to climbing mountains you are putting your body through various rigors, exposing it to all kinds of elements and toxins, and pushing yourself to the limit in any number of circumstances (even if you don’t consider them dangerous).
We’ve all heard of and talked about pollution. We all know how dangerous it is and how much impact it is having on the environment outside. But have you ever considered how much pollution you have inside your home?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, scientific evidence has actually found that air INSIDE your home or workplace can actually have more pollution than the air outside. And since we spend around 90% of our time indoors, which means we have longer exposure to pollutants – it can be highly dangerous to our health; without us even thinking twice about it. This air can be particularly dangerous to our children, grandparents and those who may already be suffering from chronic illness.
And as we lap up the cool of our air conditioning in the heat of summer; or cosy up nice and warm in the cools of winter – we need to consider the air coming through our Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. It probably isn’t something you think about much, but the hard truth is that if these are not cared for property, they can become contaminated, in turn emitting potentially harmful pollution throughout your home.
The good news is, there is an easy solution. Clean your system. If you don’t, you are putting your health and other people’s health at risk.
When you’re checking your system, there are two main things you need to keep an eye out for: mold and dust.
As we sit there cooling down in the summer, mold is enjoying the moisture in the system, getting ready for a big party that will come once you turn the system off. During the winter, that party grows into a festival and your mold is having the time of its life – getting ready to hit you where it hurts the most when it gets to escape again, your lungs. Ever turned on your air-con and you get a face full of a horrible stink – smells a bit like socks that haven’t been washed in months. Welcome to the world of mold.
Dust particles are a major cause of allergies and if you haven’t used your HVAC for a while, it’s highly likely there is a build-up of particles in the ducts and through the system. Dust can enter the home through any air leaks, particularly in your attic, so be sure to check everything is in good order.
Another reason you need to consider cleaning your HVAC is if you’ve recently renovated. The debris from your renovations would have floated through the air and as a result, can get caught in the ducts. This is particularly important if you’ve had lead-based paint or asbestos removed because both of these can be very detrimental to your health – and both have been linked to cancer and other illnesses.
In the home, you want to ensure the health of yourself, your loved ones and any guest is not compromised by the quality of your air.
If you own a business, looking after the health and wellbeing of your employees and customers is imperative; and if they seem to be suffering more with things like allergies and asthma, it might be time to get your system checked. In many countries, including the US, it’s actually the law that you have to get your HVAC system checked regularly and although you can do this yourself, for the sake of your business you’re better off getting a professional in. That way you aren’t going to miss anything; and they will have the right equipment if anything does need replacing.
So what do you need to check?
If you want to start by checking the system yourself (particularly in your own home), you want to pay attention to everything, from the ducts and furnaces to the pipes. We recommend you wear some protective gear, just in case, even if that means just putting a protective face mask and rain coat.
Check for any mold or dust build up, and while you’re there, ensure there are no bugs or vermin that have taken up residence. Keep your system mold free by keeping it dry – you can do that by using a wet vacuum, standing fans or your dehumidifier. If you find anything moldy, bin it.
You need to take a look at your humidification and dehumidification equipment and make sure it is drained regularly. Get your air filters replaced annually; check for any dust or debris on the outside of your system; and look after the ducts. Have a professional check your ducts for any leaks or damage and check that your coils and your pans are dry and clean.
To prevent dust, install an air cleaner in your HVAC – there are many different models to choose from and some can actually eliminate 99% of airborne dust particles from your air. Keep a regular check on your air filtration system and after you have finished cleaning your house, you can help to remove any excess dust from the air by turning on your furnace fan.