The spring season is often associated with a radical increase in allergies. It is mainly because of allergens like pollen, dust, and dander present in the air. These cause increased sensitivity and adverse reactions in humans. Each year, almost 50 million Americans suffer from mild to severe allergic reactions due to the presence of one or more allergens in the air.
The indoor environment is no different. Unknown to most of us is the fact that many allergens are present indoors. Dust mites, dander, mold spores, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and smoke are just a few examples. To be honest, no home is ever completely free of allergens. Most of them reside in the ducts because they are rarely given a thorough cleaning. The air passing through the ducts picks them up and circulates them throughout the house. Breathing in such poor quality air triggers varying degrees of reactions amongst humans. It is precisely for this reason that air duct cleaning is a necessity. Clean air ducts reduce the frequency and severity of allergic reactions.
How Do Allergens Enter The Home?
Dust and dust mites find their way indoor through dirty shoes and open doors and windows. Mold grows in the wet and damp areas of the home like the washrooms, under the kitchen sink, and inside the crawl spaces. VOCs are released from spray cans, paints, and household cleaning agents. If you have pets, the source of dander is but obvious. Lastly, smoke from the kitchen or cigarettes can get trapped indoors if the ventilation is not proper.
Allergens In Your Ducts
As rightly claimed, the ducts are the lungs of your home. They take in and push out air to cool and warm the house, depending on the season. Over a period of time, the circulating air deposits dust, dirt, debris, and dander inside the ducts. Smoke and smells are also captured by the molecules present inside. Though air filters prevent the contamination of the ducts, yet when you fail to replace them, they stop performing this important function.
The other way in which allergens find their way inside the ducts is via the leaks and cracks. These develop due to improper insulation, critter infestation, or simple wear and tear of aged ducts.
Duct Cleaning Reduces Allergies
Ducts are a part of your home. Not cleaning them means leaving a part of your house dirty. The fact remains that your house is as clean as the dirtiest part of it. Therefore, duct cleaning is an important activity that every homeowner must undertake every few years.
Dust, mold, bacteria, and other illness-causing micro-organisms reside inside the air ducts. When air traverses through the ducts, it may pick up these contaminants and bring them back into circulation. Cleaning the ducts ensures that such pollutants don’t find their way into our breathing space and deteriorate the quality of indoor air. When they cannot enter circulation, the chances of severe allergic reactions decrease proportionately.
Since the ducts are not easily accessible, the buildups don’t happen overnight. Usually, they take years. Hence, regular cleaning of the ducts is not required. An appropriate time frame for duct cleaning is every 3 to 5 years.
Who Can Do Duct Cleaning?
Cleaning the ducts is a tricky business. If you desire a thorough cleaning, only the professional duct cleaners can do that. It is because regular household equipment like the vacuum cleaner cannot reach deep into the ducts. Whereas, the professional cleaners use industrial-grade equipment to reach every nook and cranny of the ducts. They have powerful truck-mounted vacuums that have long hoses to give the ducts a proper and in-depth cleansing. Hence, look for licensed and reputable duct cleaners to do the job.
Is Duct Cleaning Enough To Keep Allergies At Bay?
On its own, duct cleaning is not enough to keep all allergies at bay. It happens to be one of the many ways in which you can reduce the contaminants present in your home. The other things that you need to do are:
1. Clean and dust your entire house regularly.
2. Air out the carpets and mattresses in strong sunlight.
3. Let in fresh air from time to time by opening windows.
4. Ensure that the kitchen exhaust is in optimum working condition.
5. Refrain from smoking indoors.
6. Do not use strong disinfectants and other cleaning agents for sanitizing the house.
7. Always address leaks promptly so that there are no wet spots that could lead to mold growth.
8. Brush your pets regularly so that they don’t shed excessive amounts of hair and dead skin cells.
In Doubt About Duct Cleaning? – Ask Yourself These Questions
If ever you are in doubt, ask yourself these simple questions to figure out whether duct cleaning is called for or not.
1. In the last 5 years, did you ever get the ducts cleaned professionally?
2. Have you recently moved into a home that was earlier lived in?
3. Do you live in an area where there is a lot of dust in the environment?
4. When you switch on your heating and cooling system, do you suffer from bouts of sneezing, itchy skin, or headache?
5. Does anyone in your home suffer from breathing ailments that don’t subside even with proper medication?
If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, you should seriously think about getting your ducts professionally cleaned.
Beware Of Scammers
Unfortunately, many people claim to be professional duct cleaners, but they aren’t really so. Beware of such scammers as they can do more damage to the ducts leading to costly replacement. Look for licensed holders who have insurance and a good reputation. They might be a little pricey, but you can’t go wrong with them.
Food For Thought
Regular annual maintenance of the HVAC and periodic changing of the air filters ensure that the ducts don’t get dirty easily. You can further reduce the likelihood of allergens thriving in the ducts by maintaining healthy humidity levels. Remember, clean ducts will make your abode a happy and healthy home.