The most efficient method of having a house that stays warm in the winter and cools in the summer is an integrated, centralized, HVAC system. A furnace in the basement, with a condenser, installed somewhere just outside the home. The condenser pulls in air and cools it, while a furnace can warm air.
But critical to both systems is the air ducts that run through the house. Unlike the condenser or the furnace, your air ducts never get a break and are in constant use throughout the year.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that because air ducts don’t have any moving parts, they’ll work at top efficiency, forever. That, however, is a mistaken assumption. Air ducts can have their performance impacted by something as simple as dirt, and when if it does happen, it can affect both your bills and your health.
You Pay More On Bills
It’s easy to imagine that dirt in air ducts doesn’t do much, since dust and other contaminants weigh almost nothing, and are at the mercy of the air blown through the ducts. But dirt can eventually settle and accumulate in many different spaces in air ducts, including in the furnace or near the filters.
Once this happens, that build-up means that air isn’t traveling through the ducts as efficiently. Your furnace or condenser will have to work for longer periods of time to hit the desired temperature in your home. That, ultimately, translates into getting energy bills with higher amounts you owe.
In addition to the financial negatives of dirty air ducts, there are very real health risks associated with them too. Dirt is, after all, a possible contagion, depending on what the dirt is made of.
In a typical home, dirt and dust can be made of skin flakes, fur or dander from household pets, or even mold spores, if you have mold in your home.
Any of these can lodge in the air ducts somewhere and, if conditions are right, can even provide a “safe” environment for bacteria to take root and multiply. Once that happens, these irritants, allergens, and other pollutants can cause sinus irritation and other uncomfortable issues every time the AC or furnace kicks in.
It is people with asthmatic conditions that are at the most risk in a home with dirty air ducts. Instead of being in a place of comfort and relative safety, the constant venting of allergens and contaminants into the air can instead cause health problems.
Pollen, mold spore and other irritants can aggressively provoke an asthmatic reaction. This can mean that a person in the home is at risk to greater asthmatic attacks inside his or her own home than taking chances in some other location.