Are Pathogens Hiding Out in Your Vents?

Where They Lurk

dusty_vent Photo by Ciro Cattuto

The vents of any HVAC system are prone to collect a variety of air contaminants. Since the average homeowner isn't able to inspect their own ventilation, dust, pollen, and mold buildup can go unnoticed for years on end. What's more, HVAC technicians may not inspect an entire ventilation network if there are no visible contaminants around the output and return vents of the system. Unfortunately, this means that pathogens could be lurking in the depths of your ventilation, and since only the return (air intake) vent on your system has a filter, they can enter your family's air supply uninhibited.

The Pathogens

Dust and pollen are the most common contaminates to build up on the interior of ventilation systems. And although they aren't toxic, they can still exacerbate allergies and cause respiratory irritation. Thankfully, dust and pollen are easy to remove, and they can be controlled through a simple yearly cleaning.

Fungal growth, on the other hand, poses a much greater risk. Even small amounts of moisture and humidity within your ventilation can foster toxic mold growth, and long-term exposure can lead to chronic illness, especially in children and the elderly.

mold_growing Photo by mediamolecule on Flickr

Symptoms of mold exposure include eye irritation, wheezing, sneezing, and headaches. If you suspect your home to be contaminated with mold, either in its ventilation or otherwise, contact a professional as soon as possible to inspect the problem.

Prevention and Removal

Unfortunately, when it comes to cleaning out ventilation contaminants, your average Swiffer or feather duster won't do the job. It's best to have a professional Arlington HVAC technician or contractor check your ventilation system once every year to look for excessive dust buildup or mold growth.

The most important measure you can take to prevent mold on your own is to monitor your home's humidity level; it should sit between 40% and 60%. If the humidity in your home regularly exceeds 60%, purchase a dehumidifier and set it to run daily.

If your Arlington HVAC technician finds mold in your vents, contact a contractor once the vents are clean to find and eliminate any sources of moisture before more mold begins to grow.

Don't let pathogens build up in your vents. With some thoughtful maintenance and help from your HVAC technician in Arlington, you can raise the quality of the air your family breathes and keep your vents as clean as they day there were made.