Thursday, March 18, 2010

Healthy House Planner- Part 3

Clearing the air.

You have a forced air heating system you'd think it would be a healthier environment, wouldn't you? So why does the smell of last nights dinner still linger? And why do you get so many headaches? And why do some children get go from one cold to another all winter and why do you feel so tired all the time?

Just a forced air system or baseboard heat might seem fine. If so, though, why does your basement smell musty, why the condensation on your airtight windows, and in some cases why does your paint discolor?

Maybe because your house can't breathe!

Indoor air can't escape. Fresh air and oxygen can't get in. There's no circulation.

Stale, stagnant air, pollen, dust, pet odors, and excessive humidity trapped between the walls accumulate and contribute to a build up of bad indoor air.

One system that may help is a called a continuous ventilation system, which will allow your house to breath. Here is how it works:

  • Vents located throughout your home draw in stale, humid air.
  • As the air is expelled, the outside vent simultaneously draws in fresh air warming it with the heat recovered from the indoor air being expelled
  • After passing through a ventilator, fresh warm air in the winter and cold in the summer depending on your indoor temperature, some systems can even work on compensating for the moisture keeping a comfortable humidity level inside the home through the year.

What about cleaning the ducts in my forced air system?

Duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.

Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.

If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.

Other Important Considerations...

The EPA has stated that duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning. This is because much of the dirt that may accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to health.

Joseph Talbot, ASA
Sales Representative
Remax Clearview Inc. brokerage

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