What are the Most Common Indoor Air Contaminants?
The air in our homes and businesses is abundant in things that will make your nose run, your eyes burn, and get your skin all itchy. Dust, pollen, dead skin cells, carbon monoxide, cooking smoke, pet dander, bacteria, and funguses (fungi?), don’t add up to even half of what we inhale that is offensive to our bodies all day, every day. These irritating particles are often picked up, recirculated, and re-deposited around our homes, courtesy of our ceiling fans and HVAC systems.
Eventually, most of this mess ends up in our heating and air conditioning systems, and if all is working properly, it should all be deposited in the air filters. One common irritant in comfortable making its home anywhere there is moisture and air is mold, and once it appears it can be difficult to get rid of.
Is Air Duct Cleaning a Good Thing or a Waste of Money?
The answer is going to depend on who you ask. According to many local heating and air conditioning companies, air duct cleaning is vital, and it probably is. To their bottom line. According to a study performed by the Environmental Protection Agency, “duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems, nor does the dust level of homes increase as a result of dirty air ducts”. The study also showed that most of the dirt that blows through our ductwork is more likely to adhere to the dirt in the ducts, rather than escaping to the living areas.
Attempting to clean air conditioning ducts is more likely to release more irritants back into the air than will be eliminated by the cleaning. Instead of cleaning air ducts, the best recommendation for anyone interested in properly maintaining their HVAC system is to replace the air filters. Most manufacturers suggest replacing air filters in their equipment every three- to six-months, even more frequently if there are smokers in the house.
While smoke and dust can be irritating, mold and mildew growth inside of air conditioning ducts needs to be remediated, as it would be anywhere else in the home. The only way to stop mold growth is to remove anything it has infested, whether its clothing, furniture, carpets, drywall, even the support beams of a home. Everything mold has grown on/in needs to go.
Can Mold Grow in an AC Duct?
Houston is known the world over for our food, our sports franchises, and most of all for our relentless heat and humidity. Excess humidity is more than uncomfortable for us humans, and it’s not good for our homes, either. Air conditioners must work harder on hot, humid days just to keep up with demand, often freezing themselves up in the process.
Mildew and mold are bound to form in any moist and oxygen-rich environment, making your air conditioning ducts the perfect place to grow and spread unnoticed. The infestation usually starts with a small amount of condensation in the groove of an air duct and can quickly grow cover the entirety of your AC ductwork.
What About Antimicrobial Air Ducts?
Antimicrobial: destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms, especially pathogenic organisms.
A more reader friendly version of the above Merriam-Webster dictionary definition would be “any agent that kills or stops the growth of single and multi-celled microorganisms”.
As the newest entry into the “healthier home” market, antimicrobial air ducts are a new weapon against the circulation of airborne irritants. The worst of those contaminants are mold and mildew, which pose a significantly greater health risk than pet dander or dust. Mold growth is related to many chronic respiratory conditions, like asthma and allergies, and can make already existing illnesses like COPD worse.
With knowledge of the antimicrobial properties of certain metals, several manufacturers have introduced ductwork that can eliminate bacteria and mold. Copper pipes have been standard in hospitals for decades, thanks to their germ-killing ability, and the same holds for antimicrobial ducts. HVAC ductwork has a life expectancy of between 15 and 20 years, and should be replaced, where possible, when replacing your central air conditioner unit. By replacing your HVAC system and it’s associated ductwork together, you can save time and money, and ensure the future health of your family.
Interested in installing antimicrobial ductwork in your home? Give Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning a call today to discuss options, ask questions, and schedule an appointment.