If you’re struggling with chronic or recurring problems like fatigue, headaches, skin rashes, or nasal and respiratory congestion, you might be surprised about their underlying cause. If you aren’t taking good care of the HVAC system in your Boise, ID home, it can certainly make you sick. When HVAC systems are working properly, they promote clean, healthy indoor air. When they aren’t, they can circulate off-gassed contaminants, dangerous pathogens, and common allergens from room to room.

Why Regular HVAC Maintenance Is Essential

There are countless reasons to schedule professional maintenance service for each type of HVAC equipment you own every year. Routine tune-up service primes heaters and air conditioners for their high-demand seasons, increases their efficiency, and promotes safe, problem-free operation. It can help cut your energy costs and lower your carbon footprint. It also sets the stage for an acceptably high indoor air quality (IAQ).

In addition to inspecting and testing systems, replacing worn parts, and verifying the integrity of air ducts, HVAC technicians clean heaters, heat pumps, and air conditioners inside and out. This eliminates buildups of trapped debris that might otherwise get blown off and re-enter the living space. It also eliminates all airflow obstructions so that HVAC systems can effectively regulate humidity.

HVAC Air Filters

Regular air filter changes play a hand in optimizing HVAC performance, too. Keeping a fresh filter installed can prevent problems like built-up debris on and behind air registers, vents, and grilles, increased airborne particulates, and dramatic increases in indoor humidity. If you neglect HVAC air filter changes, increasingly moist indoor conditions could leave you with condensation-covered windows and walls and fast-spreading mildew and mold.

Residents living in mold-infested properties often contend with headaches, frequent earaches, dizziness, low energy, and more. Indoor mold can also trigger or exacerbate chronic respiratory conditions and leave all residents coughing, sneezing, sniffling, or wheezing.

Fuel-Combusting Appliances and the Health Hazards of Poor Furnace Maintenance

If you have a gas-fired or an oil-fired furnace, routine maintenance is essential for ensuring the integrity of its venting system. All fuel-combusting appliances produce carbon monoxide (CO) as the result of incomplete combustion. This gas is odorless, colorless, and potentially fatal in instances of prolonged exposure.

Common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, confusion, muscle weakness, nausea, and vomiting. Having an overly tight home envelope and problems with negative air pressure can cause back-drafting. Back-drafting draws CO and other exhaust gases down venting systems and back indoors until negative air pressure is corrected. CO exposure can also occur as the result of crushed or blocked exhaust vents.

Are You Changing Your HVAC Air Filter Often Enough?

Most HVAC equipment manufacturers recommend inspecting air filters monthly and changing them every 30 to 90 days. However, if you have ongoing IAQ concerns, you should consider increasing the frequency of both filter inspections and filter changes. To keep your filter change schedule on track, you can also upgrade your standard or programmable thermostat to a smart thermostat. Many smart thermostats send out timely reminders for filter changes and annual equipment maintenance. According to ENERGY STAR, they can also shave up to 8% off the average household’s annual heating and cooling costs.

Is Your HVAC Air Filter Up to the Task

Not all HVAC air filters are created equally. In addition to displaying filter sizes, filter packaging and filter frames should list the maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings of these components. The highest possible MERV rating is 20, while the lowest is one. Standard air filters have MERV ratings of six to eight. If your standard air filter is underperforming, you can upgrade it to one with a MERV rating of 10 or 12.

Higher-rated filters have larger surface areas, tighter, denser mesh, and the ability to capture and retain a greater range of indoor contaminants. However, even as upgraded filters contribute to better indoor air quality, they diminish airflow. To enjoy both IAQ improvements and superior HVAC performance, you should upgrade your air filter with the help of a licensed HVAC company.

Dirty or Pest-Ridden Air Ducts and How They Cause Illness

Pest infestations can prove devastating to both your IAQ and resident health. When rodents and other pests set up camp in HVAC air ducts or other system components, they leave lots of bacteria-ridden detritus behind. Having your air ducts cleaned to remove shed wings and exoskeletons, feces, food, and carcasses could be key to improving your health.

Insufficient Humidity Regulation and Your Health

Part of maintaining an acceptably high IAQ is maintaining balanced humidity. Although your HVAC system can help, it isn’t an effective standalone solution to serious moisture issues. For instance, if you have a large household that engages in lots of moisture-generating activities, your HVAC system could struggle to extract excess moisture from your indoor air.

Although heat pumps, AC units, and condensing furnaces remove moisture, they aren’t designed to add it when indoor air becomes too dry. While overly moist indoor air creates the perfect conditions for mold, mildew, and bacteria, dry indoor air leaves homes riddled with particulate debris. Having a modest amount of moisture in the air weighs down dust particles, pet hairs, and other contaminants so that they’re easy to wipe up or vacuum.

How to Improve Your IAQ and Health

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that indoor air is often more contaminated than the air outside. In fact, it can be two to five times more contaminated. As per the EPA, one of the biggest contributing factors to indoor air quality concerns is insufficient ventilation.

Ventilation promotes air exchange in which contaminated indoor air flows out of buildings and fresh outdoor air replaces it. With tight home envelopes and limited venting, most houses aren’t getting enough air exchange to protect their IAQ. You can add more mechanical ventilation to your house or simply clean and better leverage the mechanical ventilation you already own.

Schedule an Indoor Air Quality Assessment

It’s important to schedule a professional IAQ assessment as well. This will tell you which contaminants are present and in what concentrations. It will also measure your indoor humidity and identify the most likely causes of your most pressing IAQ and health concerns.

Address the Underlying Causes of IAQ Concerns

There are both fixed and fixable IAQ concerns. Fixed indoor air quality issues are problems that homeowners can’t easily eliminate or escape. For instance, during the first two to five years that follow the completion of new construction or major renovation projects, some building materials constantly off-gas harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde and benzene. These include certain flooring types and flooring adhesives, many interior paints, engineered wood, unsealed particle board, and wood stains.

Fixable IAQ concerns are problems that homeowners can and should eliminate right away. These include poorly sealed sump pump covers or slab leaks that permit the entry of radon gas, poorly vented fuel-combusting appliances, and slow or hidden leaks at the backs of appliances, behind drywall, or in crawlspaces. Before upgrading your filters or investing in major IAQ improvements, you should find and resolve all issues such as these.

Incorporate Integrated HVAC Accessories to Improve Your IAQ

For ongoing IAQ challenges, you can also take advantage of integrated HVAC accessories. These appliances are seamlessly integrated into HVAC systems to cleanse, humidify, or dehumidify conditioned air before it’s distributed. Based on your needs, you can choose from whole-house humidifiers and dehumidifiers, air purifiers, air scrubbers, sanitizing UV lights, and media filters.

We help homeowners in Boise, ID maintain healthy, comfortable homes. We offer outstanding cooling, heating, and plumbing services. We also provide HVAC air duct replacements, water heaters, smart thermostats, and advanced indoor air quality solutions. To schedule an appointment, call Access Heating & Air Conditioning today.


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