Awareness about indoor air quality among homeowners is not as much as it should be. There are not many who give room temperature the importance it deserves. Room temperature denotes comfort and ease that is required after a long day at work. Comfortable room temperature keeps our loved ones in good spirits too.
However, this is not reason why comfortable indoor temperature is important. There is another very important factor called indoor air quality. It is not enough that the temperature inside your home is comfortable; the quality of air should also be healthy.
Importance of Indoor Air Quality
The State Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Program by the State of California Department of Public Health states poor indoor air quality is one of the top five environment hazards. The air that flows into the rooms of your house needs to be clean. Otherwise, it could create health problems and have adverse effects on the occupants. It is required that all homeowners realize the importance of having clean air flowing into the rooms from the air conditioner. The air filters of your air conditioners and the ducts of the system play a very important role in maintaining healthy indoor air quality.
The cool air that flows out from the air conditioners comes from the ducts in the air conditioner. These ducts dispense the conditioned air from unit into the rooms of the house. They are mainly concealed in the walls, at the back of the systems, in attics, basements or ceilings.
These ducts need to be kept in good shape and health. For, the air that flows out from them is the one you and your family inhales! Like all tubes, ducts also need periodic cleaning and can give rise to serious health problems, if neglected.
Cleaning of the ducts means removing the impurities that get deposited into the various heating and cooling components of your comfort systems. This includes the supply and return air ducts, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, the grilles and diffusers, fan motor and fan housing, condensate drain pans (drip pans), and the housing of the actual air handling units.
These components can get contaminated with particles of dust, or other types of debris. They can also be the house for microbiological growth like mold and mildew, and the spores from such growth get released into the indoor air. These contaminants can be the cause for allergic reactions or cold and flu in the people exposed to them.
Hence, cleaning the ducts and the other components of the air conditioners and heating systems is very important for the health of your family.
When Should the Ducts be Cleaned?
This is a tricky question. Usually, when you purchase a new air conditioner, the HVAC contractor will carry out periodic checks and maintenance, which could include duct cleaning. But, not always will duct cleaning be included in these maintenance exercises.
Perhaps, if nobody in your household has any allergies or other symptoms or illnesses, the ducts may not require cleaning. You could also visually inspect the inside of the ducts. If there is no indication of contamination or deposits of dust, mold or odor, you may not really need to clean the ducts. Meanwhile, there may be deposits of loose dust in the ducts. This does not indicate any contamination and can be cleaned by simply vacuuming the ducts.
Methods of Duct Cleaning
There are some standards established by industry associations regarding the cleaning of ducts. Typically, a service agency will send out a technician who will use specialized tools to dislodge the dust, dirt and any other deposits in ducts. He will them vacuum the ducts with a vacuum cleaner.
In some case, the technician may suggest applying chemical biocides to the insides of the ducts. This kills the microbiological contaminants. Some agencies recommend applying some chemical treatments such as sealants, to coat the insides of the air ducts. This, they claim, will control the growth of mold growth and prevent the dirt particles or fibers formation in the ducts.
To sum it all, the ducts of our air conditioning units play an important role when it comes to maintaining indoor air quality.