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The Heat is On – But it is Bringing Some Nasty Friends

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It is the enemy within.  Many people dread the first day when the heat is activated in their homes after a long summer of non-use.  The heating unit has had time to accumulate plenty of dust, mold, and allergens, and turning the heat on for the first time is like a shotgun blast of harmful particles that shoot into your home’s atmosphere.  Thus, there are two options: avoid the heater and create another ice age in your home, or have your duct cleaning professionally performed before firing up that heat for the winter months.

Source of the Problem:

In an NBC News article titled, “Got Allergies? Check Your Furnace,” the author explains that your sudden relapse into allergic reactions in the fall is not caused by late-blooming pollens outdoors, but rather by firing up the heat in one’s home after the summer months without proper duct cleaning: “Each fall, when people crank up their forced air heating systems for the first time of the season, houses can be flooded with dust and other throat-clogging gunk, experts say.”  A tell-tale sign is that burning smell that accompanies an initial heating as some dust and mold is burned in the unit, but the majority of particles travel directly into your home.

Dust Mites:

As much as we would prefer to not think about these creatures, their reality cannot be ignored.  These microscopic bugs feed on dust as it is a biological substance (mostly minuscule pieces of dried skin).  These bugs are also dispersed in the air and cause allergy-sufferers a great deal of discomfort when inhaled.  Certainly, the microscopic world is full of unpleasantness that is best not dwelled upon, but a professional duct cleaning of your HVAC system can combat the air-transport of dust mites and other particles.


Some experts recommend humidifiers as a way to cut down on airborne particles, but this only presents another problem in some cases: mold activation.  When moisture meets with mold in the recesses of our home and HVAC system, mold spores can be brought to life, made only worse by the combination of heat.  Moisture and heat are the lifeblood of mold and the inherent danger of many of these spores is not restricted to those who suffer from allergies regularly.  This is not to say that humidifiers should be avoided; experts actually recommend them to combat airborne particles, but they should always be combined with a thorough system and duct cleaning.

Never Retreat!

One who suffers from allergies often makes the mistake of barricading oneself in the home, but studies show that the one thing the outside atmosphere allows is limitless ventilation.  In fact, the average home contains more than twice the amount of allergens than the outside air.  HEPA-filters can help, and an HVAC expert can certainly increase your protection within the system if needed.  Stand-alone air purifiers seem like an easy fix, but the problem is that these devices will be trying to play “catch up” with the particles constantly being blown out of the unit into the air.  The best approach is to have adequate purifying filters installed within the HVAC system to stop the majority of dust, mites, and spores from escaping in the first place.

This all boils down to the importance of having your HVAC system professionally cleaned and inspected for the winter.  An HVAC expert will be able to determine if your filtration system is adequate and how you can best minimize the allergens and other particles entering your home.

Entek HVAC is the proud recipient of the Angie’s List Super Service Award and has locations in Longview, WA and Vancouver, WA. Give them a call to schedule a free estimate: (800) 633-1354


Related Reading:

Nine Tips On Choosing The Right Heating And Cooling Company

Tips for Storing Your Air Conditioner Over Fall & Winter