Are Dirty Air Ducts Contributing to Your Allergy Problems?

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Consider the most common airborne allergens: dust mites, pollen, mold, and animal dander.
Anyone susceptible to these allergies knows enough to avoid situations where they're in plentiful supply.
Of course, unless you live in a clean room at your neighborhood research lab, that's easier said than done.
Allergens are everywhere, so the least you can do is try to make your home a safe haven where you can breathe easy.
That means taking some simple steps: laundering your bedding frequently, vacuuming with a high-efficiency particle air filter, using a dehumidifier, showering at night, keeping pets out of your room, and so on.
But if you take these steps and your allergy problems persist, the culprit might lie in your air ducts.
Think about it: Anything that can travel through the air is going through your home's ductwork at some point.
Dust and debris can build up in the ducts, and if there's any moisture present, it won't be long before mold is, too.
And because air ducts are truly a case of "out of sight, out of mind," the buildup of allergens can go unnoticed for quite some time.
That's why people suffering from allergies or unexplained illnesses should consider having their air ducts cleaned professionally.
Many companies specialize in duct cleaning, while a number of HVAC specialists offer it as a logical extension of their existing services.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers these tips for selecting a duct cleaning service provider:
  • Be wary of those providers who make sweeping health claims, and those who suggest that duct cleaning should be scheduled regularly.
    Duct cleaning should only be performed on an as-needed basis; anything more frequent is not cost-effective.
  • Check references.
    If your provider is cleaning ducts but leaving a trail of broken furnaces, look elsewhere.
  • Make sure the service provider has worked on systems like yours and that the proper steps will be taken to contain all contaminants removed from the ducts.
    In addition, make sure the provider complies with standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association.
  • Get a written agreement outlining the total cost and scope of the project.
Remember too that of all the potential allergens in your ductwork, mold is the most insidious.
Even though duct cleaning might remove the problem temporarily, you'll want to find and correct the conditions that caused the mold growth in the first place.
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