How Often Should You clean Your HVAC System for Optimal Indoor Air Quality?

close up of air filterDuring the summer in Jacksonville, Florida and the surrounding region, homeowners are typically making heavy use of their air conditioning systems, just as they activate their heating system more often when winter comes. As you run the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment more frequently, it makes sense to wonder about the quality of the air you are breathing inside the home.

This brings to mind a question that frequently comes up with homeowners. How often should you clean your HVAC system for optimal indoor health? A number of variables come to play, so there is no one single answer for each family and their home.

For example, there may be more dust and airborne dirt where you live, or higher levels of pollution. Then there is the issue of pets and the dander they shed, which adds to the load of debris that gets into your HVAC equipment. If anyone smokes inside the house, this brings in even more contaminants that must be filtered.

Families with young children, the elderly and any individuals with serious medical conditions that affect their respiratory system need to pay particular attention to indoor air quality.

It's clear that homeowners should have a licensed, professional HVAC technician perform regular maintenance, inspections and cleaning of the entire heating and AC system at least once a year. This will take care of issues such as the dust that builds up on the coil and ensures that the system runs as efficiently as possible. But what about other aspects of the HVAC system-the ducts and filters? And should you take care of it, or is it best to call in professionals?

Filter Cleaning and Replacement

The air filter you install to work with your HVAC system may be reusable, requiring you to clean it on a regular basis. Check the manufacturer's instructions for the schedule of cleaning or replacement.

The U.S. Department of Energy's report on air conditioner maintenance notes that you should clean your filters every month or two during the summer, with more frequent changes being required if you run the AC more often or are in a dusty environment. If your system uses disposable filters, always follow the instructions about when to swap them out, and make a note to remind you in your calendar.

Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is dirty, serious business and it's best to have a licensed professional take care of this task to ensure that it is done properly, safeguarding the comfort and health of your family.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Air Quality report does not officially make a recommendation on how often you should clean air ducts because scientific knowledge is still in the early stages. It's a judgment call you can make after consulting with HVAC professionals.

Keep in mind that the EPA notes you should get ducts cleaned if you see mold growing inside them, or if the ducts have become infested with insects or rodents. Obviously filthy or clogged vents are a clear sign that professional cleaning is warranted.

Keep Track of Pollution and Allergen Forecasts

Depending on your location, there may be higher cases of air pollution or more allergens in the air, requiring you to clean or replace filters more often than homeowners living in more pristine areas.

For serious respiratory and other medical conditions, it's always best to check with your doctor or other healthcare professional regarding what type of filtering system would be best to meet your particular needs. Consult your local newspaper for smog and pollen forecasts to get a better sense of your indoor air quality needs.

No one likes the idea that the air inside their home could be making members of the family uncomfortable or even sick. If you have concerns about the amount of dirt in your ducts or the filters for your HVAC system, you should know that the knowledgeable professionals at David Gray Heating & Air are standing by to assist you. For details on our cleaning services in the greater Jacksonville, Florida and beyond or to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.

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