The time is right (and so is the weather in our neck of the woods) to shake off the winter cobwebs. Spring is the traditional season for giving your home a thorough cleaning. Spring cleaning is a great tradition, getting rid of clutter and readying your home for the warm months ahead.
Make indoor air quality a part of your spring cleaning this time of year! Cleanliness promotes good health, and that’s especially true when you’re talking about the air you breathe.
All of the following factors make spring the perfect time to improve your home’s air quality:
- Spring (and specifically late March) is when allergies become problematic. All of the local pollen-producing plants are kicking into high gear. By the time you start seeing the powdery pollen on the ground, you’re likely to be sneezing up a storm.
- Your air conditioner has been standing idle for several months. Soon enough, that AC unit will be running practically non-stop. You should clean out the accumulated grime of the winter before facing the challenges of the summer. (Also, a clean AC is a more efficient machine — less likely to break down.)
- Humidity comes back up as temperatures rise. Warmer air can hold more moisture. That means the cracks and crevices of your home, including, perhaps, your ducts, are getting wetter and friendlier for all sorts of unwelcome microorganisms.
Here are four great ways to address indoor air quality during your spring cleaning:
Replace (or clean) your air filter.
Lots of us let our air filters slide during the cold winter months. This is the perfect time to replace it or, if your system uses a permanent one, to clean it.
A dirty air filter does a lot to reduce the quality of your air. Air will always travel to your air conditioner via the path of least resistance; if your filter gets clogged up, air will bypass it entirely. A clogged filter also encourages your system to draw in potentially-polluted air from your attic or crawlspace.
Seal your air duct work.
This is a step you don’t need to take every year. But if you can’t remember the last time you had your ducts sealed, why not rectify the situation this spring?
Duct sealing does several great things for your air quality:
- It prevents the infiltration of low-quality air (see above) that may be contaminated.
- It lowers humidity levels in your home, slowing the growth of dust mites and microbes.
- It slows the buildup of unwanted particles inside your ducts.
The better-sealed you keep your ducts, the healthier the air in your HVAC system will be. And that air goes straight from your vents to your lungs, doesn’t it? In many homes, air ducts run through some unsavory spaces. The less air gets in from crawlspace and attics, the better.
Duct sealing has financial benefits, too. It increases the efficiency of your air conditioning system by keeping more conditioned air inside. Your system doesn’t have to work as hard — and that means a reduced utility bill.
Clean Your Air Ducts
Although duct cleaning isn’t an annual requirement for every home, plenty of us could use one.
When dust and grime build up in your air ducts, contaminants are more likely in your air. Bad smells circulate. Your air conditioner has to work harder to drive the air you need, increasing your utility costs.
TO determine if you need a duct cleaning, inspect your return ducts and the blower wheel in your air conditioner. If you see thick grime build-up, it’s time for a full cleaning. A thin, dry layer of dust isn’t enough to warrant professional attention.
Professional duct cleaning makes an excellent partner to duct sealing. If you haven’t had either done to your home, why not take care of them both at the same time? Freshly-cleaned ducts will last longer if you have them sealed immediately afterward.
Schedule An Annual AC Service
In addition to checking the mechanical health of your air conditioner, a professional technician making a spring service call will clean its evaporator coil and blower wheel. This is the perfect time for this cleaning because these components may reduce the quality of all the air they circulate in your home in the coming months.
A dirty evaporator coil makes a great breeding ground for microbes. Things will get worse as the temperature rises and you start running your AC constantly. This will keep the coil wet for months at a time — perfect conditions for growing harmful bacteria.
So, what about the blower wheel? The blower wheel is a little drier than the coil, but it’s still a perfect place for contaminants to grow. And unwanted particles on the wheel can be lifted off by passing air and injected straight into your home! A dirty blower wheel also reduces the efficiency of the AC unit and may even lead to premature blower failure.
Both of these cleaning tasks are part of a standard AC service check-up. (It also typically includes flushing your drain line, cleaning the indoor coils, and checking all components.) Many HVAC companies will also take care of replacing your air filter during your service visit. To reduce the hassle (and expense) of cleaning your air conditioner even further, you may want to sign up for an HVAC service agreement so that this basic maintenance work is paid for in advance.
This spring, take steps to make your home a cleaner place, including the air you breathe.
Even the most scrupulously-tidied home is less than comfortable if the air quality makes you sneeze, cough, and ache day in and day out. Installing a fresh filter, cleaning and sealing your air ducts, and making sure your air conditioner is clean will go a long way to maximizing your indoor air quality. A little wise attention now will keep you breathing easy for the year to come.
And don’t forget: a cleaner HVAC system is a more efficient HVAC system! That translates into reduced energy costs and measurable savings on your utility bills.