If you suffer from frequent colds and other respiratory problems, you may take medications to control your symptoms. But if the symptoms seem to get worse or return immediately after taking your medications, you need to clean out your home's air ducts. Dirty air ducts create the perfect environment for allergens to develop. Not only do dirty air ducts keep you ill, they also damage your home's air and heating systems. Here's why you need to clean out your air ducts and how to do so.
What's Dust Made Of?
It may surprise you to know that most of the dust particles in your home's air comes from your skin. Your skin sheds dead cells throughout the day and night, even after you bathe. It's your skin's way of renewing itself. However, this constant shedding creates a big problem in your home. It causes allergens.
Allergens are things that irritate your respiratory system. To fight off the allergens in your home, your lungs, nasal passages and throat make phlegm or mucus. Both body defenses protect your lungs from infection. Unfortunately, they also create aggravating and bothersome symptoms, such as a runny nose, nasal dripping and coughing.
Your home also contains other types of allergens, such as dead bugs, dust mites and pet hair. Combined with your dead skin cells, your home's environment is in danger of being unsafe and clean.
Your doctor may prescribe allergy and cold medications to help you get well. But if your air ducts build up with dust or dead skin cells, your symptoms won't go away for long. You need to clean out the ducts to find the relief you seek.
How Does Dust Settle Inside Your Home's Air Ducts?
Your air ducts perform two important jobs. They circulate cool and warm air throughout your home, and they remove airborne allergens from your indoor environment. If you don't clean your ducts at least once a year, the debris sticks to the inner linings of your air ducts.
You may think that your air and heating systems' air filters will remove these problems for you. But keep in mind that you shed dead skin daily, which makes it hard for your air filters to perform well. In addition, if you have pets with long hair or carpeting in the home, these things can also be difficult to control.
What Can You Do to Clean Out the Air Ducts?
Although you can contact a duct cleaning service to remove the dust from your air ducts, you can also do some of the work yourself. All you need is a few cleaning tools, which include a vacuum with a brush attachment, long-handled broom, and soapy water with a couple of old towels.
Also, keep on hand a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying dust particles, as well as a nasal mask to cover your nose and mouth. You don't want to irritate your respiratory system anymore than it is right now.
Now, here's how you do the cleaning:
- Use a manual or electric screwdriver to remove the covers or grilles from each air vent.
- Fill a large bucket or container with warm, soapy water. You can use regular dish detergent for this job because it doesn't give off a harsh, chemical odor.
- Put on your protective eye and nose gear. You may need a step ladder if the vents are too high to reach by foot.
- Place the end of your vacuum with brush attachment inside the opening of a vent, then turn the machine on low to avoid damaging the insides of the vent.
- Use gentle pressure to work the brush attachment along the inside of the vent until it looks clean and clear.
- Use the soapy water and a towel to wipe down the outside of the grilles and the inside the vents. Dry the vent thoroughly with another towel to prevent mold growth.
- Repeat the steps above with each vent, then replace the covers.
Wait a few days to see if your respiratory symptoms improve. If not, contact a contractor to see if you have other issues with your ducts. Your vents may contain dirt deeper inside them.
Keeping your air ducts clean can help alleviate your respiratory problems. If you have questions about your vents, make an appointment with an air duct cleaning service like Now Heating & Air.