At some point, you have probably considered how to improve your indoor air quality. Whether you were trying to remove pungent smells or considering purchasing an air purifier, the thought has likely crossed your mind.
What you probably did not know was the effect that decision could have on your heating and cooling system. Yes, the quality of your air can change how your furnace and air conditioner perform. This means that improving your air quality will help your HVAC system last longer and run more efficiently, saving you money on both maintenance and operation.
What Strains the HVAC System?
When you think about how an HVAC system works, it is easy to see how the quality of your air would have an influence on its operation. Consider that, at a very high level, your furnace and air condition both work by moving air around.
The air we breathe has a lot of different particles in it. Those include larger particles like dust, dirt, and hair. They also include smaller particles like those from cleaning products, bacteria, and viruses. Whether you can see the particles with your naked eye or not, they are still there.
These particles then accumulate in different areas as they pass through your HVAC system. This certainly poses a health hazard, but it also creates a strain on the system.
The biggest issue is in these accumulated particles restricting the airflow through the system. Think about your furnace filters. After one month, they can accumulate all sorts of dust, hair, and other particulates. Your filters are not the only place that can restrict air from moving through the system.
The heat exchanger on a furnace and the evaporation coils on an air conditioner are both places that collect particulates and restrict airflow. Consider the first time you start up your furnace in the fall or winter. You probably smell something burning. That is all of the dust that collected over the summer burning off as the heat exchanger warms up.
The circulation fan is another component that does not get nearly enough attention. This is the primary component responsible for creating the air movement through your home. It is going to collect an enormous amount of particulates.
The ductwork is the final place that often gets neglected, in part because of how difficult it is to access it. However, when you get a camera in there to look, you’ll probably discover it’s less than clean. In fact, these areas are just about as perfect an environment to grow fungus and mold as you can get.
The point is, when you restrict the ability for air to pass through the system easily, you put a strain on the system. The motors have to work harder to push the air through. You extend the heating and cooling cycle length, which increases overall operating costs and puts more use on the components.
5 Ways to Improve Air Quality That Will Help Your System
Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to help improve your air quality that will also help extend the life of your system.
1. Keep an Eye on Your Filters
The very best thing you can do is keep a close eye on your filters. When you first start working to improve air quality, you need to look at them more often than every 30 days, regardless of how long they are rated to last. Keep in mind that once particulates start restricting air from flowing through the filter properly, you add resistance to your system, and the filters start becoming ineffective. You can extend the life of your filters by using a vacuum cleaner to pull off the dirt that has collected on the surface.
Also, consider better filters. Some filters are good for collecting larger particulates like hair, dust, and dirt. However, for smaller particulates, like mold spores, fungus, and bacteria, you need a filter with smaller pores. Be sure to read reviews and studies that support the claims of the filter to ensure you are not wasting your money.
2. Dust and Vacuum Regularly
Along with changing your filters when they start restricting airflow, the next best thing you can do is look at your cleaning schedule. The better you remove dust and dirt from your space, the less there is to pass through the system.
Consider how you are doing both of these activities too. Be sure to check the filters on your vacuum to ensure you are not passing more particulates back into the air while you are cleaning. Use a natural dusting solution to cut down on the amount of dust you return to the air. There are lots of recipes available if you want to make your own natural dusting spray.
3. Remove Mold and Mildew Quickly
If you find mold or mildew in your home, work to remove it quickly. If left unchecked, this will quickly add spores to the air. These are considered biological contaminants and do collect on components like the heat exchanger. Restricted airflow at this particular component can be very damaging, causing an overheated system.
Be sure to keep clutter down to a minimum as well, as this creates spaces where mold and mildew love to grow. If you do find something that has started a small science experiment, be sure to wash it in a solution that kills the spores. This will reduce the chances of it recurring.
4. Maintain Proper Humidity
Humidity is so important for both people and HVAC systems. The proper humidity for homes is 30%-50%. When the humidity is higher than 50%, it encourages mold and mildew to grow just about anywhere that is dark and hard to find.
With less than 50% humidity, air particulates become lighter and stay in the air longer. This means more of them are passing through your system rather than collecting on furniture and the floor. It also means that your skin is going to be drier, contributing to more dust particles floating around.
Running a humidifier during drier months along with a dehumidifier when there is more humidity will help keep this under control. Also, running your ventilation fans in your bathroom and kitchen will help reduce humidity as well.
5. Clean Your HVAC System Regularly
The final thing to do to help maintain your air quality and the life of your HVAC system is to have it cleaned regularly. Clearing your air ducts, your heat exchanger, and circulating fan regularly helps improve airflow, increases efficiency and reduces the strain on the system.
It also has the benefit of making the air healthier for you to breathe, meaning you may not experience as many allergies or respiratory issues.
Trusted Air Quality Experts
Liberty Comfort Systems proudly serves the Anoka area with over 120 years of combined HVAC experience. We are NATE- and EPA-certified. That means our techs are highly trained and will help you find solutions to improve your air quality and extend the life of your HVAC system. We also offer AC repairs and heating repairs plus solar and commercial services. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation and find the best ways to help you breathe easier.