Allergies? Maybe It’s Your Air Ducts and HVAC System

BALTIMORE, MD, April 21, 2014 / MM Globalwire / After a brutal winter in, bulbs are starting to peek out of the ground and trees, grasses and plants are emerging from hibernation.  What that means for the one-in–five Americans who suffer from allergies is clear:  Time to cough sneeze, wheeze and drip.

What many Americans don’t know is that indoor air pollution and allergens are as big a problem as outdoor air.

The culprit in most homes is poor ventilation and dirty air ducts.

The Environmental Protection Agency says, “There are examples of ducts that have become badly contaminated with a variety of materials that may pose risks to your health.”

“Homeowners should have their air ducts inspected and cleaned annually,” said Dennis Barnes, owner of Piccadilly Square Chimney Sweeps, which services Harford County, Baltimore County and locations around Maryland. “Air ducts collect dust, pollen and other debris.  Adding moisture to the mix and there is potential for mold growth and spores, which can be distributed throughout the home via the heating and cooling system,” Barnes added.

Dr. Marjorie Slankard, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, told NBC News that “sometimes when people turn their air on, they find themselves coughing and sneezing, and that is especially true if the air ducts have not been cleaned for a while.”

Having air ducts cleaned really matters. Ask Kyle Ashcroft, whose son Ethan has multiple allergies.  Ethan’s allergy doctor suggested getting their home’s ducts cleaned.  Ashcroft told The Columbus Dispatch that his son “has had more restful sleep, and considerably less sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes.”

Who do you turn to for air duct cleaning? The EPA warns there are both reputable and shady businesses out there. They strongly recommend getting references before hiring a company to clean your air ducts.

“It’s true, there are some businesses out there that don’t thoroughly clean air ducts, they just vacuum near and around the intakes,” Barnes said. “It’s important to 1) ask a service provider for references, 2) ask if they have associated licensing in their state, and 3) see if they are in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.”

The problems with allergies and HVAC systems has spurned new technology, like ductless heating and cooling systems.  Mitsubishi Electric is one manufacturer that is tackling this head on with HVAC systems that are designed for individual rooms and use no ducts.

But, for the millions of allergy sufferers who have standard air ducts, it’s probably the right time to call a professional, like Barnes, and have him rid the ducts of what’s making you sneeze.


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