Modern heating and air conditioning systems should keep you comfortable all year long. Unfortunately, your Hillsborough, North Carolina, HVAC system might also be making you sick. While heating and cooling systems offer many advantages, without proper care and maintenance, they can present several risks. Here are five ways your HVAC system could be making you sick.

Microbial Contaminants

Heating and cooling systems should effectively manage indoor temperatures. Unfortunately, they can also cause pollutants to spread throughout your home. Lack of maintenance could provide a fertile breeding ground for fungi and mildew to flourish in your HVAC system.

As harmful substances develop in the HVAC’s components, they can easily enter your indoor air—especially via the vents whenever the system cycles on. These hazardous spores then circulate throughout the entire system, leaving you vulnerable to a variety of illnesses. In extreme cases, a contaminated HVAC system can even spread the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ Disease.

Moisture Problems

Fungi growth isn’t the only moisture-related issue that can spring from your HVAC system. Malfunctioning or poorly-maintained HVAC systems could affect humidity levels. Ideal indoor humidity levels range from 30 to 60 percent.

High humidity levels can create an environment that promotes dust mites, viruses, and other health hazards. On the other hand, not enough moisture can cause cold-like symptoms, skin irritation, and nosebleeds. Low humidity can also weaken the protective mucus lining in your nose and leave you more susceptible to viral infections.

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant is the substance that makes your whole cooling system work. It’s also potentially hazardous if there’s a leak. Exposure to refrigerant can cause severe headaches, nausea, respiratory irritation, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, it can even cause organ failure and death.

Common signs of a refrigerant leak are hissing or bubbling noises, insufficient cooling, and ice on the refrigerant lines or evaporator coils. Contact a licensed HVAC professional immediately if you spot any of these signs. Never attempt to address a refrigerant leak on your own.

Stale and Recycled Air

You keep your home sealed up tight when you’re using your HVAC system. After all, who wants to pay to heat or cool the outdoors? Unfortunately, this means that you are also sealing stale air indoors. Limiting the amount of fresh air in your home can cause stagnant, pollutant-laden air to build up to unsafe levels. There are a few ways to rectify this issue:

  • Open windows when possible.
  • Clean or replace your air filters.
  • Invest in a ventilator or air purifier.

Air cleaners are especially useful if anyone in your home is highly sensitive to allergies or suffers from a respiratory illness.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Ideally, your HVAC system should be distributing clean, pollutant-free air at all times. In practice, however, the air circulating throughout your home often contains dirt, dust, and even harmful particulates. This is even more likely if you neglect HVAC maintenance or filter changes. The ducts are also a haven for dust, pollen, pet dander, fungi, and other pollutants.

Dirty air filters make problems with dirty ducts and HVAC equipment worse. Clogged or dirty filters can no longer adequately remove particles from the air. As a result, occupants are likely to experiences higher rates of respiratory issues and other health problems. Over time, poor air quality affects everyone—not just those with respiratory problems. Managing your indoor air quality is one of the best ways to keep your household healthy.

Your IAQ Experts

There’s no doubt that HVAC systems are an essential part of home comfort. However, they can also create problems if you neglect preventive maintenance and routine care. If you or members of your family have unexplained symptoms that seem to surface primarily at home, your HVAC system could be playing a role.

To learn more about how to keep your HVAC system operating at its best, call Warren-Hay Mechanical at 919-251-5615. We have the expertise to provide efficient HVAC maintenance and indoor air quality services to keep your household healthy.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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