If you've ever wondered what sort of cooties your central air could be blowing through your home, you're not alone. Probably everyone who has air conditioning -- and in 2009, that was 89 percent of the American population -- has asked this same question at one time or another. Sadly, there is no definitive answer. For the most part? Yes, air conditioning is a safe, modern convenience that makes life in the summer much more enjoyable. Then again, when not properly maintained and cleaned, your air conditioning unit and ducts can harbor harmful mold and bacteria that are less-than-healthy. Play it safe and have your HVAC system regularly maintained in the following ways:
Have Your Filters Replaced Regularly
Depending upon a variety of factors, you might have to change the filters on your HVAC system quite frequently:
- If it's housed in unfinished cellar with a dirt floor
- If you live in a dry, dusty climate
- If you own indoor pets that shed hair
Whether you need them changed out every month or once every six months is something your HVAC technician can suggest, based upon his inspection of the unit.
Take Care of your Condenser and Evaporator Coils
Having the coils cleaned regularly is beneficial for several reasons:
- It helps increase the energy efficiency of your system.
- It keeps mold and bacteria from forming on the evaporator coil.
- It can lengthen the life of your HVAC unit.
Cleaning the coils can be a heavy job if not done on a regular basis. If you've never had it done, or if it's been a long time between cleanings, it's best to call in a professional to help.
Have the Damper Cleaned and Adjusted
A stuck damper will impact the quality and comfort of your indoor air. Once the damper becomes stuck -- either from debris or from improper lubrication -- it can no longer regulate the correct flow of air into your home, and this can lead to extra energy use and uncomfortable indoor room temperatures. Have it cleaned and oiled intermittently.
Keep an Eye Out for Pooled or Standing Water
The area around your air-intake can collect pooled water if not properly maintained. Check this spot often for standing water that can harbor dangerous mold and insects. These can then be sucked into your system through your air-handler and distributed throughout your home, causing illness and irritating allergies. Mold and bacteria are major contributors to respiratory ailments. So if that summer cold seems to linger longer than necessary, your HVAC unit could be the culprit.
Be Alert to Odd Odors
If you're blasted with an unpleasant, old, or musty odor when you walk past your registers, it's a good bet something is growing or forming inside your duct work. Ducts should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected for leaks at least annually. Doing so will not only prevent the growth and distribution of bacteria, it will also increase the efficiency and power of your air conditioning system.
It doesn't cost that much to have your HVAC system inspected and cleaned on a regular basis, and doing so will help keep it running much better for a longer period of time. More importantly, regular preventative maintenance will help keep the air you breathe inside your home healthier and at a more comfortable temperature. So the next time you find yourself wondering if cooties could be lurking inside the ducts or walls of your home, give yourself peace of mind by calling in an expert in air conditioning repair. He'll thoroughly inspect both the indoor and outdoor aspects of your cooling system to make your home that much more comfortable and clean.