The recent trend toward energy conservation has led to tighter home construction and more effective weatherization. Unless there’s ample ventilation, today’s homes can trap a cocktail of pollutants indoors, including biological contaminants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), allergens and a host of airborne particles. All types of indoor pollution can affect health and well-being, but high levels of airborne particles have a direct impact on the HVAC system.

Indoor Air Quality and the HVAC System

Harmful particles can get inside the HVAC system in two ways: through the return air registers and/or gaps in the ductwork. Regular household dust that enters through the return registers can contain an array of particles such as animal dander, skin cells, plant pollen, soot and hair. If ducting runs through the wall cavities, attic or basement aren’t sealed properly, pest droppings, insect parts and even insulation fibers can be drawn inside.

Once the air filter gets overloaded, it can’t keep these pollutants from negatively impacting essential system components such as:

  • Blower – Particles circulating through the HVAC system can accumulate on the blower motor, making it work harder. This increases energy consumption and could cause the motor to overheat and fail. Overheating also heightens the danger of fire.
  • Ductwork – When dust particles and moisture get trapped inside ducts, it can become the ideal growth environment for mold, viruses and bacteria.
  • Indoor cooling coil As particles build up on the coil, they block crucial heat transfer and decrease cooling capacity and humidity control.
  • Compressor – If the system runs with a dirty coil, the operating pressure and temperature inside the system rises. Over time, this can deteriorate the compressor’s lubricant, leading to friction that causes an expensive, premature failure.
  • Heat exchanger – Airflow restrictions caused by a particle buildup on the air filter can put undue strain on the furnace heat exchanger that shortens its expected life span.

To learn more about the relationship between indoor air quality and the HVAC system in your Greater Cincinnati home, contact us at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today.

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