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Archive for the allergies category

Time to Change Your Furnace Filter?

By Dave Trosdahl on January 6th, 2008

Here’s a question we are asked all the time; “How often do I need to change my furnace filter?”. While there are many factors involved, a good rule of thumb is to change your furnace filter every month. here are some of the factors to consider when deciding how often you should change the furnace filter in your home:

  • Is your house dusty? – A house with dirty air ducts will blow dust and dirt around the house and will ultimately assist in plugging up the filter faster. If it’s been a while since you had your air ducts cleaned, play it safe and get them cleaned.
  • Do you have pets? Cats and dogs are notorious for shedding hair which will eventually find it’s way into your heating and cooling system.
  • How often does your furnace run? If you live in Minneapolis or New York City, chances are your furnace will run a lot more than if you live in Atlanta.  On the other hand, the people that live in Atlanta will run their A/C a lot more than the folks who live in the northern climates.
  • Are you bothered by allergies? You might be tempted to go out and purchase a HEPA filter, but be prepared to pay for it twice! Not only will you pay more for it and still have to replace it every 6 months or so, your furnace will be required to work much harder to draw air through the filter.
  • If you have an electrostatic furnace filter you will need to wash it as recommended by the manufacturer.

No matter what you decide, remember that if there is a forced air system in the home or office the filter must be changed regularly and duct cleaning should be considered as a part of routine home maintenance. Doing so will help insure that your family is breathing cleaner air and your heating/cooling system is not overworking.

Is Air Duct Cleaning Really Necessary?

By Dave Trosdahl on October 28th, 2007

Is Air Duct Cleaning Right for You?

To best answer the question “Is air duct cleaning really necessary?”, you might want to ask yourself “is carpet cleaning really necessary?” or “is cleaning my refrigerator coils really necessary?”. It all depends on whose air ducts we are talking about.

Legionaires’ Disease

In deciding if air duct cleaning is right for you, it might be helpful to understand how air duct cleaning was started in the first place. According to Tim Hebert, president of an air duct cleaning association based in Washington D.C., his theory is that it all started in July 1976, in a hotel in downtown Philadelphia. The American Legion was holding a statewide convention in the city, when suddenly the legionnaires mysteriously began falling ill with pneumonia. More than 200 people got sick and 34 died.

The source of the pneumonia was a strain of bacteria that was unrecognized at the time, and which was later dubbed legionella pneumophilia. It had spread through the hotel’s heating and cooling system, flowing into every room in the hotel through the air conditioning.

According to Wikipedia; “L. pneumophila was first recognized after a 1976 outbreak among a group of elderly men attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (hence the name Legionaires’ disease). This outbreak affected over 200 individuals, with 34 fatalities.”

Indoor Air Pollution or “Sick Building Syndrome”

Hebert credits the outbreak with spurring public interest in indoor air pollution, an entirely new concept to a generation of Americans who had grown accustomed to the joys of air-conditioned buildings in the summer and cozy, air-tight interiors in the winter. What had seemed like sensible energy-efficiency in the 1970s suddenly had a bad side. People started talking about “sick buildings”.

Since the 1970’s a lot of different theories have emerged, ranging from; clean your air ducts annually at an affordable price of around $100, to clean it once every 7 years for an exhorborant amount oftentimes exceeding $1,000

Deciding on Air Duct Cleaning

If you are healthy, have no pets, and your home is nearly dust free, perhaps an annual cleaning might be overkill, on the other hand, if you suffer from allergies or other respiratory or health conditions, is once every 7 years enough? You might want to consult with an allergist, but you will ultimately need to determine what amount of dust dirt and debris you are comfortable with.

Allergist Talks About the Importance of Seasonal Air Duct Cleaning

By Dave Trosdahl on October 18th, 2007

We thought this interview was worth posting as it clearly defines the importance of air duct cleaning. While the author of the 10 year old EPA publication about air duct cleaning down plays the connection between allergies and dirty air ducts, common sense and even allergists tell us otherwise.

If you suffer from allergies and haven’t had your air ducts cleaned recently, we recommend spending the $99 and just taking care of it. Make sure the duct cleaner you hire also has the ability to thoroughly clean and inspect your furnace while they are out.

Out with summer, in with indoor allergies
Oshkosh Northwestern
Krista Brown

The seasonal allergy time is winding down, but as the temperatures cool and windows are closed for the year, allergy sufferers face a new culprit – indoor allergens.

Jeffrey Glassheim, ThedaCare allergist, said he believes more people suffer from indoor allergies than outdoor, which makes for a rough season for his patients. The big problem occurs, he said, when allergy-sufferers turn on their furnace for the first time.

“If people haven’t cleaned their ducts, there are almost always irritants and residual allergens that are going to set them off,” Glassheim said.

At the very least, he said, people can change the filters in their furnace, which can help control mites and dander.

Pet dander, dust mites, mold and cockroaches are most often the culprits of indoor allergies. And while frequent vacuuming and maximizing hardwood and tile while minimizing carpeting can help, proper furnace filtration and duct cleaning will be most beneficial, he said.

“People say when the heat comes on for the first time, it’s terrible,” he said. “And people are usually living with (these allergens) all year. It’s like living in a sea of them.”

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s edition of the Northwestern.