If your HVAC system is the star of the show, then consider your ducts as the unseen backstage workers that make it all happen. Unfortunately, the background status of your ductwork makes them easy to ignore – at least until extreme dust and debris buildup makes them all but impossible to ignore. That explains why some households go years without cleaning their ducts.
Dirty ducts come with consequences, however. The following highlights three serious risks you'll face if you don't clean your HVAC ducts on a regular basis.
1. Unhealthy Air
Dust, allergens, and pollutants are an unavoidable part of your home's indoor air. Unfortunately, these contaminants often find a home inside your HVAC ductwork. As the ducts circulate conditioned air throughout your home, allergens and pollutants can also hitch a free ride unless they're properly filtered out.
The problem gets worse if you don't change your HVAC air filters regularly. Without clean air filters, the buildup continues unabated and your home's indoor air quality plummets. You may start feeling fatigued and short of breath – one of the many common symptoms of poor indoor air quality.
2. Overheated Furnace
Furnace overheating is another risk you may encounter with dirty HVAC ducts. Dirty ducts can significantly limit airflow throughout the HVAC system. As your ducts become progressively clogged with dust and debris, it becomes harder for your HVAC system to push conditioned air through the ductwork.
Hot spots can develop in areas where there's not enough airflow to move heat. As a result, components like the heat exchanger can overheat and malfunction due to airflow problems caused by dirty ducts.
Under normal circumstances, the HVAC system's limit switch prevents overheating by shutting the furnace down once it reaches excess temperatures. However, clogged ducts can cause the limit switch to malfunction, putting your HVAC equipment at risk of premature failure.
3. Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Dirty ducts come with yet another potential risk – increased carbon monoxide levels. The odorless, colorless gas can build up due to higher internal furnace temperatures and reduced airflow caused by dirty ducts. Short-term exposure to carbon monoxide can cause a variety of symptoms, including dizziness and headaches. Moderate exposure over prolonged period can prove fatal.
The best way to lower your risk of carbon monoxide exposure is by keeping your HVAC ducts free of dust and debris. An annual duct cleaning, along with frequent inspection of your carbon monoxide detectors, will prevent your ducts from becoming a potentially deadly hazard.