An HVAC professional with Virginia’s Able Air-1, Inc. , Aris Parviz says thatyour HVAC system, if not properly maintained and monitored, can actually make you sick. Regular professional maintenance and attention to air quality are the keys to avoiding many health and safety risks posed by HVAC systems.
Whether due to damage or inadequate maintenance, your HVAC system can quickly become a safety hazard for you and your family. Here are some HVAC-related health and safety issues you and your family should be aware of.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is the most common and serious safety concern with any home HVAC system. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious, possibly fatal, situation that can arise when any gas-burning system in your home is damaged, improperly installed or inadequately maintained. And it can cause brain damage or even death.
Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, it’s impossible to detect until you or someone in your family becomes ill. The first symptoms are usually similar to the flu — headaches, nausea and fatigue — so they’re often ignored. But long-term exposure can be deadly; and children, infants and individuals with chronic health conditions are at particular risk.
A cracked heat exchanger is one common cause of carbon monoxide in a home, especially in older furnaces. The best way to avoid the poisoning is to have your heating system inspected and serviced by a trained professional every winter. Because the poisoning can occur quickly, it’s important to understand and watch for the early symptoms. A carbon monoxide detector should also be an integral part of any home safety system.
Moisture control is becoming an important consideration for any HVAC system. A lack of humidity in winter months or dry climates can cause breathing difficulties, cracked skin, dry lips, sore throat and other health problems. Dry nasal passages leave your family prone to infection and respiratory illness, and can worsen cold and flu symptoms. Beyond impacting your family’s health and safety, dry air can also damage your home. Cracked and separating hardwood floors, molding and furniture are just some costly results of inadequate humidity. You can contribute to the health of your family as well as to your home’s longevity by installing a humidifier to regulate indoor moisture levels.
Incorrect Air Filtration
Incorrect air filtration can also pose a hazard to your family’s health. Poor indoor air quality - whether due to dust, allergens or airborne irritants - is one of the most common contributors to respiratory problems and illnesses. Individuals with underlying respiratory conditions like asthma or allergies are especially vulnerable. Many health problems can occur as the result of poor air quality, ranging in severity from mild headaches to severe allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. Preventive maintenance and regular replacement of air filters is necessary to keep your home’s indoor air safe for everyone.
In addition, electrical issues pose risks as well. One common problem is a water leak within an HVAC system. It’s usual for an air conditioner’s condensation drain to become clogged after a few years of use. This can cause water to leak onto the system’s electrical components, result in equipment failure, and creates the risk of electric shock. Therefore, air conditioner repair is not something the average homeowner should handle himself. An experienced HVAC contractor will be aware of potential risks, and take the appropriate precautions. Regular preventive maintenance of your air conditioning system is necessary to avoid this type of risk.
The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.