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How Does Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality Impact the HVAC System?


Today’s homes are more tightly built and weatherized than ever before to help reduce heating and cooling energy consumption. Many homes lack adequate ventilation, though, resulting in high levels of indoor pollution from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), biological contaminants and an array of potentially harmful particles. These pollutants all have serious negative health implications, but airborne particles can also impact a home’s HVAC system.

Indoor Air Quality Affects the HVAC System

Pollution particles can enter an HVAC system through the return air supply and leaks in the ductwork. Common household dust that’s pulled in through the return registers can introduce pollen, skin cells, animal dander, hair and soot. Poorly sealed ducting can allow insect parts, insulation fibers, pest droppings and other undesirable contaminants to enter from the attic, basement and wall cavities. If the system’s air filter doesn’t catch them, these pollutants can wreak havoc on key HVAC components including:

  • The evaporator coil – Dirt particles create a barrier to critical heat transfer, which reduces an A/C’s cooling capacity and its ability to remove humidity.
  • The ductwork system – If the ducting is insulated, the material used may trap airborne particles. If excess moisture is absorbed too, the ductwork can become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and viruses.
  • The outdoor compressor – Running an A/C with a layer of dirt on the coil raises the temperature and pressure within the system, and this can degrade the compressor lubricant. The resulting friction can lead to an expensive compressor failure.
  • The blower motor – Dirt inside the HVAC system can build up on the motor, causing undue strain and wear, greater energy consumption and overheating. Not only can this shorten the motor’s service life, it creates a serious fire hazard.
  • The furnace heat exchanger – If the air filter becomes plugged by excessive amounts of dust and debris and airflow is restricted, the extra strain that’s placed on the heat exchanger can cause it to fail prematurely.

Contact us today at HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited Heating & Air Conditioning to learn more about how indoor air quality affects the HVAC system in your Fairfax or Alexandria area home.

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