Does the beginning of the heating season always seem to trigger allergies? Dry coughs, burning eyes, nasal drip -- these could all be the result of dust or even mold in your duct system. The following guide can help you prevent dust and mold issues, as well as providing tips on what to do if you already have a dust problem.
Tip #1: Change the filter in fall
Many people do a furnace filter change when they are shutting down the system for summer. Unfortunately, dust and mold spores can settle on the filter during the long summer months. It will then blow into your duct systems and from there into your home. Instead, remove the filter in the spring and vacuum out the housing that the filter slides into. Leave a note on your furnace thermostat to not run the furnace until you replace the filter. Then, in the fall you can install a dust-free new filter right before you fire up the system for the season.
Tip #2: Close your vents
Dust doesn't just magically appear in your vents, it gets in there from the outside. When you aren't using the furnace, close the vents so dust can't get inside. Note that you shouldn't do this if you have central air conditioning that uses the same vents or returns. If you are doing any type of work in your home, you need to go a step further. Remodeling and construction produce a lot of dust, which will settle into the duct system. Cover each vent with a sheet of plastic and tape it in place to keep the dust out while work is being done on your home. Just make sure to remove the plastic as soon as the work is done and before you turn the furnace back on.
Tip #3: Schedule a professional duct cleaning
If your ducts are already dusty or filled with mold, you need to schedule a cleaning. A duct cleaning company will use a special vacuum to suck most of the dust and mold spores out of the system. They will likely then feed cameras into the system to find any areas that were missed, then special brush tools will be used to knock down the debris in these areas so it can be vacuumed up. If mold is an issue, they may also use a chemical treatment to kill the spores.
Contact an air duct cleaning service if you have more questions.