The dos and don’ts of keeping your vents clean

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Are you old enough to remember plastic-covered couches? (I won’t make you admit it!) But legend has it that people used to wrap their furniture and lampshades in cellophane in a futile attempt to keep them from getting dusty. 

Can you imagine? Walking into your home, kicking off your shoes (as all good Canadians do), and throwing yourself onto a plastic tarp to relax for the evening? It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but it goes to show you what people are willing to do to keep their homes dust-free.

A much easier way to enjoy a clean home today is by maintaining your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system and ducts. This is the central highway system for all the air circulation in your home, and neglecting it is a sure-fire way to find yourself sharing space with dust … and the dust mites that feed on it.

Want a dust-free home? Here’s a quick list of the dos and don’ts to keep your vents – and your home – clean.

DO dust and vacuum often.

Giving your home a thorough cleaning on a regular basis is your best prevention for dust buildup. Dust is largely made up of dead human skin cells, so even keeping your windows closed won’t help you avoid dust bunnies. 

Dust your highest surfaces first, working down towards the floor so you can capture any dust that resettles. A damp microfibre cloth or disposable dusting sheet will effectively grab the dust and remove it. 

Your vacuum should have a HEPA filter, which is highly efficient at removing particulates like mold spores, dust, dust mites, and pet dander. Be sure to clean your vacuum’s filters regularly to maintain optimal function.

DON’T assume you can outsmart dust.

Wrapping your furniture in plastic might keep your couch from accumulating dust, but it’ll still be present in the rest of your living space. It’s much better to dust and vacuum regularly, including upholstered furniture. A well-maintained home is less likely to have dusty surfaces that allow dust to be pulled back through cold air return vents, where it continuously recirculates in your home’s air. 

Another outdated solution to dust is using cheesecloth to cover your vents. All this does is lessen air flow, meaning that the air doesn’t circulate effectively in your home and therefore isn’t filtered properly. It also forces your HVAC system to work harder to maintain an ideal temperature, which uses more energy and can cause damage to the system. Cheese cloth is also a fire hazard, so it’s a definite don’t.

DO change your air filter often.

Much more effective than cheesecloth, a high efficiency furnace filter is designed to effectively catch airborne particles like dust and hair, preventing them from continuing to circulate in your air. 

Choose a HEPA filter and replace it every 1-3 months. Better quality filters both work better and last longer, so buy the best one you can afford. It’s a good idea to ask your HVAC service technician for a recommendation – they’ll be able to make a suggestion based on the unique demands of your family and system.

DON’T cheap out on filters and purifiers.

Like we said, better quality filters work better. This is good news for the air quality in your home, but it’s also good for your HVAC system. Regularly changing your filters will help your system operate efficiently, without reduced air flow from clogged filters. And catching as many particulates as possible keeps your entire system humming and happy, preventing unnecessary breakdowns.

If you’re curious about your home’s air quality, you can ask your service provider to test it. They can measure the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home, which will give you a clear picture of your indoor air quality. 

Concerned about your air quality? Buying an air purifier with an activated carbon filter is a solid investment. Along with HEPA filters in your HVAC system, an air purifier can further reduce particles (dust, pollen, dander, hair), infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, biological substances), and chemical gases (formaldehyde, benzene) in your home. This will help ease allergic symptoms and lessen the frequency of illnesses.

DO schedule regular maintenance for your HVAC system.

Preventive maintenance and regular cleaning of your HVAC system can ensure it’ll keep working efficiently for a long time. Your service provider will be able to check for leaky ducts that are pulling in extra dust. They’ll also clean your coils, drain pans, and moving parts to remove any particles.

In addition to having your HVAC system inspected regularly, it’s essential to have your ducts cleaned. A professional duct cleaning company can effectively remove all the dust, debris, and crud that builds up in your ductwork over time. Ideally, book a professional cleaning every 1 to 3 years, or more often if you move frequently, suffer from asthma or allergies, or have pets and children.

DON’T count on dust being out of sight, out of mind.

Just because you can’t see your dirty ducts doesn’t mean the gobs of dust, pollen, hair, pet dander, and other allergens and irritants aren’t building up. Out of sight, maybe, but optimal air quality and health should always be on your mind.

If you’ve noticed dust building up on your home’s surfaces, found dust bunnies accumulating behind furniture, or experienced an increase in allergic symptoms, it’s time to get those ducts checked and cleaned. In Winnipeg, Whyte Ridge provides reliable, trustworthy service using top-of-the-line negative air equipment for a thorough and effective cleaning.

Good maintenance is essential to preserve your home’s value as well as the health of its occupants. This includes having your HVAC system properly maintained and ducts regularly cleaned. Ditch the plastic couch covers, but book an appointment with Whyte Ridge to have your ducts cleaned this spring, and enjoy the many benefits of a dust-free home.