The Dastardly Dusting Dilemma

Spring is in the air. But it’s not the only thing in the air. Dust is in the air too. In fact, it’s always there. And it’s on your furniture, your shelves, even your proud collection of antique snow globes.

If you find yourself dusting all the time it’s not necessarily a sign that you need to declutter before you end up featured on an episode of “Hoarders”. It might be that your HVAC system just isn’t getting the job done.

Dust. What is it and why do I have so much of it?

Dust seems like a simple thing but it’s actually a complex mix of a lot of little things. Dust is made up of a wide range of microparticles that are released into the air. When it comes to your home, the somewhat unpleasant truth of the matter is that dust is mostly made up of your family’s skin and hair. If you’ve got pets, you can throw some little bits of them in there too. Feeling a little bit grossed out? Relax. Take a few deep breaths. Oh, wait. On second thought…

In all seriousness, dust can’t really hurt you but if you or anyone in your family has allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions dust can act as an irritant and make symptoms and adverse reactions worse. There’s not much you can do to eliminate dust from your home, but if your house seems really dusty to you the problem is probably not that too much dust is being created but rather that it is not being removed effectively enough.

OK, so what’s the solution?

If you want to get serious about busting the dust you first need to start fighting the dust on its home turf. Ground forces won’t win this war. This is a battle of air superiority. Think about it. The dust that you can see – all the dust that has settled on your furniture and other surfaces in your home – that’s only a fraction of the dust at the root of this problem. Most of the dust in your home (well over 90% of it, in fact) is floating around in the air. In all honesty, trying to beat dust by vacuuming or dusting actually only makes the situation worse by returning a lot of that settled dust back into the air.

When it comes to taking dust out of the air you need help. That’s where your HVAC system comes to the rescue. But how can you tell the job is getting done right? There are two important things you can do to make sure your ventilation system is at the top of its dust-busting game.

Focus on your Filters

Your filters are your first line of defence and you need to maintain them accordingly. First of all, be sure to change your filters every 2-4 months. A good filter catches a lot of dust and other particulate matter and keeps it from recirculating back into your air. That means it can fill up quick and dirty filter isn’t doing you any good at all. When air can’t pass through your filter it bounces off, taking the dust it’s carrying with it, where finds somewhere else to settle.

Secondly, if you want to win the war on dust then your filters aren’t a good place to try and save a few pennies. Cheap, spun-fiberglass filters trap only the biggest chunks of dust and do almost nothing to improve indoor air quality. For the best results, buy pleated filters that are appropriately rated for the blower capacity of your system. As long as you change them regularly, high quality filters will make a significant and noticeable difference.

Deal with your Ducts

The better sealed your ventilation system is, the more efficient and effective it will be at everything, including dust management. Unfortunately, most systems aren’t all that well sealed. In fact, some estimates suggest that as much as 20% of the air that runs through the typical residential forced-air system is lost through holes or gaps around fittings or unsealed joints in the duct work. You probably have leaky ducts.

Leaky ducts allow air to escape and enter the system without passing through filters, contributing significantly to your dust problem. To fix the issue, a heating contractor can pressure test your system, seal the leaks and clean out your ducts. This will reduce the dust in your home and also improve the overall efficiency of your HVAC system.

Routine filter and duct maintenance are two of the biggest things you can do to reduce dust in your home but there are also other tools available to help eliminate even more dust, such as installing an air purification system or addressing humidity issues. If reducing dust and other in-home allergens is a priority for you, talk to one of our knowledgeable HVAC professionals. They can give you helpful advice, guide you through all your available options, and help build a custom plan uniquely suited to your home.