When you turn on your HVAC system, you expect warm or cool air. What you may not know, however, is that you may be getting more than just air when your system turns on. If the HVAC system is not clean, or the filter is dirty, it can cause airborne illnesses in your home that can affect you and your family.
Legionnaires' disease is an inflammation of the lungs that is caused by bacteria known as legionella. You cannot get this disease from a person, but contract it by inhaling bacteria in the air.
The legionella bacterium can be found in the moist areas, such as around the coil and drain pan, air intake, and cooling tower, of your HVAC system. Unless cleaned regularly, the bacterium comes out through the vents in your home when the system is running.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Acanthamoeba is a microscopic single celled living organism (amoeba) that causes illness. Once the infection enters the body, it travels through the bloodstream to other areas, such as the spinal cord, brain, and lungs. In most cases, it affects the eyes, and causes eye irritation, blurred vision, eye redness, and sensitivity to light.
Acanthamoeba can be found in your HVAC system where there is moisture, as well as in a dirty air filter. It is an airborne infection so it easily spreads throughout your home. It is not common, but there is still a chance of contracting it if your HVAC system is not maintained
Dirty Sock Syndrome
You can get Dirty Sock Syndrome if mold and bacteria grows on the indoor coil and drain pan of your HVAC system. During the summer months, the coils are cool and moist, and are the perfect home for mold and bacteria to grow. In the winter when you turn the heat on, the mold heats up and release spores throughout your home.
If you have this problem, your home will smell like dirty socks when your HVAC system is running. The smell can be very strong so there is no mistaking that you have this problem. If you have someone in your home that has allergies or asthma, the mold spores in the air may cause their symptoms to become worse.
To take care of these problems, contact an HVAC contractor, like the ones at Century Heating & Air Conditioning Services, to schedule regular maintenance of your HVAC system. You should also make sure you clean or change out your air filters regularly.