Why Is My House Always So Dusty? (Hint: Blame Your HVAC System)

By February 12, 2019 Air Quality
Why Is My House Always So Dusty? (Hint: Blame Your HVAC System)

It coats the surface of your favorite antique desk. Floats down to land on your computer keyboard. Sits on every cable, floorboard and bevel in your cabinets. Somehow it even clings to vertical surfaces, like your TV and mirrors.

Dust is a household nemesis, defying dark hardwoods everywhere, making chores, well, a real chore, and even driving some of us mad with allergies. Do you ever wonder where on earth it all comes from, and why, lately, there seems to be so much of it? No matter how you clean, is the dust simply never-ending?

You’re not alone – and you’re not a terrible house keeper, either. Your dust problem may just be caused by your HVAC system. Here’s why, and what you can do to mitigate the problem.

Cheap Filters

Do you tend to forget to change your HVAC filters, then when you do remember, you notice they aren’t that dirty anyway? Maybe you wait a little longer before changing them, and congratulate yourself for keeping the house so clean.

Chances are that the reason they’re so clean isn’t thanks to your dusting skills. It’s that the filters were too cheap to trap the dust in the first place.

Dust isn’t going anywhere, so if your filters aren’t catching it, that just means it’s being recirculated from room to room throughout your home. If you notice more of it on your dresser than in your filters, then it’s time for a better quality filter.

Filters have a MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The rating is on a scale from 1 to 16. The higher the rating, the more particles the filter traps.

Before you go out and buy the highest rating available in hopes of keeping that dust rag out of your hands for a little while, check to see what rating is recommended for your system. Choosing a filter with a MERV rating that’s too high can restrict airflow and cause a different kind of problem altogether. But do avoid the cheapest, lowest rated filters because chances are they’ll only contribute to your dust problem.

Want a pro to change your filters and clean your system twice as year? Ask about our maintenance contracts.

Dirty Filters

Even the best-rated filters won’t do much good if they’re already clogged with dust and grime. Filters should typically be replaced every three months, so set yourself a reminder and do it! Changing a dirty filter will do a lot more for your dust problem than hours more of dusting.

If you have pets that shed, you may want to replace your filters even more often. If you start to notice more dust in your home than usual, it’s a good sign that your filters have been doing their job and it’s time to retire them.

Being regular about replacing filters will not only keep your home in better dust-free shape, but it will help keep your entire HVAC system functioning more efficiently. Air will flow more freely, less energy will be consumed, and you’ll save money on heating and cooling costs. Plus you’ll avoid clogging the system and help prevent costly repairs down the line.

Leaky Ducts

There’s probably no obvious sign that you have leaky ducts, but excessive dust that never seems to go away no matter how you try may be one. Leaks can happen in a few different ways. They could be a result of poor workmanship during installation. They could result from tears caused by uninvited critters. They could simply be a symptom of old ducts where the sealant has become worn out.

If your ducts have leaks, dust can be flowing into your system from spots beyond your filter’s ability to trap, and then circulated throughout your home every time you turn the system on.

If you see a sudden increase in dust, experience excessive allergy symptoms, or notice spots where it’s unusually hot or cold, it may be time to have a professional take a look. Ducts can leak whether they’re in the attic, basement or walls, so it may not be something you can spot on your own. Whatever that cause, your HVAC contractor can find the source of leaks and let you know what your best course of action is.

Dry Air

Does your house get as dry as a bone during winter? Dust flows more freely through dry air, and travels farther, which means all things being equal, a dry home will be dustier than one that is at normal or higher levels of humidity.

If you’ve ever run a dry cloth over your desk and watched as a swirl of dust took off into the air then you know exactly what we mean.

There’s not much you can do about the weather, but you can certainly mitigate its effects with a whole-house humidifier. It can be attached directly to your HVAC system where it will help to regulate humidity levels.

Maintaining proper humidity will not only keep your dust problem in check, but it’s better for your health and better for the health of your HVAC system.

If humidity (or lack of it) is a problem for you, let us help. Get a free estimate for a whole house humidifier.

Circulation

You may never have thought about it this way, but your house breathes all day long! Air comes in and goes out through the tiniest holes and gaps, through electrical outlets, and around doors and windows.

And air that gets sucked into your house may be coming through the dirtiest, dustiest areas – like your attic, crawl space and walls, or on the kids’ shoes and the dog’s paws.

It’s great to run your heat or air conditioner all day so you can maintain a nice, comfortable temperature, but when you do you’re constantly pulling and pushing dust around.

Your HVAC system is designed to move air around your house, room to room, in and out. It is, quite literally, creating the problem you’re trying to eliminate!

The good news is that with a couple of preventative measures like swapping out your filters and plugging any leaks, you can help stem the flow of dust. You can also install an air purifier to make things even better.

Attached to your ducts, an air purifier is designed to help trap dust and other airborne particles before they get recirculated through your home. An air purifier in combination with traditional filters can make a tremendous difference in creating cleaner, healthier, and less dusty air.

If you’re tired of all the dust and want your HVAC system to do a better job of controlling it, let’s talk. Whether you’ve got leaks, or could benefit from air filtration and proper humidification, we can help. We’ll visit your home and provide a free estimate to install, repair or maintain your HVAC system so your whole family can breathe easier.