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Fixing HVAC issues: A Responsibility, Not an Option

Dirty indoor HVAC equipment, indoor air pollution, and dirty, leaky, or undersized ductwork cause a variety of mechanical problems for the equipment, and damage the environment. The problems they cause for the building's occupants can be financial, health-related, and emotional. These conditions must be taken seriously by HVAC professionals, and we should stop presenting solutions to them as "optional."

What Clogs Coils?
We've all seen clogged coils. What is it that clogs indoor blowers and coils, and why does that stuff smell so bad? Dirt doesn't necessarily smell bad. In fact, clean dirt can actually smell good.

We've all seen mold on coils. Mold does not necessarily smell bad. I happen to cultivate mold for my worm farm, and it smells good.

Humans shed 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every minute. Many of them are sucked into the air return and lodge in the ductwork, the blower wheel, or the evaporator coil. Dead, rotting skin cells breed bacteria, clog equipment, stink, and are disgusting.

Dirty blowers and clogged indoor coils cause high utility bills, which are an unnecessary expense.

All use of electricity, natural gas, propane, or heating oil contributes to pollution and climate change. Any waste of fossil fuel increases America's dependency on foreign oil. Much of the oil we buy is purchased from countries that support terrorism and hate America. By extension, any waste of fossil fuel financially supports terrorism.

Impeded airflow causes premature compressor and heat exchanger failure, and will, over a period of time, cause every single component of the furnace to wear out prematurely, which is expensive, a waste of natural resources, and stressful.

Leaking ductwork causes unnecessary airborne dust, allergens and carcinogens. Leaky ductwork sucks carcinogenic insulation, dirt, insects, insect parts, insect feces, and insect eggs into the conditioned space. This causes the structure to require more cleaning and dusting. More cleaning and dusting results in the additional use of toxic cleaning chemicals, which are harmful to the environment and the building’s occupants, and are an unnecessary expense.

Anything that causes decreased airflow also causes comfort problems with uneven temperatures, and inadequate dehumidification. This results in people making negative comments about their comfort and even leads to arguments about thermostat settings.

Insomnia and Its Consequences
Improper heating and cooling can result in sleep deprivation, which causes problems at work, school, and play. Consequences of sleep deprivation are an overall lack of energy, a generally pessimistic attitude, and irritability, which causes problems with other people.

Insomniacs often have weight control issues because insomniacs tend to eat in the middle of the night while others are sleeping. Insufficient sleep affects the secretion of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which govern both the sensation of hunger and feeling full. When this is disrupted, there is a tendency to eat more and yet feel less full. Inadequate sleep interferes with the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates and this causes high blood levels of glucose, which in turn leads to higher insulin levels and greater body fat storage. Insomnia reduces levels of growth hormone, a protein that helps regulate the body's proportions of fat and muscle.

Insomnia can lead to insulin resistance and contribute to increased risk of diabetes. It can increase blood pressure and the risk of coronary heart disease. These are life-threatening conditions that can be caused by HVAC problems that exist in most homes.

Sinus Trouble and Allergies
Dirty air leads to sinus trouble, which means the expense and time spent on visits to doctors, labs, and pharmacies.

The medications used to treat sinus and allergy issues cause side effects, such as fatigue, trouble concentrating, and a drying of the mucous membranes, which interferes with the body’s immune system.

Sinus trouble and allergies usually cause stomach trouble, sleep disorders, and headaches.

A condition that requires constant wiping or blowing of the nose, and/or causes asthma, an unattractive coated tongue, bad breath, and missed work (or school) carries a stigma.

Sinus Trouble and Depression
There is a correlation between chronic sinus and allergy trouble and depression. Persons suffering from chronic sinus and allergy problems are twice as likely to also suffer from depression, and the chronically depressed are twice as likely to also have chronic sinus trouble.

There are several theories as to why this would be. A glance at a cross-section of the human head and a little knowledge of human anatomy tells the whole story. The nerve endings at the very back of the sinus cavities are the only part of the brain that is exposed the atmosphere. They’re part of the limbic system, which is a group of interconnected structures that mediate emotions, learning and memory. This all butts up against the frontal lobes, which are the brain's emotional control center. A chronic inflammation in these two regions causes emotional issues.

On a Personal Note
I suffered from severe, chronic sinus trouble and severe, chronic depression for 28 years. I am 56 years old. As of this printing, I have officially crossed the threshold to where I have spent over half my life un-depressed. That's a huge milestone for me. The depression and the sinus trouble arrived in my life at the same time. They also left at the same time. When my sinus trouble went away, my depression magically went along with it. That was 16 years ago.

A significant portion of cancer patients, when they're initially diagnosed, decline treatment and have to be convinced to try it. The same is true of people whose equipment is in dire need of service or replacing.

Depression is a life-altering condition and is also life-threatening. For that matter, so are insomnia and obesity. Dirty indoor equipment, and dirty, undersized, leaky ductwork should be considered as serious a risk to health and safety as a cracked heat exchanger.

The next time you enter a structure with dirty equipment, and its occupants are overweight and have runny noses, cleaning the equipment and the air is not an option. It's mandatory. Think about the implications of your conversation with them. They'll take their lead off you. If they decide not have those conditions resolved because you were incapable of convincing them to take corrective action, that decision will absolutely have a negative effect on every aspect of their lives.

If, on the other hand, they allow you to clean up their equipment, improve their air, and straighten out their duct problems, you may very well have saved lives.

Charlie Greer can teach you how to sell Indoor Air Quality solutions and duct renovations on the audio CD, "Over The Top HVAC Sales on Audio CD." It's only $19.95 and is available at or by calling 800/963-HVAC (4822). Email Charlie at [email protected]

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