Is My HVAC System Making Me Sick?

Not feeling well? It could be your HVAC system that’s to blame. Heating and cooling systems that aren’t regularly inspected and maintained can harbor all kinds of scary secrets, and the worst of these could make you or your family seriously ill. Having an annual inspection performed on the unit and on the ductwork that connects it to every room in your home is a simple fix that could quite literally save your life. Here’s what we know about the dangers of a neglected HVAC system.

Black Mold Can Spell Disaster

You’ve probably heard of black mold, and maybe you’ve even seen it. Many homes suffer occasional breakouts of this toxic form of mold. Severe or prolonged exposure to black mold can cause hospitalization or permanent respiratory issues. 

Small patches can be cleaned up safely with tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract. But when mold grows undetected inside your home’s ductwork, your HVAC system can spread spores throughout your home, causing a variety of problems for everyone who lives there, including:

  • Chronic Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Allergies
  • Pneumonia

Luckily for homeowners in South Texas, black mold is an uncommon occurrence. However, many homeowners often mistake mildew in their HVAC systems for black mold. Mildew can be relatively harmless and usually only affects people who are very sensitive to allergens. The remedy for mildew is often a UV light that can damage the equipment.  Homeowners should be aware that there are a lot of HVAC companies that sell a ton of useless, expensive accessories and services by scaring homeowners with “mold” when it’s actually just harmless mildew. There are legitimate uses for UV lights and electronic air cleaning, but it’s also an easy sell to an over-concerned, under-informed homeowner. 

The good news is that you can keep toxic molds and bacteria from taking root in your home simply by having your unit, filters and ductwork inspected by a professional HVAC technician once or twice a year.

Infestations Can Make You Sick

If mice regularly use the ductwork in your home as the quickest way to get from point to point, your vents could be filled with mouse urine and droppings — two known causes of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, or HPS. In the United States, several types of rodents can carry and spread HPS, including the white-footed mouse, the deer mouse, the cotton rat and the rice rat. The disease is spread when mouse droppings and urine become disturbed and are then inhaled, such as when an HVAC system kicks on. blows air across the contaminated feces and into the rooms of your home. Symptoms of HPS include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Pain
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Gastrointestinal Distress

Preventative maintenance to your HVAC system can help with early detection of infestation. A pest service can then be called to remediate the problem, after which your HVAC technician can professionally clean or replace affected ductwork.

Keep yourself and your family healthy and happy. If it’s been too long since your HVAC system in San Antonio or the surrounding areas has been inspected by a professional, call North East Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing today.

Photo by Brandon Nickerson


Call: 210-658-0111