Most homeowners don’t realize their homes wear a dust disguise beyond what they see. Everyone knows homes need dusting, but if the average person was asked how much dust they thought accumulated in their home on an annual basis, they would most likely fall short on their estimation. Shockingly, the average home collects 40 pounds of dust annually.

Dust is made up of all kinds of particles including plant pollen, dead skin cells, and fibers from clothing and paper. When it accumulates, it’s annoying and can wreak havoc on asthma and allergy sufferers. To make matters worse, with dust come dust mites.

The four main reasons dust accumulates is the duct work is dirty, the HVAC system needs to be tuned up, air filters need cleaning, the house vacuum cleaner is not up to the task at hand.

To keep duct work dust free a good cleaning should be performed every three to four years. This is especially the case when pets are in the home.

Anyone who purchases a home that has been built longer than three years should consider getting a fresh start by having the ducts cleaned out before moving in.

An HVAC system should be tuned up twice a year. Schedule the air conditioner maintenance in spring and the heater maintenance in fall. A system that receives regular maintenance will enjoy a longer lifespan, need fewer repairs, and get better energy efficiency.

The filter in the HVAC system should be changed at least quarterly.

If a noticeable buildup of dust is accumulating in the home, try increasing filter changes to once a month to resolve dust issues.

Many vacuum cleaners do a poor job of actually pulling dust out of the carpet. Vacuums that don’t have a HEPA filter, are likely stirring up more dust than they are capturing. If carpeting is preferred, consider investing in a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which prevents dust from being re-introduced into the air.

Otherwise, stick to hardwood, vinyl, linoleum or tile flooring.

While some homes will enjoy fresh healthy air with a standard HVAC filter, others need a little more help tackling the pollutants in their area.

A whole-home air purifier will stop more particles than what the average air filter can handle.

It will also capture a higher percentage of the pollutants passing through.

Other tips include changing the bedding once a week, keep closets tidy, and remove clutter from floors.

— Marla Ballard’s Master of Disguise appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday editions.

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