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CHECK YOUR AIR DUCTS!

I had been going through a bad asthma period for the last year or so and taking medication (Advair … Salmeterol).  The first 3 months of 2019 were particularly bad and were affecting me emotionally.

I live in an old house (1941).  I was recently reading up about air ducts and the need to have them cleaned every few years.   (My ducts had never been cleaned since I bought the house in 1994!)

Four weeks ago, I got my air ducts cleaned and they found some patches of mold around the downstairs air handler.  They pulled a lot of dirt out of the ducts and vents and they remediated the mold.  (I'm in North Texas and the cleaning techs said that most older homes here have some mold, especially if you live anywhere near a lake.  The techs also said that most homes have never been duct-cleaned!)

Immediately, I noticed far less dust around the house and the vents appeared to be blowing stronger.  However, the most significant result is that for the last five days, I have had very minor asthma symptoms … even drastically reducing my medication. 

Will this continue?  I do not know, but I sure hope so!

So … get your air ducts checked!

p.s. As an added level of protection, I just bought a UV+ozone bulb for $19 off Amazon.  [UV light and ozone neutralizes mold, pollen and other microbes, btw.  You just can't be around the bulb while it is lit].  I have been sanitizing each room of my house, in turn.  I merely run the lamp for about 30 minutes with each door closed, then I air out the room to dissipate the ozone smell.  (I will continue to zap the downstairs air handler closet every few weeks … just to make sure!)

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  • K8sMom2002

    Mark, I hope that you've turned a corner and that you will have a better rest of the year asthma-wise. It sounds like you've had a very frustrating year!

    What sort of filtration do you have in your air system?

    Could you talk to your doctor about whether the UV+ozone bulb is a good option for you? Ozone can irritate lungs and trigger asthma. says this:

    Ozone triggers asthma because it is very irritating to the lungs and airways. It is well known that ozone concentration is directly related to asthma attacks. It has also caused the need for more doses of asthma drugs and emergency treatment for asthma. Ozone can reduce lung function. Ozone can make it more difficult for you to breathe deeply.

  • Mark16093

    I use regular filters on my a/c units, but I change them frequently.  (The problem with those expensive high-filtration air filters is that they make your a/c units work much harder, which shortens their life).

    The main thrust of my post was simply to check and clean your a/c-heating ducts.  The UV/ozone treatment was simply an additional one-time measure on each room to neutralize any mold and other allergen spores that may have been lurking on draperies, furniture, etc. in my home.  (These spores get circulated when the a/c or heat is running).  UV light can only neutralize anything in its direct light path, but ozone can penetrate deep into furnishings, etc. … essentially like fumigation.

    I am aware of the dangers of ozone, particularly to asthma sufferers.  I did research the subject very carefully before buying the bulb.  However, this was not a problem and it caused me no ill effects. After sanitizing each room, I fully aired things out by having windows and doors open.  (It should also be mentioned that ozone eventually reverts to oxygen). 

    I will be zapping my air handler closet with UV light and ozone every few weeks, just to keep any mold from possibly reforming.  (I live near a lake and the cleaning techs said that this combined with Texas heat increases the likelihood of mold in homes.

  • Shea

    Mark, that is awesome that you discovered a huge culprit in your home and remediated it and have a maintenance plan to keep that mold out! How awesome that your symptoms are already improving!

    I am in Florida– my old rental I think had some hidden mold in it. When I moved out into a new manufactured home, I was finally able to not need to nebulize 3x daily every day, and inhalers worked better to keep my symptoms under control. I think keeping good indoor home air free of asthma/allergic  triggers is one of the best things a person can do for themselves.

  • Mark16093

    I am glad to hear that your issues have also improved, Shea.

    Very true!   Most indoor air is much worse than the outside.  I am fortunate to have all hardwood floors (with area rugs), which makes cleaning and dust control easier.

    Living in Florida, you might also benefit from a dehumidifier, which is our main defense against mold.  I bought a Frigidaire unit about 18 months ago and some days, that thing is really working to get the humidity down to my preferred 45%.  (I recycle the water that it creates, in my washing machine).

    One other benefit is that by not needing your meds as often, they are more effective when you do use them.

  • Shea

    Thanks for the tip Mark, I will look into humidity. Right now I run my air a lot inside (keep it at 75 and even though my place is energy efficient, its Florida, so its running alot), and have a HEPA air purifier in my room running, so my home seems to be at a good humidity level to me, but outside it definitely triggers my asthma, and its getting worse out there, so I might get a humidity gauge. I have all hard flooring too (with area rugs)– since I got the place new, I was able to say no carpeting (thank goodness). Mold and dust are triggers, and I dont entertain those who have animals in my home, but dander can cling on to things and get entrapped in carpets, so I am glad not to have carpets, because animal dander is by far my worst trigger. 

  • Mark16093

    A humidity gauge would be a great help, Shea and a reading somewhere between 20% and 50% is the ideal … not only to make breathing easier, but also to discourage mold, fungus and dust mites. 

    I keep my dehumidifier set at 45% and some days it rarely comes on, but on others, it's running for several hours.   (Just to mention that too dry air is also not good for asthmatics, as it can cause a cough).

    If your gauge keeps showing a high indoor reading as we get into summer, you might then consider some kind of dehumidification, which would run you under $200.

    Unfortunately, I am also allergic … to  cats, dogs and horses.