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Dirty Air Ducts and Respiratory Issues: Exploring Their Link

Updated on November 26th 2023
Short-haired man sneezing into elbow in white sunlit room

100 years ago, people slept under piles of homemade quilts in heavy pajamas during the winter months and sweltered during the summer months. Homes these days maintain a more or less stable environment year-round thanks to the HVAC system. But everything, even modern environmental control systems, have their downside. And with the contemporary HVAC system, the weak link is the ductwork. Without regular air duct cleaning dirt, dust and other pollutants that accumulate in the ductwork are circulated endlessly throughout the home causing everything from minor irritation to serious respiratory infections.

In this post, we're going to take a close look at the link between dirty air ducts and respiratory conditions in the typical Arvada home.

A Preventable Problem

As we will see, dirty air ducts have the potential to cause a myriad of respiratory issues and other health problems. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Homeowners who engage in regular HVAC cleaning breathe clean and pristine year-round and don't have to worry about respiratory issues caused by dirty ducts.

At this point, you might be wondering "what's in my air ducts that could possibly present a health threat?" It's a good question.

Here is a partial list of some of the nasty things that can collect in air ducts over time:

  • Dust and dirt: In the part of Colorado we get pummeled by wind-blown dust from the plains to the east and all kinds of detritus blowing down off the mountains to the west.
  • Pollen: During the spring in particular pollen levels in this part of the country go through the roof. A lot of it will find its way into your air ducts.
  • Mold spores: Mold spores are unpleasant little things that are carried on the wind and can aggravate a person’s allergies and trigger severe asthma attacks.
  • Hair and dander from unwanted guests: Like people mice, raccoons, birds and other animals are always looking for a safe warm home. Sometimes that means your air vents.
  • Industrial pollutants: All kinds of contaminants are expelled from factories and come to rest in air ducts. While most are not toxic they can irritate the lungs and eyes.
  • Pet dander: No matter how much you love your pets you have to be aware that they are constantly shedding hair and dander. A lot of it winds up in the air ducts.

As we said, that is just a partial list of the things that can wind up in the air ducts of the typical home. Without regular air vent cleaning much of it will be recirculated throughout the house where it can cause all manner of health issues, including:


Did you know that millions of Americans suffer from allergy symptoms caused by indoor allergens? It’s true. And if you have dirty air ducts you, and anyone else in the home, is a prime candidate to develop allergic symptoms. Take another look at that list of pollutants potentially lurking in your air ducts then ask yourself if you want to be breathing in that contaminant stew while you sleep. If that prospect doesn’t appeal to you, call Steve’s and arrange to have your air ducts cleaned.


If you’ve ever seen anyone have an asthma attack you know how serious it can be. The last thing anyone wants is for dirty ductwork to either cause or aggravate someone’s asthma. Pollen, pet dander, mold spores and more can all trigger asthma attacks. But if you keep the air ducts in your home clean and hygienic you greatly reduce the odds of that happening.

Respiratory Infections

If you or someone in your family is experiencing a persistent cough or congestion, shortness of breath or an inexplicable sore throat it may be the warning signs of a developing respiratory infection. If your air ducts have not been cleaned, perhaps ever, they may well be the cause of all this respiratory distress. Some people are naturally more sensitive to airborne contaminants so while you may be fine, a loved one may develop a respiratory infection from breathing contaminated air. Don’t let that happen. Call a professional vent cleaner.

Brain Fog

It’s been known for some time that airborne contaminants including dirt and dust can contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other sorts of cognitive impairment. The exact mechanism by which this occurs is not yet fully understood but there is a mountain of evidence that strongly suggests an air pollution/cognitive impairment link. You can’t do much about that when you go outside, except perhaps to wear a dust mask. But if you keep the air ducts in your home clean you’ll be doing yourself and your loved ones a potentially big long-term favor.

Skin Irritation

Mold spores, industrial contaminants and other pollutants are known to aggravate skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Airborne pollutants can also dry out the skin and cause rashes, outbreaks of hives, itching and other problems. If someone in your house is complaining about rashes or that their skin seems extra dry and itchy, the problem may not be the current weather. It may be dirty air ducts.


When people experience unexplained wheezing, sneezing, respiratory distress and itchy skin or they are confused and not as mentally sharp as they normally are, this can create enormous stress. Stress is known to both cause and aggravate a multitude of health problems. The good news is that you may be able to alleviate stress that’s a byproduct of dirty ducts by contacting Steve’s and arranging for air duct cleaning services.

How Often Should Air Ducts Be Cleaned?

It is recommended to have your ducts cleaned every 1-3 years. If there is someone in the house with asthma or allergies, this is especially important. If you have recently engaged in remodeling or renovation work you should have the ducts cleaned as soon as the contractors clean up and leave at the end of the job.

Professional Air Vent Cleaning in Arvada by Steve’s

At Steve's, we have been helping the people of Colorado keep their homes and businesses clean and hygienic for more than 40 years. Of all the many services we offer we consider HVAC cleaning to be among the most important because of the potential impact it can have on our customers’ quality of life.

If it has been more than a year since you’ve had your air ducts cleaned get in touch with the pros at Steve’s Air Duct Cleaning today by calling (720) 419-7792. Or if you prefer you can write to us at:

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Your air ducts are the lungs of your home and keeping them clean keeps you and your family healthier and your HVAC equipment working optimally.