How to Reduce Dust with Forced Air Heat?

Dust inside your house can become extremely annoying. Will forced air heat help you deal with the problem?

To reduce dust, you should upgrade your unit, sort out the cleaning schedule, change the filters regularly, fix leaky ducts, control humidity levels, and get the ducts cleaned. There are plenty of indoor air quality products available on the market, so consider getting one for your forced air heating system.  

Why are all these measures important and what exactly is making your house dusty in the first place?

Here is everything you need to know.

Does Forced Hot Air Cause Dust?

Forced air heating is a system that uses (you guessed it) air to transfer heat. Such units have ducts and vents and are usually controlled by a thermostat.

Forced hot air does not cause dust. It is a common misconception that the units produce dust.

In fact, the systems simply circulate the dust that is already present in your house. This is exactly why it might seem like your home has become dustier, once you’ve installed an HVAC system.

Why Does the House Get So Dusty – 7 Possible Reasons

1.    You live in an old house

First of all, old houses rarely have properly installed ductwork. The chances are high that the quality of ventilation at your place is not great.

Secondly, various building materials can make your house dustier. For example, old paint, plaster, and drywall.

The old carpeting is another thing that is going to slowly degrade which, in its turn, leads to the release of tiny particles that most of us call ‘dust’.

2.    Your house is brand-new

Unfortunately, moving to a new house might not be the ultimate solution to your messy problem because brand-new buildings can be just as dusty.

You have to make sure to book a ductwork cleaning as soon as the construction of the new house is over. Otherwise, the system will be circulating plenty of nasty particles that were created during the building process.

Unfortunately, new houses might have poorly installed ductwork as well. Especially, when it comes to large construction projects.

The builders will be paid the smallest bid and the time limits are usually very tight. All these factors result in leaky ducts that contribute to dust circulation.

3.    Your furnace is old

Ideally, you would want to replace your furnace every 15-20 years.

If the dust problem had appeared not that long ago, then it might be a signal that the furnace is reaching the end of its lifespan.

However, going for a newer model is definitely worth it as such units have advanced air filter technologies.

The best units are an investment. But these models are also far more energy-efficient than the older systems, so you will be able to save on your energy bills throughout the years.

4.    You have an unfinished basement

If your basement has unsealed or unpainted walls, ceilings, and floors, then it can become a problem. 

This area of your house is going to end up generating a lot of dust that will inevitably find its way into the HVAC system.

5.    You don’t have an HVAC system

Modern units will help you not only heat or cool your house but also increase the quality of the air you breathe. It will be extremely challenging to make the air better if you don’t have such a system.

Moreover, homeowners that don’t have an air conditioner tend to open their windows during the hotter time of the year much more often. As a result, pollen and more dust and debris are able to enter the house.

Read: HVAC System Service – How It’s Done And How Much Does It Cost?

6.    You don’t regularly replace the furnace filters

How often you should replace the filters would depend on their thickness, whether or not you have pets, and a few other factors.

However, the majority of HVAC experts recommend replacing or cleaning the filters every 3 months.

Even though an ordinary filter can’t tremendously increase the quality of the air you breathe in, it still does a great job at filtering out plenty of dust particles.

Of course, a clogged filter won’t be able to work as efficiently.

Read: Why Does My Furnace Filter Get Dirty So Quickly?

7.    Your HVAC unit doesn’t have an air filtration system

HVAC systems come with basic filters, but did you know that there are far more advanced air filtration systems?

These things have quite a few benefits. Creating advanced traps for dust is just one of them.

How to Reduce Dust with Forced Air Heat?

Clean Your House Regularly

In a nutshell, if there is no dust in your house, the HVAC system will have no particles to circulate.

Of course, it is impossible to get rid of all the dust, pet hairs, and mold spores. But sticking to a cleaning schedule would definitely help.

Here are a few tips that will make your cleaning session even more effective:

  • Wash your drapes every 3-6 months.
  • Dust before vacuuming. In such a case, you will be able to collect all the dust that had loosened from the surfaces.
  • Don’t forget to vacuum underneath and behind the furniture.
  • To go the extra mile, vacuum the vents and the air returns.

Use the HVAC Fan After Cleaning

To make sure that the dust that you have launched into the air during cleaning doesn’t settle back on the surface, use the HVAC fan.

Simply switch your thermostat to ‘on’. You wouldn’t have to heat or cool in this mode, so switching the fan on is an energy-efficient way to let the forced air heating system’s filter work its magic.

Have Your Ducts Cleaned

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, duct cleaning is not always a necessity and it is absolutely normal for the duct surfaces to have dust adhered to them. 

However, if the ducts are clogged, infested, or have mold growing in them, you should get them cleaned by a professional.

Usually, homeowners get their ducts cleaned every 5 years. But if there is a family member who suffers from allergies or asthma, for example, the inside of the system is going to require a glow-up more often.

To a certain extent, you might be able to take care of this job on your own.

Read: Mold In Air Ducts Symptoms

Use a HEPA Filter

If your system doesn’t have a HEPA filter, you should definitely get one.

A High-Efficiency Particulate filter can, in theory, remove 99.97% of dust, bacteria, mold, and any other airborne particles of a certain size (0.3 microns)

When choosing a filter, also do pay attention to the MERV rating.

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value shows the ability of the filter to catch particles in the size range between 0.3 and 10 microns. 

Basically, you can find out the MERV rating of the filter that you have installed and switch it to a new one with a higher number.

Warning! Filters with the highest MERVs are extremely fine and might restrict the unit’s airflow. So, before getting a new one, consult your HVAC technician. 

Control the Humidity Levels

High humidity levels contribute to mold and mildew growth. If your home has such a problem, the forced air heating system is going to circulate mold particles around the house.

At the same time, low humidity levels make the rooms appear dustier because particles can easily flow through dry air

Controlling the humidity in your house is important for a wide range of reasons and one of them is dust control.

Consider installing a whole-house humidifier and/or dehumidifier to keep the level of moisture in the air between 30 and 50%.

Fix Leaky Ducts

Unfortunately, leaks are a very common problem when it comes to ducted heating and cooling systems. 

These gaps and holes make the whole unit less effective and add a significant amount to your energy bills. A less obvious issue is more dust in the ductwork.

The gaps usually develop in extremely dusty areas that are not well-maintained. For example, basements, attics, and crawl spaces.

Dust and other particles can then freely get in the ducts through the gaps past the filter. As a result, you’ll have plenty of dust from the attic circulating around the house.

Tip: turn off the lights and use a flashlight to find out where the flow of dust particles is entering the ductwork. 

Invest In Indoor Air Quality Products

There are plenty of devices for you to choose from.

  • Air cleaners don’t just trap standard dust. They can also help get rid of smoke and airborne pathogens.
  • UV lamps help make sure that mold doesn’t start growing inside the actual system.
  • Whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers will maintain the right humidity levels all year round.

Keep an eye on the HVAC industry to be aware of the most up-to-date technologies. 

Read: HVAC UV Light: Everything You Need To Know

To Sum Up

Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to reduce dust with forced air heating systems.

You can make a huge change, even if you are not ready to invest in a new unit or air quality products at the moment.

Simply clean the house regularly (and smarter) and don’t forget to check the ducts for any leaks.