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Asthma-suffering Calgary family feels impact of having furnace cleaned

Calgary family finds relief after furnace and ducts cleaned
WATCH: A home renovation a few years ago wreaked havoc on a Calgary family — especially one member who has asthma. As Deb Matejicka reports, relief was found after they had their ducts and furnace professionally cleaned.

A Calgary family has discovered that taking care of their furnace can have a direct impact on their health.

“I used to wake up and not be able to go to bed because my throat is so itchy, or it’s so dry and everything so just getting the furnace cleaned has really helped my sleep and helped me,” 14-year-old Emersyn Atkinson said.

An asthma sufferer, Atkinson started experiencing increased symptoms commonly triggered by allergens like dust and pet dander during a home renovation a few years ago.

“I cough and everything is really, really dry and it’s not really the best and I wake up all the time at night because, like, it’s hard to breathe,” she said.

“We’re vacuuming constantly and what you don’t realize is that’s also going into your furnace system and your ducts, and it just seems to re-circulate through the house,” added dad, Rob Atkinson.

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READ MORE: September spike in asthma cases prompts Alberta Health Services to issue reminder to parents

Despite the family’s best efforts to manage the dust and debris from the reno, Emersyn and other family members continued to suffer until they had a professional service clean their furnace and ducts.

“What we found was with the impact it was having around the family and sleep patterns, that with the furnace cleanings, it definitely makes a difference after the fact,” said Rob, who says the family now has their ducts and furnace cleaned every year.

There is no research to prove having your ducts cleaned regularly can improve your health but a spokesperson from Asthma Canada said if you find it works for you then you should do it.

“We spend 90% of our time indoors so managing indoor air quality is really, really important, particularly for people with asthma,” Asthma Canada CEO Vanessa Foran said.

Foran says adding high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to your furnace and vacuum as well as using an air purifier can also help maintain a healthy home.

“This all helps reduce allergens and triggers that can possibly cause an asthma attack,” said Foran.

READ MORE: Cold weather potentially dangerous for people with asthma

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Industry experts advise having your furnace and ducts professionally cleaned every year.

“It’s really important because it increases your airflow, which improves your heating and cooling, which leads to less breakdowns and repairs,” said Riz Bhanji, owner of Breathe Clean Alberta.

“When you get that breakdown due to not cleaning, that bill is huge and that’s probably four times you could have cleaned your furnace and vents and avoided those breakdowns,” he said.

For the Atkinson family, it just makes sense.

“Their agitation and sensitivity to this stuff, having the furnace cleaned is now a must,” said Rob.