Although it may seem hard to believe, indoor air quality is typically three to five times more polluted than most of the surrounding outdoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“If your home has forced hot air or ducted air conditioning, these systems are basically the lungs of the home, and when they get dirty, the indoor air quality of the home can be severely affected,” says Bill Benito, ASCS, CVI, VSMR, president of the non-profit National Air Duct Cleaners Association. “Very young children and senior adults are most vulnerable to poor indoor air quality.”

“If your home has forced hot air or ducted air conditioning, these systems are basically the lungs of the home, and when they get dirty, the indoor air quality of the home can be severely affected.”

Asthmatics and allergy sufferers are also at risk.

“Being inside a closed/sealed house or work place can cause the air to become stale, as chemicals and particles accumulate and float around. Since we don’t have filters covering our nose and mouth, this poor indoor air goes right into our lungs each time we take a breath.”

To minimize exposure to dust, dirt and dander, wet wipe hard surfaces on a regular schedule and use HEPA-equipped vacuum cleaners. Keep chemicals and pollutants out of the house, if possible, and replace air filters.

“Much of what goes into the system settles in the ducts and in the coil system,” adds Benito. “Eventually, this contaminates build up, which is why a cleaning is recommended.”

The EPA says HVAC system cleanings typically cost from $450 to $1,000, so bargain “deals” should be voided.