We have a Lennox Whisperheat gas furnace at home. We had the furnace filter & ducts cleaned for $500 by one of the best reputed furnace cleaners in the Seattle area back in April. Last week, we discovered that the plastic mesh filter in our furnace had been damaged when it had been put back in. We‚Äôd been running our furnace for the past 7 months with a 2‚Äù hole in the middle of the filter.
Our 4 year old daughter developed chronic allergy symptoms with severe nasal congestion, wheezing and snoring soon after the cleaning, and wouldn‚Äôt respond to the various medications & diet changes we tried. We even changed her bed and got a humidifier, with no improvement in her symptoms. We finally tried shutting of the furnace at night and leaving our bedroom window partially open, to which she responded immediately ‚Äì her allergy symptoms reduced dramatically, though she is still not back to her pre-April level of normality. This is what clued us to the fact that the problem might be with the furnace, leading to our discovery of the damaged filter.
I called the duct cleaners yesterday and described the situation to them. Initially, they tried blaming the problem on us, saying it was because we hadn‚Äôt cleaned the filter in 7 months. The fact is, we typically clean our filter every 6 months or so, and have never had a problem before. Moreover, we think they should accept responsibility for the damaged filter. We think their serviceman damaged it by using a pressure hose to clean it, and there is no way he could not have noticed the damage prior to putting the filter back in the furnace - the 2‚Äù hole is very obvious. We think it was completely unprofessional of him to have put back back in place ‚Äì and not told us! Finally, the company agreed to come and ‚Äútake a look on Monday‚Äù and to measure the air quality in our house with a laser measuring device to ‚Äúsee if the hole in the filter has affected the air quality adversely‚Äù. My concern is that they could take their readings in such a way that they get the outcome they desire, and will leave us to figure to fix the problem.
Anyway, I‚Äôm trying to understand the consequences of running our furnace for 7 months with a 2‚Äù hole in the filter. Should we be worried about dust, mold or allergen build up in the furnace fan and heating ducts? If so, how do we remedy the problem? We put in a new disposable filter last week, but when we run the furnace at night, our daughter‚Äôs symptoms get worse immediately. This leads us to think there is dust / allergen build up in the system now, which is why replacing the filter has no effect.
Would appreciate your thoughts / comments / advise on (a) how to rid our heating system of any pollutants that might have built up due to the hole in the filter, and (b) on what responsibility the duct cleaners should take for the situation, and how best we can get them to accept their responsibility. We‚Äôre worried that our daughter‚Äôs health may have suffered permanently, due to what appears to be extreme negligence on the part of the duct cleaning company.
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