Millions of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies every year. Many people rely on allergy medicine to control the symptoms, believing that it’s otherwise out of their control. But there are some simple things you can do around your home to alleviate the effects of seasonal allergies. As spring settles in, it’s time to clean and upgrade your home’s defenses. While there’s no miracle product to eliminate all allergens in the air, there are several things you can do to keep indoor air clean this season, and for years to come.
A great place to start is with your HVAC system. The HVAC system, which stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, is responsible for circulating air throughout your home. Depending on what it’s set to, it may be heating or cooling, or it could be simply moving the air through filters.
How Does HVAC Help?
You might be asking how your HVAC system can have much to do with allergy season. How can it help alleviate or worsen your symptoms while you’re home and indoors? Without a proper HVAC system, anything that comes into your home’s air is trapped there. And you could be breathing in any particles or allergens that may be floating around in it.
Poor indoor air quality leads to increased allergy symptoms, such as runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, and sneezing. This can also lead to disrupted sleep and fatigue. If these symptoms sound familiar, it’s a good time to look at the air quality of your home.
The same way that your dishwasher, refrigerator, and range have to be updated now and again to give you the best efficiency and cost-to-use ratio, so should you upgrade or replace your HVAC systems. Professionally installed high-efficiency, low restriction air filtration systems are available to better protect the air you breathe and your equipment. An upgrade to a newer system can ensure that you’re up to code, and are getting the best air quality for your family.
It’s In the Filters
In the springtime, pollen is public enemy number one. On warm, dry days, you may even hear your morning news anchors warn you about high pollen counts. While most of us don’t think much about the pollen content of the air, until there’s a yellow coating on our cars and patio furniture, the fact remains that it’s there in every breath you take.
Air filters are designed to trap allergens like pollen, pet dander, smoke particles, and more. Some air filters are so good at their job, they can actually do some harm to your system. If the wrong filter grade is being used with an outdated system it can cost more to run, need replacing more often, and even cease to work as well as it should. Knowing the correct filters to use with your system can ensure efficiency and keep down costs.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters will catch even the tiniest of particles. They’re great for high-traffic places, but just because they can catch the smallest particles doesn’t mean they are right for your situation. HEPA filters can be so efficient at trapping particles that they could potentially cause your system to use more energy if your HVAC equipment isn’t up to par.
Medium efficiency filters are usually sufficient for most homes, as they will still capture small and tiny particles. The normal air pollution in your home is mostly dust, dander, and a bit of pollen from opening and closing outside doors. So using a medium efficiency filter in the correctly rated system can have a huge impact on cutting down allergy symptoms.
“Better” isn’t always better if it’s not the right fit. If you’re unsure which filter to select, call one of our HVAC technicians for a professional opinion.
Maximize HVAC Maintenance
Even if your home is free of pets or just one or two people live there, you should consider regular maintenance checks on your equipment for maximum results. As professionals, we often see a build-up of mildew and mold on older systems as we replace them. These harmful fungi can hide in your HVAC system undetected for a long time. They thrive in cool, damp places, and a leak in your unit or condensation buildup somewhere in your home could be creating harmful toxins in your equipment.
Without you being able to notice it, mold spores have the potential to travel throughout your home through your vents, turning your HVAC system from a tool into a weapon. And that may be a major reason why your allergies act up when your furnace or A/C is running. Throughout the year, it’s important to check for mold regularly and to take steps to prevent it from creeping in.
Replacing or upgrading a working system isn’t always an option, and regular checks and maintenance can both extend the lifetime of your system and help it work to the best of its ability.
Besides regular maintenance and cleaning, you can also take advantage of additional equipment to support your HVAC system. Consider, for instance, a high-intensity UV air purifier. Installing one at your cooling coil can prevent bacteria, molds, and viruses from spreading through your HVAC system and into the air you breathe. By keeping toxins from getting into your system you are addressing your allergies at a major source, and using preventative maintenance to assist in the future.
Control the Humidity
Another essential metric in the health of your air quality is the humidity in your home. Depending on where you live, you might try a dehumidifier. While smaller, single-unit dehumidifiers do exist, they can only service a small area at a time and can be a hassle to continually empty. The best option is a professionally installed whole-house dehumidifier that runs in conjunction with your HVAC system. It runs quietly in the background of your home, but it makes a big impact on reducing dust mites and mold spores.
Other support items to consider investing in would be an air purifier. Air purifiers work alongside your HVACs air filter to trap tiny particles in the air, thus cleaning your air that much more. While it may seem like overkill, your air can’t be too clean, and having separate air purifiers helps to alleviate some of the stress on your HVACs air filters, allowing for longevity and efficiency. At Allied, we use the highest quality air purifiers from brands like Respicaire and Aprilaire.
Lastly, consider including germicidal UV lights as part of your home’s allergy-fighting arsenal. These specialized lights will unobtrusively clean the air in support of your HVAC system, boosting the overall effectiveness. Such lights are used often in hospitals to help prevent the spread of contaminated air through the facility.
You don’t have to suffer from allergies this spring! Do yourself and your family a favor and call Allied Air Conditioning and Heating to schedule your HVAC spring cleaning or to upgrade your equipment.