Spring is a wonderful season, but it is also a notorious time for seasonal allergies. As plants blossom, they too release millions of pollen. When they come into contact with a person who is sensitive to these allergens, their body’s immune system goes haywire. It can lead to various symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, and rashes, which can make springtime feel like a drag.
Pollens and other allergens travel several miles through the air. Even if there aren’t any trees near your community, they can still find their way into your neighbourhood and your house. Protect your home from the invasion of allergens by maximizing the use of your HVAC system.
Here’s what you need to know:
Your HVAC System May Be Making Your Allergies Worse
Indoor air pollution is a concern that needs to be taken seriously. The most common allergens are pollen, pet dander, moulds, dust mites, and insect droppings. Your HVAC system needs to be designed to effectively remove these allergens. However, if your system is not optimized to handle such problems, it may only worsen the situation.
Your HVAC filter may be overloaded
HVAC filters are meant to trap debris and dust particles. However, if you don’t clean or replace them regularly, allergens such as dander, pollen, and dust mites can accumulate. Once overloaded with debris, your filter will start working inefficiently and, eventually, damage the entire system.
Your HVAC system may have accumulated moulds and mildew
Moulds, mildew, and other microorganisms like bacteria, thrive in warm, dark, and damp places, and your HVAC system may be providing them with a nesting ground. An improperly maintained HVAC system collects condensation and humidity in certain areas, attracting these allergens. The moment you turn on your contaminated air conditioner or heating, you may be unconsciously blowing the moulds, mildew, and spores into your room as well.
Your indoor air is stagnant
Your HVAC system needs to facilitate air exchange. Proper ventilation is the easiest way to ensure that indoor pollutants are kept at a minimum. Either open your doors and windows at certain times of the day or turn on your air conditioner or ventilator to allow outside air to replace indoor air, filtering and cleaning impurities in the process.
7 Ways to Reduce Allergies with Your HVAC System
If you’re striving for a healthier home environment free of allergens and pollutants, your HVAC system is your best ally to reducing health risks. As you seek protection indoors from springtime allergies, take proactive steps to ensure that your HVAC system can sustain the cleanliness and safety of your home.
Here are some steps you can take to optimize your HVAC system and ease asthma and allergies in the spring:
1. Allergy-proof your HVAC systems with HEPA filter
Air purifiers are portable devices that cleanse the air in your home by getting rid of impurities such as odours, smoke, dust, and pet dander. They usually contain a filter or multiple filters, and a fan that draws in and circulates air. They are good at removing fine airborne particles, which is good news for those suffering from allergies or asthma.
With the use of an air purifier, you can pick up where the HVAC system ends. Since some HVAC systems work best only with medium to high-efficiency air filters, adding an air purifier with a HEPA filter can trap those particles that your HVAC system cannot handle alone.
The HEPA filter traps particles smaller than 0.3 microns. It is often used in aerospace, pharmaceuticals, nuclear power, and manufacturing industries. If HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size, it is even more effective in trapping larger allergens like pollen.
A 2018 study found that using a HEPA air purifier in the bedroom has reduced allergen concentration in the indoor air and improved the condition of patients who have allergic rhinitis.
Currently, HEPA filters are gaining popularity for residential use. Its use is recommended for new parents, pet owners, smokers, and asthma sufferers because of its ability to remove particles, fumes, gases, and odours.
2. Change your air filter regularly
Start with your filtration system. Your air filters play a crucial role in reducing indoor allergens, so you need to invest in high-quality products that are capable of catching even the tiniest particles.
Checking your air filters and having them replaced regularly is your first line of defense. As more pollutants and allergens move through your HVAC system in spring, the more frequently you need to clean or replace your air filter. If your air filter is dirty and clogged, change it or wash it immediately. Neglecting this step will only exacerbate health issues and problems.
An air filter’s effectiveness is measured by its minimum efficiency recording value (MERV) rating, which ranges from 1 to 20. The higher the number, the higher the level of filtration. Most high-efficiency filters are rated 14 to 16, while high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are rated between 17 and 20. When purchasing air filters, consult an HVAC expert to assist you with selecting the right fit for your system.
3. Maintain proper relative humidity levels
Another common asthma trigger is humidity. A humid home is an ideal breeding ground for moulds and mildew. High temperatures and extreme humidity create pockets of excessive moisture at home. Too much moisture in the air can help spores develop faster. Too little moisture and it’s easier for airborne particles to travel. A shift in the humidity levels is sometimes enough to trigger asthma symptoms.
Adding a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep the humidity in check helps create an environment that is safe for everyone. Relative humidity of around 40% is ideal.
4. Clean your home regularly
No effort works better to keep you healthy than cleaning your home regularly. Keep all surfaces free of dust, pollen, and pet dander by vacuuming as often as possible. Bathe your pets regularly as well. Keep outdoor items, like shoes, in a storage compartment to prevent them from inadvertently spreading irritants collected outside. As simple as regular home cleaning can help avoid particle build-up within your air filters and ductwork. This not only maintains your system’s efficiency but also prevents allergens and pollutants from circulating throughout your home.
5. Kill allergens with the latest technology
Trapping allergies with high-quality filters and managing humidity levels is a good way to start. Unfortunately, they are not at all fool-proof. They cannot kill bacteria, moulds and other allergy triggers, which could still find their way into your homes. Using the latest technologies in an HVAC system can protect you even further. Ultraviolet lamps are an option you may want to consider. UV lights when installed inside the system can sterilize the system’s coil and the air, killing moulds and bacteria.
6. Improve HVAC systems
Give your indoor air systems a boost. There are cases where the best solution is a completely new HVAC system. This happens when the heating and cooling systems are already inadequate to facilitate proper airflow and filter particles. If this is deemed the case by an HVAC technician, it may be a smart choice to immediately implement changes in your HVAC system to improve your home’s indoor air quality and ease allergy symptoms as soon as possible.
7. Schedule regular HVAC maintenance appointments
One of the best and most cost-effective methods for optimizing your HVAC system for allergy prevention is to seek regular maintenance services. Especially if you can’t afford any upgrades or add-ons, a regular check-up is your best bet to ensuring that your HVAC system is in tip-top shape. A clean and well-maintained system is capable of reducing allergens and particulates from causing your allergies and asthma.
Spring is a beautiful time. Don’t spend this season suffering from asthma and allergies when you can enjoy clean, breathable air. For maintenance and repair services, contact HVAC Link today at (416) 567-3498. We also offer HEPA solutions so you can remain healthy and safe at home.