With autumn on the way, allergy season is starting to gear up once more as weeds and other plants start to release their pollen. A big fall allergen in the mid Atlantic region is ragweed – it is hardy and can grow almost anywhere and the pollen it produces can travel through the air on a breeze for many miles. Most seasonal allergies are categorized under “hay fever” or “allergic rhinitis”. There are also regular year-round irritants, such as mold and dust mites. Your HVAC system’s job is to circulate air throughout your home, and if it isn’t properly maintained it could be contributing to poor air quality. People who suffer from allergies or other respiratory issues can live more comfortably with a clean and efficient HVAC system. Here are some things to consider when improving air quality in preparation for autumn allergies:
- Indoor Air Quality – what is the air in your home like when it is not allergy season? The EPA reports that indoor air can be between 2 and 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. This is due to the recycled air used indoors. Whatever pollutants are released within your home – paint fumes, a virus from a sneeze, insect droppings, cigarette or wood smoke, pet dander, hair spray, etc. – are then recycled because the air stays within the home. Outdoor air pollutants can become more diluted because the volume of outdoor air is greater, and because of the cleansing effects of the water cycle. To improve your indoor air quality, you can eliminate some of the pollutants by regularly cleaning indoors, opening windows when the weather allows, and by installing an air purifying system. These can be stand-alone systems or they can be incorporated within your existing HVAC.
- Humidifier – mildew and mold can be seasonal or situational allergens. They are able to grow at an optimal temperature and humidity. These often occur in the spring and fall. Having a humidifier can ensure that things don’t become too damp. Humidifiers can also improve the health of your skin and hair.
- Filters – Aside from having an air purifier, another great way to battle seasonal allergies is to regularly change the filter on your HVAC system. A filter’s job is to remove floating particles from the air that circulates through your home. Things like dust mites, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, or other irritants become trapped in the filter and are no longer floating through the air that you breathe. However, if the filter isn’t changed out regularly, it becomes clogged and can no longer efficiently clean the air flowing through it. A clogged filter puts strain on your HVAC system by making it work harder to push air through the clog. This can cause damage or shorten the lifespan of your HVAC. A clogged filter also means that your air is not being properly filtered – irritants and allergens are slipping through and your loved ones are breathing them in. Generally you should change your filter every 3 months but the packaging on the filter will tell you the recommended timeline. You can sign up for an automatic delivery subscription for many types of filters, and this means you don’t have to keep track. When the filter arrives on your doorstep, you know it’s time to change. There are many types of filters, and most are rated on the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) Scale. Knowing what type of allergen or irritant you want to remove will help you select what MERV rating you are looking for. For example, a MERV 6 filter removes dust, lint, and pollen. A MERV 13 removes dust, lint, pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, smoke, smog, cough and sneeze germs, airborne viruses, and bacteria. Although a higher rated filter might cost more, the protection it brings might be worth the price tag.
To schedule some TLC with a trained professional, or to discuss what type of air purifier or filter would work best in your home, contact 360 AirTech today.