Can air conditioning help your allergies? Read these secrets for AC allergy relief…
Spring ushers in warmer temperatures, trees and plants springing back to life, and – of course – allergies. An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, which can make spring a season of sneezing, itchy eyes and congestion. Some of the most common contaminants found in indoor air include:
- Fibers from synthetic carpets and furniture fabrics
- Pet dander and dust mites
- Radon gas
- Formaldehyde and other chemicals used in building materials
- Volatile compounds found in insecticides, pesticides, cleaning, and personal care products
- Irritants from smoking and wood-burning fireplaces
- Gasses from cooking appliances and water heaters
In some instances, central air conditioning can actually worsen allergy symptoms. For example, cool air is transported through the air ducts located in your walls and attic. This can lead to condensation and mold, which is a major irritant for most allergy sufferers.
There’s good news though! A few simple HVAC maintenance tips may be the key to reducing seasonal allergy symptoms.
Don’t Skimp on Your Filter
A good air filter is your main defense against poor indoor air quality. All air filters are assigned a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, also known as a MERV rating. This rating indicates the filter’s ability to remove various size particles from the air.
We recommend that allergy sufferers look for a filter with a MERV rating of at least 8. These filters will collect microscopic particles as small as three microns, which will go a long way toward reducing indoor allergens. It is also important to check filters monthly and to replace them every three months or sooner if they appear dirty.
Electrostatic filters are also good choices for allergy sufferers. Electrostatic filters attract airborne contaminants using an electric charge. The filters can be cleaned using regular tap water and reused.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters, also known as HEPA filters, are another option. These filters are made of thin glass fibers and can effectively remove up to 99.97 percent of contaminants and allergens.
Learn more about the different types of air filters.
Clear Away Dust and Debris:
The outdoor portion of your AC unit pulls in fresh air that will eventually be carried throughout your home. Any dust or debris around your outside unit can be pulled in through your HVAC system and introduced into your home. You should clean around the unit regularly to keep the area clear. The same goes for the indoor portion of your HVAC system. It is important to dust or sweep around the indoor unit to reduce the number of allergens being pulled into the system.
Be on the Lookout for Mold
Mold loves a moist, humid environment and can aggravate symptoms of allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. In extreme cases, it can lead to serious illness or even death.
Keeping your home’s humidity level between 30 and 50 percent not only makes your house feel more comfortable, but it also inhibits the growth of mold and dust mites. The most convenient way to do this is with a whole-house humidifier that operates using your existing ductwork to keep your home at a constant humidity level.
Even with these precautions, you should still inspect the damp or humid portions of your HVAC system every couple of weeks for signs of mold. These areas include the drip pan and drain, air handler, evaporator coils, and ducts.
While you may be able to handle small mold spots on your own, you should leave significant problems to a professional mold remediation service.
Dust Registers and Vents First
Even people who are conscientious about dusting once a week tend to forget to dust their air return vents and registers. If these areas are dusty, your entire house will be dusty since the air circulated by your HVAC system passes through these vents and registers. The vents and registers should be the first things you dust in each room. It is best to use a damp cloth to keep from kicking up the particles and worsening your allergy symptoms.
Find out when to have your ducts cleaned.
Schedule an Annual Maintenance Appointment
Spring is the perfect time to have an HVAC professional give your system a once-over to ensure it is in tip-top shape. The professional HVAC technicians of Richmond’s Air can keep your system running properly and give you tips on improving the air quality in your home.
We offer expert AC installation and repair services in addition to maintenance services, which can improve the health and efficiency of your HVAC system. Call us today to schedule your appointment.