Running & stuffy nose, red itchy and watery eyes, constant sneezing & wheezing, itching and shortness of breath are all signs of an allergic reaction. In adults, these symptoms may be mild, but when it comes to kids and elders, the symptoms may become severe. The presence of allergens in the home is not good for anyone. Today, the primary allergens inside any home are dust, dander, mold, and pollen. The good news is that you can reduce their presence and make your home a safe haven. Controlling the allergens improves the indoor air quality and makes for a healthy living environment.
How Do Allergens Enter The Home
Allergens are usually airborne. It means that they get carried along with the air in whichever direction it is blowing. Typical airborne allergens are dust, dander, and pollen. Mold is yet another allergen whose spores blow freely with air and spread around. It manifests itself when the humidity is high.
Allergens And Your HVAC
If you want a clean and healthy home environment, strive for a good HVAC unit. How can the HVAC unit reduce allergens? By merely trapping the particles and not letting them become a part of the air circulating in your home. So, whoever thought that the HVAC system is only suitable for blowing hot or cold air, you got another think coming.
5 Ways To Reduce Home Allergens
1. Use The Best Quality Filters – Don’t just replace your dirty air filters with any air filter. Instead, use the one with the highest MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It was developed by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioner Engineers). Today, the rating is used as a standard for measuring the efficiency of the air filters. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter. An air filter can have MERV value from anywhere between 1 to 16. When replacing the dirty air filter, try replacing it with one which has a MERV value of at least 8. It will effectively trap more microscopic particles and help in bringing down the level of allergens inside your home. More importantly, don’t wait for the air filters to become completely clogged before replacing them.
2. Maintain Optimum Humidity Levels – Humidity provides a thriving environment to mold to grow and spread its colonies. High humidity worsens the allergy symptoms, and in low humidity, the allergens remain suspended in the air. Therefore, it is essential to maintain healthy humidity levels inside the home. Your HVAC unit effectively removes moisture from the air to keep a check on it. Maintaining around 40% humidity is advisable. Sometimes, on its own, the HVAC unit may not be sufficient to maintain this level. For such times, you can invest in a good humidifier or dehumidifier. These are available online. In case of doubts about which brand or type to buy, consult your HVAC technician.
3. Clean the Ducts & Registers – Yes, you need to clean and dust all the surfaces in your home regularly. You also need to air out your carpets and make cover your mattresses & pillows with allergen-proof covers. But before doing all that, you need to clean the ducts and registers of your HVAC system. If these are not clean, your home will be dusty. You can use a damp rag or a washcloth to make them spick and span. Once you are done cleaning them, you can get on with the rest of your home. All the dust you raise will get sucked and stick to the filters. Make a habit of duct cleaning your home at least once a week. Waiting for the surfaces to appear dirty before cleaning them is not a good idea. It is because more the dust, more is the presence of allergens.
4. Get Rid Of Any Accumulations Around Indoor And Outdoor Units – Very often we clean the home inside out, but forget about cleaning the dust and debris around the indoor and outdoor units. If these accumulations are not cleaned, they hamper the free flow of air and at times, may also become a part of the circulating air. Your HVAC unit works on a simple rule – the more air it pulls in, the more air it pushes out. If there are any obstructions due to dust, dirt, dander, or mold, it will restrict the free flow of air. As a result, the allergens will not get sucked inside and stick to the air filters. They will keep circulating inside the home, making it unhealthy and unhygienic. You can regularly sweep or vacuum the area around the indoor as well as the outdoor unit to keep them clean.
5. Seasonal HVAC Maintenance – Seasonal maintenance is the key to keeping your HVAC unit in perfect working order. An efficient and properly working unit will automatically keep removing the allergens in your home. Maintenance also gives you a chance to get the unit professionally cleaned. While you can do some of the cleaning and dusting of the unit, you still can’t do a thorough job of it. On the other hand, the professionals can do an excellent job of it. They will even inspect the entire ductwork and clean it from inside.
Other Ways To Reduce Home Allergens
There are a few other ways in which you can reduce the allergens inside the home. These include –
1. Seal your door and windows tightly so that there is no scope for outside air to enter your home.
2. Bathe and brush your pets regularly so as to get rid of dead skin cells and also to make sure that they don’t shed too much.
3. Disinfect the kitchen and washrooms.
4. Vacuum regularly.
Food For Thought
If you are tired of sneezing away to glory in your sanctuary, which you call home, you need to take active steps to reduce allergens that float around inside with the air. Having a home cleaning checklist is the best way to ensure the same. A checklist will never let you forget what needs to be done. However, at the very top of it, make an entry for the seasonal maintenance of your HVAC system. Believe it or not, but in itself, that one thing will drastically improve the quality of air in your home.