Allergies can make you miserable. They are triggered by a particle that agitates your airways. There are many possible causes, including pollen, dust, pet dander, mold spores, and more. If you’ve ever suffered from allergies or you know someone that does, it’s likely that you’ve noticed that they are less severe indoors. This is because the doors and windows are shut, and the level of allergens in the air is typically lower. But, this is even more noticeable if you have an HVAC system in your home. In this article, we will examine five ways that your HVAC system can ease allergies.
- Standard Air Filters
A standard air filter will remove a certain amount of contaminants through the air as it’s circulated throughout your home. Every HVAC system has some type of air filter, and the efficiency is measured with a Minimum Energy Reporting Value or MERV rating. A typical household filter is usually in the 8-12 range, and the higher the MERV rating, the better it will be at removing contaminants.
Any air filter with a MERV rating of 11+ would be considered to be a high efficiency filter. This type of filter would be effective at removing seasonal pollen, but it would still not be adequate to remove mold spores and tobacco smoke. A high MERV rated air filter needs to be changed regularly to ensure that it provides adequate levels of filtration.
At this point, it’s natural to wonder why you wouldn’t simply install the highest MERV rating air filter that you can afford. Unfortunately, there is a tradeoff; the more efficient the filter, the denser it is and this makes it harder to force air through. Every HVAC system relies on adequate airflow to deliver the treated air and keep the components cool. When the system struggles to force the air through a filter, the equipment is overworked, it’s more prone to failure, and the energy bills rise. The highest MERV ratings of 16-20 are typically in use in clinics, industrial clean rooms, and other extreme locations where the equipment is closely matched to the filter. If you’re considered installing an air filter with a MERV rating of 13+, contact your local heating and cooling specialist and ask them about the following options.
- Air Scrubbers and Air Purification Systems
Depending on the exact HVAC system that you have installed in your home, it may be possible to install an in-line air purification system or an air scrubber unit. These systems actively clean the air as it consistently cycles through your HVAC system. This will remove many airborne contaminants, including the allergens mentioned in the introduction. This means that the air that’s coming from your vents will feel fresher and cleaner, and it’s less likely that an allergic reaction will occur.
If you cannot install either of these air cleaning system, it may be time to consider an upgrade. As we’ve seen, you cannot simply install a high efficiency air filter without raising your energy bill and damaging your heating and cooling equipment. If you have an older HVAC system, it may be time to consider an upgrade that can accommodate the air cleaning systems that you need.
- Ductwork Cleaning
A great deal of dust can be consistently circulated throughout your home, and the ductwork is the delivery network. The ductwork is designed to stay clean, and the air movement makes cleaning a rare necessity. But, if the ductwork is cracked, more dust can enter, and treated air can escape, which can compromise the system. Another problem is that vermin can be attracted to the ducts if they have the opportunity to enter. Finally, if you have moisture trapped in the ductwork, it can be an ideal environment for mold, and this will cause mold spores to spread to every vent.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to contact your local HVAC specialist and ask about duct cleaning services. You can attempt to clean the ductwork yourself, but it’s hard to reach far into the system without specialized cleaning equipment, and it’s easy to cause damage. If your ductwork is damaged, you will be losing a lot of efficiency and wasting money on higher energy bills. So, it’s a good idea to get the ductwork repaired, and if the damage is extensive, it’s probably cheaper to replace it entirely.
- Removing Humidity
Many people are unaware that their HVAC system acts as a dehumidifier when it removes heat from their homes. This is important because higher levels of humidity can lead to the growth of toxic mold, which can trigger an allergic reaction. The latest HVAC systems can have a humidity control to make this system more effective. If you have a lot of problems with humidity, you can install a dedicated unit that will be a more efficient option. The most common cause of humidity problems is if your home has been flooded because the floors and drywall can hold sufficient water to facilitate mold growth over time.
- Cleaning the Outdoor Unit
When you clean the outdoor unit of your HVAC system, you will improve the efficiency and the capability to remove allergens. As the name suggests, the outdoor unit is the portion of your system that’s located outside on the side of your home. Some homes may have this unit located on the roof, but this is less common. The cleaning process is pretty simple if you take your time, but if you don’t feel confident tackling this job, ask your local HVAC specialist about servicing and cleaning.
When you clean the outdoor unit, start by clearing away any plant growth that may be growing around it and any debris, such as dead leaves, branches, trash, and dirt. If you have any garden furniture or tools stacked near the unit, now is the time to relocate them. You need the area around the outdoor unit to be clear to keep the air moving without restrictions. Once the debris is cleared away, you can remove the top condenser and spray away any dirt with a garden hose. The condenser fins need to be cleaned before the start of each summer season, but you need to be careful. There is a line that connects the fan motor to the cover that’s easy to damage if you’re careless when cleaning.
If you need some essential annual maintenance for your HVAC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.