Ahh, spring! Or is it ahhchoo? Milder weather, longer days and awesome skiing are just some of the benefits of springtime in Colorado, but as flowers and trees begin to bloom, spring allergies can make the season miserable for those who have them. Fortunately, a few simple steps can minimize the impact of allergens inside your home and greatly improve your comfort. Start by scheduling HVAC maintenance before you turn on your air conditioner for the first time. Next, change your air filters regularly. And lastly, consider installing a whole house air purifier.
The Problem: Allergens
Allergens are airborne particles that make the air harder to breathe and irritate your eyes, throat and nasal passages. Symptoms include coughing and sneezing, red eyes, itchy throat and runny nose. They can also make chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma, worse or even life-threatening.
Allergens include many sources – pet dander, dust mites, mold and insect droppings as well as pollen. These tiny particles make their way into your home through the air and can also be carried in on clothing and shoes. Once inside, they settle on surfaces where they continue to make you and your family uncomfortable.
The Solution: HVAC Maintenance
Minimize the discomfort of spring allergies with these 6 tips:
1. Purchase high quality filters.
Air filters are your first defense against dirty air and allergens in your home. For most homes, filters with a MERV rating 8 to 12 are sufficient to trap particles but still allow proper airflow to keep your equipment running efficiently. Once the filter gets dirty, however, it no longer protects your system or the air quality in your home so it is important to check the filter monthly and replace it every 30 to 90 days.
2. Get rid of debris around the outdoor unit…and the indoor unit.
Your air conditioner draws air into your home through the outdoor condenser unit. Keep the area around it free from leaves, branches and other debris, and clear away any dust and dirt that starts to accumulate. Similarly, the indoor unit should be kept free of dirt and debris. Sweep and dust it frequently to reduce the amount of allergens getting into the system, and refrain from storing items around the equipment.
3. Check for mold.
Mold grows in areas with moisture and humidity. Inspect the air ducts, condensate drip pan and drain, evaporator coils and the air handler every few weeks for signs of mold. Small amounts of mold can be removed fairly easily, but call a professional if the mold is widespread. Left untreated, mold spores can cause serious health problems and even death.
4. Dust registers and return vents first, then everything else.
The registers and return vents circulate the air from the HVAC system, so if they are dusty, your home will be dusty. Clean them with a damp rag –before dusting the other areas — to prevent dust mites and other allergy-causing particles from being spread throughout your home.
5. Duct cleaning.
A periodic air duct cleaning helps keep your home healthier instead or circulating potential problems over and over again.
6. Schedule an HVAC maintenance appointment.
A thorough cleaning of your HVAC equipment before you begin using it for the season will go a long way toward eliminating allergens indoors. Doing so improves the health of your cooling system by clearing dust and any blockages, and also improves the health of your entire home.
7. Have a whole house air purifier installed.
A whole house air purifier reduces allergy and asthma symptoms by removing the smallest particles from the air. In addition, it keeps your HVAC system cleaner as well, prolonging its life and improving its efficiency.