For many Americans, allergy season is the worst time to be outside. However, their misery doesn’t end there; allergens follow them inside their home or office, making coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes a 24-7 reality for months on end.
While there isn’t much you can do about outdoor allergies—last time we checked, trees and flowers are still a thing!—you can take steps to make your home or business a better place to breathe. In this article, we’ll review the best gameplan for kicking allergens out, starting with a professional IAQ test.
Determine what is in your air
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. The best place to start improving your home’s air and removing allergens from it is by determining what exactly is in it. Sure, you may have some educated guesses—dog owners can assume there’s some degree of dog hair present—but only a professional indoor air quality test can give you an exact look at the composition of your air.
This is a crucial step because it rules out any surprises. For example, many homeowners with indoor allergy symptoms discover through an IAQ test that the real trigger is airborne mold particles. This then alerts them to a mold infestation somewhere in the house that—once cleaned—results in better breathing and indoor comfort.
A reputable professional IAQ test will take samples of the air in various points of your home and then have those samples holistically analyzed for not only contaminants, but other factors such as air pressure, temperature, and humidity. It’s a full-scope view of what living in your home is like, and it provides you with a vitally needed to-do list for making air quality improvements.
A dirty air filter means polluted air
Our day-to-day lives as homeowners are so busy, it’s easy to overlook something as simple and tucked away as your HVAC air filter. The air filter is the rectangular filter that typically sits in the main air return or register. The air filter plays a surprisingly important role in good indoor air quality. It acts as the primary filter through which indoor air is drawn into the ducts and then sent back out of it.
If your home has a filthy filter, you’re likely sending those contaminants—dust, dirt, pollen, and other allergens—back into the home every time you adjust the thermostat. In, the other direction, that dirt being drawn into the air ducts and the blower, is bad for your HVAC systems. To top it off, a blocked or clogged air filter can prevent the proper intake of air into these systems, which will result in both declining energy-efficiency and potential mechanical issues.
Have your air ducts cleaned
On the subject of your air filter, do you know what’s in your home’s air ducts? Even homeowners who fastidiously clean and dust their home probably have no idea how much dust, dirt, pollen, and pet hair has accumulated in their ducts. Contaminants that are trapped in the ductwork get sent back into the air in your home when you use the air conditioner or furnace. In some cases, this can extend allergy season—and your misery—by many months.
The best way to ensure that your air ducts are free of pollen, pet hair, pet dander, and other common allergens is to have them professionally cleaned. Many local HVAC and indoor air quality companies offer this service. By using professional-grade cleaning equipment, this service completely vacuums out material from even the deepest part of the ducts.
Install additional filters
There’s a common saying in the IAQ world: if you don’t invest in filters, then you’re allowing your lungs to play that role. Filters and air purifiers can make a world of difference when it comes to purifying your home’s air, but it’s essential to understand that there is a difference between the two:
- Filters: These devices use a physical barrier—typically, a replaceable, sponge-like filter—to capture dust, dirt, pollen, pet hair, and more. These filters pull air in, push it through the filter layer, and then expel it back out.
- Purifiers: Ultraviolet light, air purifiers are capable of immediately killing bacteria, viruses, and other living, airborne contaminants that pass through them. They won’t do anything to block dust or physical matter, however.
If you want to take on your indoor allergies, we recommend you install both types of air filters to cover your bases. Of course, the best way to get an individualized recommendation is by scheduling an indoor air quality test.
Unlike the outside, homeowners do not have to just “put up” with allergies indoors. As it turns out, there’s a lot you can do to turn the tide and make living inside a lot better for you and your family.