Allergies are never a welcomed surprise. You wake up one day with itchy eyes, sneezing and suddenly you know it’s that time of year again. Some of us struggle with things like ragweed and pollen, while others have to suffer through things like hay fever, mold or something obscure that most people don’t even know about called Timothy Grass. In fact, you may actually be allergic to something else entirely. You spend your whole life thinking ragweed is what’s making you sneeze when in reality it’s actually Ashe Juniper. The point is, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact cause without consulting with an experienced allergist.
Perhaps the most unexpected culprit of allergies is poor indoor air quality. This is especially the case in homes where the HVAC system has not been properly maintained, leaving dust, hair, debris and mold to accumulate throughout the house. Not only can this cause issues such as sneezing and itchy eyes, but it can also play a more sinister role when it comes to respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. It’s easy to scoff at poor air quality and assume it’s not that big of a deal. After all, you can’t see what’s hurting you and may not feel unhealthy in any way, shape, or form, but when you consider the science it becomes a much more serious issue.
Essentially, air (the combination of oxygen, nitrogen and a few other necessary gases) is being tainted by the foreign particles which are becoming airborne. This means that, on an elemental level, your lungs are receiving less nitrogen and oxygen and more sulfur, carbon and hydrogen. This can have extremely negative effects on the way the body functions. In fact, the E.P.A. has said that most Americans in the twenty-first century spend more than eighty-five percent of their lives indoors, which means that indoor airborne toxins pose a much higher risk to our health and daily lives than things such as ragweed, pollen, or the obscure Ashe Juniper.
Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of ways to combat the effects of indoor airborne allergens. If you take these simple steps towards improving the quality of air in your home, then you will be well on your way to a sneeze-free and peaceful night sleep.
Keep Your ‘Ducts’ in a Row
The ducts of your HVAC system are easily bombarded with dust, debris, hair, mold, and a number of other unpleasant nuisances, so it’s important to have them cleaned out by a professional every three to five years. Otherwise, all of those allergens trapped inside will be pushed out into your home’s air, which will then be breathed in by you and your family.
Mind the Filters
The filters in your HVAC system, no matter which type of system you have, should be changed out every thirty to ninety days. Typically, the average for this being done should be sixty days but if you live in a home with more than three people and more than one pet, then it should be done more often. If you live alone with no pets or just have a vacation home, then it can go about bit longer. The important thing is that they are changed out regularly, otherwise they won’t be able to filter out allergens once they’re full. A clogged filter can also restrict airflow into the system, which can be a burden on your system’s air handler.
Stay on Top of Dust
As with most things in life, the more disciplined and vigilant you are, the better off you will be. If you make an effort to regularly wipe down surfaces, dust hard to reach areas, vacuum and mop, and scrub kitchen and bathroom surfaces, then you’re essentially cutting off those allergens at the pass.
Turn on the Fan in your Bathroom
Many people think that the exhaust fan in their bathroom is simply there to remove steam so that mirrors don’t get fogged up, and many people don’t even turn them on. However, steam produces a lot of moisture, which in turn leads to mildew and mold growth. Even if you can’t visibly see mold on bathroom surfaces, it can still exist in ceilings, walls, closets and cabinets. That’s why it’s a good idea to turn on the fan every time you take a bath or shower so that excess moisture is vented outside.
Do the Laundry
Even if you’re curled up in a ball under a mountain of blankets and sheets, protected from harsh dangers of the outside world, you still may not be safe from common allergens. Airborne allergens, from both indoors and out, can become trapped in a number of fibrous surfaces. Not only does this mean shirts, pants, socks, shoes, hats, etc, but also sheets, blankets, dust covers, bed skirts and curtains. To stay on top of these types of allergens, make sure you wash all fibrous materials in hot or warm water on a regular basis. Curtains may need to be dry cleaned. This practice also helps combat other dangers such as mites and bedbugs.
We all know that smoking is bad for us and those around us, but did you know that ten percent of the population is allergic to cigarette smoke? Particles from cigarette smoke can become trapped in surfaces (particularly fibrous ones like carpet, drapes and upholstered furniture), which can then trigger allergies in people who inhale them. This is called “third-hand” smoke. Even if someone isn’t allergic to tobacco itself, those particles can make pre-existing allergies like ragweed and pollen worse.
Get Fresh Air
The best way to get rid of existing allergens in your home is to simply open the windows to let in fresh air. It may seem counterintuitive, as you would be letting outside allergens in, but as was previously mentioned, indoor airborne particles do more harm. Opening the windows on days when you can do without heat and air to ventilate those toxins is a good practice throughout the year.
Take Care of Your Pets
If you live in a house with a pet, or a few of them, then you already know how much hair can gather throughout the home, increasing the risk of itchy eyes and sneezing. If you take steps to groom those pets on a regular basis, then they will shed less in the house, which will, in turn, reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions.
If you’re concerned about your indoor air quality and would like to have a professional HVAC company service your system in Jacksonville or surrounding areas, call the experts at J&W Heating and Air.