According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four American adults suffers from seasonal allergies. That’s a number that continues to go up, and many of those people experience severe symptoms in summer. This is a time of year when you’re often dealing with pollen from ragweed, grass, and trees.

You may also have to deal with insect bites and allergies related to mold, nettle and mugwort. Your home should be a sanctuary from these triggers, but indoor air quality (IAQ) can be even worse. Let’s explore the steps you can take to avoid triggers and minimize symptoms.

HVAC Filter

An HVAC filter can be easily forgotten, but it plays a significant role in IAQ. Ducted and even ductless systems move a significant amount of air. That results in great potential to disperse allergens throughout a home and keep them airborne. The dust and other particles are also terrible for the efficiency and lifespan of your HVAC equipment. For a central system and mini-split systems, check the filter each month, and replace as needed.

You should also upgrade your HVAC filter if you can. Most filters have a minimum efficiency report value (MERV) rating. Most modern HVAC systems support up to MERV 13. At MERV 13, you have enough filtration to block all household allergens. Despite this, the average homeowner uses a MERV less than 8. Higher MERV filters do cost a bit more, but they’re certainly worth it for those with allergies.

Spring HVAC Tune-Up

You should also schedule an HVAC tune-up in spring prior to needing to run your air conditioning. There are a number of reasons to do this, but we’ll focus on IAQ here. All ACs and heat pumps have an evaporator coil, which is typically located inside the home. It’s important to clean that coil every year. It collects dust, which dirties the air that passes over it. Over time, it can also become a breeding ground for biological growth, which is then distributed throughout the home.

Energy Audit

Your home is a complex system, and the industry recommendation is to schedule a home energy audit about every three years. Your auditor will assess the entire building envelope of your home. That includes the home’s seal, roof, windows, door, insulation, HVAC system and so forth. At the completion of the audit, you’ll get a report that itemizes all of the energy efficiency deficiencies with the home. This will extend to indoor air quality as well. Audits typically include indoor air quality testing. You’ll also get information about air sealing, the HVAC equipment itself and so forth.

Air Sealing

If your home energy audit reveals that you have a loose seal, then we recommend scheduling air sealing as soon as possible. Earlier, we mentioned that not enough ventilation leads to problems with allergens. Well, too much natural ventilation does as well. This includes cracks in your attic, walls and foundation and leaks in between window and door frames. It’s an entry point for pests. It also allows for airflow that brings pollen, dirt and many other allergens into the home. Through air sealing, we’ll close off all of those imperfections to prevent that unwanted intrusion.

Whole-House Air Purifier

There is a wide range of airborne pollutants and contaminants that can trigger your allergies and exacerbate your symptoms. One of the best ways to reduce the level of those particulates is whole-house air purification. There are many different types of air purifiers on the market. One of the most popular is NuShield.

NuShield operates on the return side of your HVAC system, such as in your ducts. This avoids any problems with airflow restrictions that could occur on the supply side. These systems typically have multiple stages: mechanical, absorptive, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

The mechanical stage includes a prefilter. Its role is to block the largest particulates in order to protect the system and preserve your other filter media. There is also a pleated mechanical filter that traps even more particulates. In fact, it traps 99.9% of pollen, dust, pet dander, and other allergens. It traps 95% of particles down to 0.3 microns and a significant portion of fine particulate matter as well.

There is also an activated carbon stage. Activated carbon is an absorptive substance with substantial surface area. It absorbs unpleasant smells from the home, but it also absorbs gases and chemical vapors. These include cooking fumes, ozone, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Finally, there is a UV stage. UV-C is a germicidal light. It neutralizes germs and viruses. It can also neutralize things like dust mite eggs and fungal and mold spores.

By using an air purifier like NuShield, you can significantly improve the air quality in your home, ensuring a healthier and more comfortable living environment for you and your family.

Other Considerations

Dust often to avoid indoor contamination, and rely on your cooling and ventilation system. If you do want to open your windows and doors for controlled natural ventilation, we recommend upgrading to allergy screens. These have a fine enough mesh to block pollen and other allergens. You should also monitor the local air quality index (AQI). Avoid opening windows when the AQI is above 100.

Another consideration is a whole-house dehumidifier. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends an RH of between 30% and 50%. That can be difficult to achieve with AC alone even with a whole-house fan. A dehumidifier is the solution. Your optimal RH makes it easier to breathe and you less prone to irritation when you breathe. There will also be fewer airborne allergens because there is less water vapor in the air.

Your Local IAQ Specialists in Dixon

Greiner Heating, Air, and Electric is proud to serve Dixon and all of Solano and Yolo counties. We specialize in IAQ and perform energy audits and air sealing. Our team also installs and services whole-house fans and air purifiers. We have HVAC technicians that specialize in both ductless and ducted heating and cooling systems.

They also install thermostats and home zoning and swap out HVAC filters. You can count on us for tank water heaters, heat pump, and water heater installation and replacement. Our electricians perform inspections, repairs, and upgrades, including electrical panels. We also install attic insulation. Call us today or contact us online to learn more about these services or to schedule an appointment.

Greiner Heating, Air and Electric

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