The budding trees are a welcome sign of spring. That is unless you are one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies. While you can’t control the air outside, you can control the air quality indoors.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are on the rise. This year, the itchy and watery eyes are starting early due to the warmer winter.
In some states, the airborne pollen counts are so high, you can see the pollen floating around and covering surfaces like cars. Grass and other allergens in our air also cause allergy symptoms.
While most seasonal allergies flare up outside, you need to be careful inside too. Home comfort is directly tied to the air you breathe in your home.
According to the EPA, Americans spend 90-percent of their time inside. So, here are some tips to manage your allergies inside your home.
When you suffer from allergies, humidity aggravates your symptoms. The extra moisture in the air can also lead to mold growth, fungi, dust mites, and other air contaminants.
Whole-house dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air. They’ll make your home feel cooler, and lower the chances of mold growth.
Before you purchase a dehumidifier, talk with your HVAC professional. First, you’ll want to know the causes of humidity in your home before purchasing a unit. An energy audit identifies these areas so you can rest assured the dehumidifier will solve the problem rather than put a band-aid on one.
Having a professional maintain your air conditioning regularly is one more way to find comfort in your own home. Most manufacturers recommend regular maintenance, and Minnick’s rewards you for doing the right thing — like maintenance — with its VIP program.
It’s likely been months since your A/C ran. During the winter months, dust and debris accumulate in the system.
Preventative maintenance of your air conditioner also helps prevent problems.
Old, dusty filters, dirty exterior vents, and an iced-over evaporator coil are some of the minor issues that can be spotted during spring maintenance. If you don’t fix these now, your home won’t be as cool and comfortable as it should be when the temperature soars.
Spring air conditioner maintenance is one way to prevent or minimize costly repairs, and it will have you breathing easier.
To get a fresh start heading into summer, change the air filter in your heating and cooling system. It impacts the air you breathe, your comfort, and the performance of your unit.
The filter gets dirty over time. If you pull the air filter out of your HVAC unit, and it has a dark appearance, it’s likely dirty. Most new air filters are white.
Dirty air filters lower the indoor air quality and lower your HVAC unit’s energy efficiency. The Department of Energy estimates a dirty air filter can lower energy use by as much as 15-percent.
Plus, it can cause the evaporator to ice over. This is the leading cause of an A/C breakdown.
Adding a fresh air filter is directly tied to a well-functioning air conditioner.
It’s something you can do yourself, or ask your heating and cooling professional to do for you.
Itchy, watery eyes are a sign of spring. However, there’s no reason you need to be miserable inside your home. You can improve indoor air quality if you change your air filter, get spring A/C maintenance completed, clean your air ducts, clean your home, and open your windows strategically.
While it’s tempting to open the windows and doors to let fresh air in, this can cause problems for allergy sufferers. When you open the windows, your indoor air quality suffers. The pollen from outside makes its way into your home.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t air out your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says letting outside air in promotes good air quality in your home. You just have to be smart about when you open the windows during allergy season.
If you really want to air out your house, open the windows on days when it’s not windy and the pollen counts are low. The Weather Channel allergy tracker so you can see the allergy forecast in your Washington D.C. or Maryland neighborhood.
On the days you keep your windows closed, you can set your air conditioner to re-circulate to keep air moving through your home.
Don’t underestimate the value of routine cleaning, especially since we spend the majority of our day inside.
Spring cleaning is an important way to control your allergies. Dust, dirt, and pet dander builds-up on floorboards that might be missed by routine housekeeping.
Don’t forget your ceiling fans. Dust accumulates, and when you turn on the fans during the warmer months you can spread the dust that’s built-up on the fans.
You should wash upholstery and clean bedding to get rid of dust mites or other germs that collected over the winter cold and flu season.
A clean home helps reduce allergens. However, the process of cleaning can aggravate your allergies. Wearing a mask can limit your impact, and using natural cleaning products that won’t aggravate your breathing.
Look for the EPA’s “Safer Choice” label when purchasing cleaning products. The government reviews the ingredients, product performance, pH, and packaging to make sure the products that have this label are safer for your family.
More than 2,000 products have a Safer Choice label. Search to see if your favorite cleaning product is on the EPA’s list.
Air duct cleaning removes the dirt and debris that gets stuck in the ductwork that runs throughout your house.
Mold can even grow in your air ducts.
Spring is a great time to clean your ducts because the air in your home will recirculate five to seven times a day when your air conditioner kicks into high gear this summer.
A professional is needed to properly clean your ducts.
Long-term, consider air duct sealing. This is the best solution for a home with healthy air.
Pet dander is one of the most common allergies. It’s released into the air when you brush or wash your dog or cat. To keep it from becoming trapped in your home, groom your pets outside when possible.
What’s the best way you control allergies in your home?