4 Ways Your HVAC Unit Can Alleviate AllergiesLegacyAc
Allergies trigger when small agitating particles hit your airways. Maybe it’s yellow pine pollen or sage brush that blows through once a year. Perhaps it’s pet dander you’re allergic to or mold spores in the air. Most of us notice that allergies are less problematic indoors, because there are fewer allergens. It’s not just that the doors and windows keep out extra pollen. Staying indoors can alleviate your allergies because of how HVAC systems work.
A well-maintained HVAC unit can reduce allergies inside any home or business. It does this by removing allergens from the air, lowering the density of allergens that could trigger an allergic attack. A well-sealed building combined with an efficient and filtration-designed HVAC can almost completely remove allergens from the indoor air – drastically increasing measurable air quality.
4 Ways HVAC Unit Can Remove Allergens
1. Filter Household Air through High-MERV Filters
- Every HVAC system has a filter, even single-zone window units. This filter pulls lint and allergens out of the air before it is temperature-treated and cycled back out into the house. The higher quality your filter, the more particles it can remove. Filters of MERV 11 or higher are rated to remove very small allergen particles like seasonal pollen reliably. However, filters must be regularly changed to work correctly.
2. In-Line Air Purification and Air Scrubbing Devices
- Additional air purifiers and air scrubbing devices can be installed in-line with your HVAC unit. This method can further treat your air as it cycles through the HVAC, further removing allergens and any possible immune system irritants before the air reaches the vents in each room.
3. Keep the House Ductwork Clear of Allergens
- A powerful HVAC can cycle most of that dust back through fresh filtration systems. Ducts are designed for airflow without buildup. In good condition, your air ducts rarely need cleaning because the HVAC keeps air moving along and constantly filtered.
4. Remove Humidity from Mold-Risk Areas
- Humidity isn’t much of an issue in our region, but if you have a moist area (ex: dryer outflow or previously flooded material) humidity control via your HVAC system can stop the growth of allergy-causing mold colonies.
First Steps Homeowners Can Do To Reduce Allergens
Reducing allergies inside your home is all about removing allergens. There are three ways to do this. You can stop new allergens from getting in, you can manually clean and remove allergen-bearing items, and you can run your HVAC with a fresh high-quality filter.
Start by stopping new allergens from getting in. Add new caulk around your windows and new weatherstripping around the openings of doors and windows. Find and seal any cracks in your home. Improve on sealed insulation for your attic and garage. Not only will this make your home more temperature-efficient, it also blocks new allergens and helps the HVAC create suction to filter all the air inside.
What Kind of Air Filters Do I Need?
Once your home is sealed, it’s your filter’s time to shine. Change your air filters on the recommended schedule (every 3-9 months) and select a filter with a high MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value – which measures the effectiveness of a filter in stopping dust and other partical contaminants.
Look for filters of 11 MERV or higher, as these are fine enough to catch microscopic pollens and mold spores. Typically, allergy-recommended filters range between MERV 11-13. These filters are high-quality but are still disposable and regularly replaced. With an allergen-rated filter in your HVAC system pulls fresh air in from the interior air register (and possibly an air exchanger). That air is run through the filter before it enters the HVAC unit to reduce dust in the home and on the cooling/heating coils.
The Filtration Needs of Your Household
Each home needs a unique level of filtration for everyone to be safe and comfortable. Someone with an autoimmune disorder, for example, will benefit from a home that is better sealed with a higher MERV grade of filter in the system. Those who are sensitive to air contaminants may also require additional filtration like ionization and UV air scrubbers.
What Do I Do About Air Ducts?
Air ducts rarely need cleaning because they are designed to be cleared by regular airflow. Only in rare situations do your air ducts need cleaning. These include
Detected Mold Growth
Critters Living in the Ducts or Outdoor Vents
Excessive Dirt Buildup
The EPA never recommends duct cleaning, so regular duct cleaning should not be necessary in most homes. The average Nevadan building will have some fine dust in the channels, as this is always blowing around outdoors. But actual lint and allergens are rare as these are steadily pushed through your airways by the HVAC blowers.
The only time duct cleaning will reduce your allergies is if there is mold growth in your ducts or critters living in your attic and/or ductwork. Call a professional if you think your ducts need cleaning for an assessment.
Should I Worry About Humidity?
It’s true that humidity control is a standard way that HVAC prevents allergens in most homes. Air conditioners are natural dehumidifiers, which can prevent typical mold growth in damp homes, as certain mold spores trigger common allergies. Fortunately, damp homes aren’t a problem we face often here in Las Vegas.
You would only need to worry about humidity control if your home has recently flooded from a water leak. Once soaked, home materials like drywall and floor layers can harbor enough moisture to grow mold. In these cases, dehumidification efforts can be used to dry out and kill that mold – and stop the allergy-causing mold spores from generating inside your home.
How Do I Clean My Outdoor Unit?
Keeping your outdoor unit clean improves HVAC efficiency and therefore improves your ability to filter out allergens. But not everyone knows how to clean the outdoor unit on a regular basis to keep it working correctly.
Find your outdoor unit either walking the perimeter of your home or (as is common Nevada) on your roof. Start by clearing away any branches and leaves from your outdoor unit, and trimming nearby foliage to stay out of the f ins. Then you can remove the top condenser and use a hose to spray dirt out the way it came in – through the sides. Sometimes the fins are too close together which can cause dirt to travel a little further inside the unit.
Clean the fins at least once year, preferably around the start of summer when your AC is about to be turned back on.Be careful opening and cleaning your outdoor unit, as there is a wire that connects the inner wiring to the fin motor in the top cover. This cleaning will make your HVAC run more efficiently.
What Else Can Help With Allergens?
If you are fighting allergies indoors, any additional method of clearing allergens can improve your experience. Air purifiers add another layer of protection by scrubbing even more particles from the air and neutralizing bacteria in the air that might also irritate your immune system. With air scrubbers and purifiers installed in-line with your HVAC, you can significantly reduce the dust and mites in your home. Removing allergens and killing bacteria in the air can also significantly reduce the frequency that your family gets sick, and can increase your recovery time due to good air quality.
Using Your HVAC to Fight Allergies
HVAC systems specialize in removing unwanted particles from your home or office air. Starting with a MERV 11 or higher disposable filter, HVAC filters every cycle of air, removing more and more allergens with every round. As allergens are removed, your allergies have less to respond to which can reduce allergy symptoms. While HVAC can’t eliminate indoor allergies, we can tune-up your HVAC to significantly reduce the concentration of allergens in the air. With a high-quality filter and additional ionization purifier and air scrubber measures, you can remove nearly all the airborne toxins, pollens, mold spores, and bacteria that cause allergic symptoms.
The better your HVAC is maintained, the better it can keep your home free of allergens and save you those allergy symptoms. Contact us today to discuss the HVAC maintenance and improvements your home may need to become an allergy-free zone.