Summer allergies can put a damper on your outdoor fun, and even cause problems for you or your loved ones when you head inside, depending on the quality of your indoor air. However, while you can’t control the pollutants outside your home, you can alleviate some symptoms of summer allergies by regularly maintaining your air conditioner and ensuring that your home isn’t a harbor for dust and pollen.
Keeping your home free of contaminants
If you want to alleviate summer allergies while you’re inside, here are a few steps that you can take to ensure your home’s air quality remains high:
- Dust with a damp cloth to capture dust and other contaminants, rather than spreading it around or releasing it into your indoor air.
- Consider buying a vacuum with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter or bags, which trap smaller particles than more standard vacuums on the market.
- Wash your sheets weekly with hot water, to kill any living microorganisms that could be exacerbating summer allergies. Dry your sheets at a high setting.
- Keep your windows closed as much as possible, which will minimize the flow of pollen and dust into your indoor air.
Performing regular air-conditioner maintenance
When your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system is working optimally, it can help airflow remain constant, and ensures that your system isn’t allowing polluted outdoor air to leak into your home. Here are some preventive-maintenance steps that you can take:
- Clean or change your air filter at least every six to eight weeks. This will lower the dust level in your home. Your filters trap contaminants that are flowing in your home’s air, but filters can become clogged quickly. Check them monthly to ensure that they’re clean. Hold them up to a light to check for clogs.
- Install a higher-density air filter that traps more particles and pollen. Select the highest MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) that your HVAC system can handle. Check your system’s owner’s manual to determine the maximum density of filter that’s compatible with your system or ask your HVAC technician. If you select a filter that is too dense, it can stress your air handler by inhibiting airflow. The MERV scale runs from one to 16. Most HVAC systems work well with filters in the nine to 13 range. Additionally, consider using pleated filters, which can trap more particulates than their flat counterparts.
- Have an HVAC contractor inspect and service your air conditioner each season. The maintenance check includes testing the air pressure in the system. If the technician finds low pressure at a register, he should investigate whether you have leaks in your ductwork. If you do, your contractor can seal them for you. Leaking ducts pick up dust and debris from the areas through which they run and blow it through your home, irritating summer allergies. Your ducts may pass through walls, the ceiling or attic, and other places where you can’t clean. Your technician also will clean the inside of your air handler, removing dust and lowering the irritants that are blowing through your ducts.
If you would like to learn more about HVAC maintenance and how it can reduce summer allergies, contact us at Overland Park Heating & Cooling. We have provided residential and commercial HVAC services throughout the Kansas City region since 1983, and look forward to helping you with all of your heating and cooling needs.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about summer allergies and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.