Allergy season in Saraland brings discomfort to thousands of our friends, neighbors, and pets. Indoor ventilation and recirculated air are perfect breeding grounds for the most common allergy triggers. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize the presence of allergy sources within your home.
Common Indoor Allergy Triggers
Here are five indoor allergens that every southwest Alabama homeowner should be aware of and take steps to minimize:
Dust mites – Many people are allergic to dust mite droppings. Dust mites thrive in warm, moist environments, so our climate is perfect for them.
Pet dander – Pet dander is a protein in pet saliva that triggers allergic reactions in many people. It’s sticky and hangs around on pet hair, furniture and the clothing of people who come into contact with pets.
Pollen – We have something blooming almost every month of the year. Good ventilation keeps indoor air fresh, but it can also bring pollen into your home if outdoor air isn’t filtered as it comes inside.
Mold – Mold and mold spores can trigger allergic reactions and sometimes serious illnesses in sensitive people. Mold thrives in damp areas such as crawl spaces and bathrooms.
Cockroaches – A protein in cockroach droppings causes allergic reactions in many people. Everyone along the Gulf Coast knows how roaches love our warm, damp environment.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Here are a few tips for improving your home’s indoor air quality so your family can avoid many allergies:
Clean frequently. Vacuum carpets, upholstery and registers to remove dust and pet hair. Sweep and mop hard floors. Use mild bleach to remove mold in showers and tubs.
Get adequate ventilation. Open windows on mild days to enjoy fresh air. Change the air filter frequently. Ask your HVAC pro if HEPA filters will work in your HVAC system.
Consider a whole-house air purifier. A free-standing air purifier or equipment integrated with your HVAC system can remove many of the allergens from your indoor air.
The ideal comfort zone for indoor humidity is 35 to 50 percent. As cold air holds less moisture than warm air, winter air can be 15% dryer than spring and summer air. How does this impact your health? In most homes without humidifiers, indoor relatively humidity is well below the 35 to 50 percent zone, resulting in mild to severe health related concerns.
Maintaining the right humidity level is a great preventive measure against getting a cold or the flu because bacteria and viruses thrive at both very high and very low humidity, but they don’t do so well in the mid zone. Moist air is also needed to prevent uncomfortable conditions such as itchy skin and dry nasal passages so common during the winter.
As humidity drops, the air saps moisture out of everything in the room. This can cause the wallpaper to peel, hardwood floors to crack and shrink, and expensive musical instruments to become damaged. Static electricity also builds up more, giving you power in your fingertips that could zap sensitive electronics when you touch the power button. By preventing these scenarios, one of the most profound benefits of a humidifier is that it helps protect your sensitive belongings.
Lower Energy Bills
You already know that low humidity causes evaporation to speed up. In addition to drying out wood products, this also more readily evaporates moisture from your skin. The result is a cooling effect, the last thing you want in winter. When the air is more saturated, it wicks less moisture from your skin, helping you feel warmer even if you set the thermostat down a degree or two.
If you’re ready to enjoy these benefits of a humidifier, please contact Air Speciality to schedule a whole-house indoor air quality inspection. Unlike a portable unit, a whole-house humidifier keeps the entire home at a comfortable humidity level so you can enjoy the benefits in every room.
Indoor air quality and ductwork cleaning go hand in hand. In a southern climate, homeowners in Mobile need to pay special attention to the maintenance of their HVAC system due to the humidity and year round, animal-friendly environment. Below is a quick set of facts on how ducts get dirty, plus a short list of tips for cleaner, healthier indoor air.
Dirty Ductwork 101
Ductwork carries air from the handler to the vents in your home. With windows and doors closed, air is re-circulated through the ducts, carrying normal levels of in-home dust and debris. Inevitably, ducts will begin to see dirt build up, especially in homes with pets, renovation projects, dusty roads, or lots of opening and closing of doors and windows.
Once debris lines the ducts, airflow will begin to slow down and your HVAC system will have to work harder. Based on the temperature that you set, the HVAC is designed to push air through a smaller opening in order to maintain the correct temperature.
There are simple things homeowners can do to help keep the HVAC ductwork clean. Other maintenance projects will require a professional to service the system and ensure your HVAC is running at peak performance.
Dirty Ductwork Cleaning
Change the air filter regularly. Inspect it once a month and change it when you can no longer see through it. If the filter gets clogged with dust and dirt, some of that material will blow past the filter and end up in the ductwork.
Clean the house regularly. See all the hair, dust and debris in your vacuum after a good cleaning? That could have ended up in the ductwork.
Regularly groom long-haired pets outside.
Schedule a professional duct inspection every three or four years, and more often if you have any of the aforementioned risk factors.
Schedule an annual maintenance on the HVAC system. A clean and tuned-up heating or cooling system won’t allow as much dirt and debris into the ducts.
Check your evaporator coil to make sure the coil and its condensate pan and drain are clear of mold and bacteria. Consider using UV lights to eradicate these harmful micro-organisms.
To schedule a comprehensive ductwork cleaning, please contact us today at Air Specialty. We offer HVAC maintenance and system protection products and services for your home. For more than 20 years, Air Specialty has been proudly servicing the Mobile and Saraland communities.