No matter the year, allergy season is always a dreaded event. In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, allergy season becomes a little more complex. According to the CDC(1), allergies and COVID-19 have many similar symptoms which can make them difficult to discern, including: cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, headache, sore throat, congestion, and runny nose.
Many Northern California residents are seeking to avoid allergy symptoms both to spare themselves pain and discomfort as well as to avoid anything that feels similar to the coronavirus. Wearing a mask can also help protect you from allergens such as pollen or ragweed, but there are steps you can take within your home to protect yourself from allergies. In fact, your HVAC unit may be able to help you avoid allergens or alleviate allergy symptoms within your home.
Want to learn how? Let’s break it down in today’s blog.
Tips to Use Your HVAC Unit To Alleviate Allergies
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, “millions suffer year round from allergy symptoms caused by indoor allergens.”(2) One mistake that many Northern California residents make is to assume that because they’re spending more time indoors, they’re free from indoor allergens. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There are plenty of indoor allergens that could also trigger your allergies, and even trigger asthma for those in the house who suffer from it. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), some of those indoor allergens can include(3):
- Pet dander
- Furniture upholstery
- Dust mites
- Mold and mildew
- Indoor plants
This is to say nothing of pollen or ragweed that can be tracked into the home or can find its way into your air vents. That said, let’s get into the tips.
#1 – Start With the Air Ducts
Ideally, your air ducts should be helping to keep allergens like pollen, dust, mold and mildew out of your air. However, if your ducts haven’t been cleaned in a while, they won’t be able to function at peak performance and allergens could begin to build up. When allergens get into your air ducts, it makes it easier for them to be let out through the vents and into the air you breathe. You won’t see it in most cases. Even mold tends to hide until the problem has become severe.(4)
Typically, mold grows in your air ducts when something’s blocking ventilation, causing a warm or humid atmosphere in the ducts. That’s why if you’re noticing allergy symptoms in your home or signs of mold, mildew, and dust buildup, you should start by scheduling a duct cleaning from Service Champions. Are your ducts too old or leaky? We can replace them with our PureFlow Duct System™, made with all environmentally friendly materials and designed to reduce the potential for mold growth.
#2 – Size Matters
At Service Champions, we often discuss the importance of having HVAC units that are truly the right size for your home. This also applies to keeping allergens out of your HVAC system. If your AC unit is too large, it will cool the space too quickly and then shut off, causing rapid changes in temperature and fluctuating humidity. These are perfect conditions for mold growth, both in your air ducts and in the home that’s being cooled. If this is the problem, Service Champions can help by providing a replacement air conditioner that truly fits your home, as well as thermostats with programs and zoning in order to be more efficient with your home cooling.
#3 – Control the Humidity
Cleaning your air ducts and ensuring you have a properly sized HVAC unit can help to control the humidity in your home. However, sometimes even cooling your home adequately can cause humidity issues. This occurs when the cool, conditioned air meets the warm air in the home. And of course, where there’s humidity, there’s potential for mold growth. Fortunately, this is a common issue, which is why many HVAC systems include a dehumidifying process. If yours does not, perhaps investing in a dehumidifier will help to reduce the allergens in your home, especially when it comes to mold.
#4 – Replace Your Air Filters
Air filters are intended to catch allergens such as pollen, dust, and mold spores, so that they don’t follow the conditioned air through the rest of the system. This is a handy tool, but often homeowners find themselves disappointed with the performance. This is usually because the air filters have been neglected for months and have become clogged. Eventually, all air filters need to be replaced. Before making a larger investment, check your air filters and make sure they don’t need to be replaced. Higher quality filters will also help to catch more airborne particles.
#5 – Clean Your Outdoor HVAC Unit
It’s not just your air ducts and air filters that need to be cleaned. Your outdoor unit may also need cleaning. After all, it’s exposed to the elements all year long. It may have become blocked by leaves and twigs, or it may be covered in dirt and other allergens itself. When not cleaned, those allergens can work their way into your home. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly clean your unit.
Start by turning the unit off. Remove the protective grille from the unit and clear away any dirt, leaves, twigs, etc., that might have gotten past it. From there, you can vacuum pesky areas that refuse to clear off. Just make sure to be gentle around the condenser fins, the metal, spinning blades. These can easily be broken off or bent out of shape. From there, hose the unit down with a water hose. Once that’s done and dried, you can turn the machine on again.
#6 – Clear the Air
An air purifier will also help to clear the air of allergens and boost the indoor air quality of your home. We have a few indoor air quality tools that can help. One is the Air Scrubber Plus™, which is installed within the existing ductwork. It’s used to eliminate 99.9% of indoor allergens and contaminants, including dust, bacteria, and germs. We also have Germicidal UV Lights, harnessing the power of ultraviolet light to clean the air in the space. Germicidal UV Lights are also installed within the ductwork.
#7 – Get a Check Up
In order to stay healthy, many adults go to their doctor for an annual physical. It allows them to catch medical issues before they become too much of a problem or to leave with confidence knowing they’re healthy. The same should apply to your HVAC Unit. If you want it to perform efficiently and keep indoor allergens out of your home, it’s a good idea to have annual tune-ups. At Service Champions, this is something we take very seriously. Our maintenance checks take between 60-90 minutes. We examine, analyze, and clean up to 21 different elements of your HVAC unit to ensure that everything is running smoothly. And as our MVP customers know, tune-ups come complementary with an MVP membership.
Service Champions is full of experts when it comes to not just heating and cooling, but indoor air quality and how your HVAC unit impacts it. Need help alleviating allergy symptoms this year? Contact Service Champions today for more information or to schedule an appointment.
- COVID-19 and Seasonal Allergies FAQs – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Indoor Allergens – AAAAI
- Control Indoor Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality – AAFA
- Mold Hides in Unexpected Places – HouseLogic