When you think of fall, what comes to mind first? Do you find yourself picturing the colorful foliage around Dumfries, Virginia or does your heart fill with dread in anticipation of months spent sneezing, coughing, and dealing with itchy, watery eyes? If you fall into the latter category, we have good news! Your HVAC system can be a pivotal ally in the struggle against fall allergies. You just need to know how to maximize its potential.
Common Fall Allergens
It’s important to understand the symptoms and causes of fall allergies. After all, the age-old advice to “know your enemy” applies to allergens as well as to hostile armies.
Most fall allergies are pollen-related and classified as “allergic rhinitis” or “hay fever.” Symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, coughing, congestion, fatigue, a runny nose, and itchy eyes, nose, and throat. These are all caused by the histamine that is released when you inhale allergens. Histamine can also trigger an asthma attack.
A variety of plants can cause hay fever, but ragweed is the most common culprit. The majority of people with pollen allergies are allergic to ragweed — not only that, but it’s nearly impossible to escape this allergen. This hardy plant can grow almost anywhere, and its pollen can float through the air for miles.
Although escaping ragweed entirely might be difficult, there are ways to minimize your contact with it. A few minor adjustments to your HVAC system and settings can have a huge impact.
It is also important to carefully manage the humidity in your home. On those still warm days, excess humidity gives mold a chance to grow, and its presence will only aggravate your allergy symptoms. Fortunately, your air conditioner naturally helps to remove moisture from the air. Your bathrooms and kitchen are probably also equipped with exhaust fans for better ventilation. Run these fans during and after activities that release steam into the air, such as a hot shower.
Another simple task is to upgrade your HVAC filter. Consider swapping your regular filter for a HEPA filter (if your system can handle it). Alternatively, you could purchase filters with a higher MERV rating or, at the very least, start changing your filter more often.
To further fortify your home against fall allergens, invest in whole-home replacements for portable dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and other indoor air quality equipment. Whole-home air purifiers, for instance, work with your HVAC system to filter the air in your entire home rather than just a single room. These air purifiers are designed to capture smaller particles than your existing HVAC filter.
If your air conditioner alone cannot manage the humidity in your home, you can boost results with a whole-home dehumidifier. Ventilators can also help to extract humidity from indoor air, replacing stale indoor air with fresh, conditioned air from outside. A UV lamp, meanwhile, boosts indoor air quality by preventing the growth of mold or bacteria in your HVAC system.
Regular HVAC Maintenance
Of course, if you expect your HVAC system to work efficiently and last longer, you need to take good care of it. Preventive maintenance keeps your system efficient and effective. Start by changing any filters regularly, at least every one to three months. Check the filter every few weeks to make sure it hasn’t gotten too dirty to do its job. If you’ve been using subpar filters before now, consider scheduling a duct cleaning to remove any pollutants that have built up in your system.
You may also want to invest in a preventive maintenance plan. At Brennan’s Heating & Air Conditioning, we offer three different planned maintenance agreements to meet your needs — all of which include at least two inspections each year, priority service, and a 10 percent discount on parts and labor. These pre-scheduled visits allow us to catch problems early before they require expensive repairs or replacement of your entire HVAC system.
If you’re tired of fighting fall allergies, give Brennan’s Heating & Air Conditioning a call today at 703-783-0145. Our expert technicians can help you improve indoor air quality, enhance your HVAC system, and transform your home into an allergen-free fortress this fall.
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