Allergy symptoms range from mild to debilitating, so it makes sense to reduce your exposure to allergy triggers by any means possible. When used correctly, your air conditioning (AC) system is one of your home’s most important anti-allergen allies.
Maintaining and enhancing your AC system are two ways to combat seasonal and year-round allergies. Here’s what homeowners should know.
Give Your AC System Some Lo-Tech Boosts
Allergy triggers take many forms. Some allergens are seasonal symptom-producers that come and go throughout the year.
For example, pollens from grasses and trees are seasonal vexations that only bother allergic people for a few months. Spring and autumn are the most common times for seasonal allergies to flare up due to pollen.
Help your AC system with seasonal allergies by keeping all windows closed during high pollen-count days. Maintain the seal on your home’s windows even when a nice breeze is blowing. A properly running, standard AC unit can cut the amount of pollen in your indoor air by 30 percent if you keep the windows closed.
Year-round allergens affect people in any season. These triggers may produce chronic low-level symptoms including a runny nose, sneezing, and dry skin. Year-round allergies can also cause asthma attacks and severe fatigue.
Some year-round allergy triggers include:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Cockroach droppings
Help your AC unit out by routinely vacuuming up dust and pet hair. Hire a pest control service to eliminate cockroaches, ants, and other pests that trigger allergies.
To help your AC unit combat mold allergies, have a dehumidifier installed in your home. Mold, mildew, and insects love spaces that are soaked with moisture. By lowering the humidity level in your home to 45 percent or less, you help your AC system deliver clean, mold-free air.
Maintain Your AC System to Reduce Allergies
Whether the unit is brand new or past its prime, every AC system requires routine maintenance. In homes with allergy sufferers, it’s even more important to keep the AC system in tune.
Ideally, you should schedule a routine inspection and servicing of your HVAC system both before you turn on your AC unit in the spring and as you turn on your heating system in the fall. Your AC system is made up of a number of key components, each of which can cause your system to be less efficient or fail altogether.
During the inspection, your HVAC professional will check and test parts of your AC system, including:
- Electrical connections
- Evaporative coils
- Fans and motors
- Drain pan or pipes
During semi-annual inspections, your HVAC professional can spot potential problems that could lead to future AC-system failure when you need your AC system the most. Pre-season AC tune-ups also help your AC unit efficiently deliver clean, cool air at the correct pressure and temperature for your home.
Optimize Your Filtration for Cleaner Air
The most important part of routine maintenance for your AC unit is changing out the filter in the main appliance’s air return. If you’re changing out the filter more frequently than recommended and you still have allergy issues, consider upgrading your AC unit’s filtration system.
Filter upgrades can be as simple or as extensive as you care to go, depending on the type of HVAC or AC system you own. First, understand how filters are rated. The measuring unit for HVAC filters is the MERV (minimum efficiency recording value), which ranges from 1 to 20.
A filter with a measurement of 1 MERV offers low air filtration. A MERV score of 20 means that the filter gives the maximum amount of particulate filtration available.
For an easy upgrade, switch your standard air-return filter to a higher grade of filter. Medium efficiency filters offer MERV ratings between 5 and 13 and require no other upgrades to your system.
Standard high-efficiency, or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air), filters are rated between 13 and 20 MERVs. However, the superior efficiency of a HEPA filter takes its toll on your AC or HVAC system. Your AC unit must work harder to move air and may not be able to compensate for the filtration burden.
Your HVAC professional can upgrade or replace your system to operate with HEPA filtration. Other air-cleaning upgrades that can be made to your AC system include:
- Extended media filters
- Electrostatic filters
- Ultraviolet filters
These upgrades require some retrofitting of older AC systems. In some cases, a filter upgrade is possible only with a new AC or HVAC system. In that case, a fresh-from-the-factory, high-efficiency AC system with enhanced filtration offers you a brand new opportunity to breathe easy and cut your energy costs.
Your professional HVAC repair and installation service can help you choose the best filtration system for your AC unit. The HVAC professionals can also suggest AC systems that benefit other customers who have known allergy issues.
Contact the HVAC pros at Advanced Heating & Cooling to learn more allergy-fighting tips. We improve the air quality in homes throughout Meridian, Boise, Treasure Valley, and Nampa, Idaho.