woman blowing nose from allergens

Keeping Spring Allergens Outdoors: How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Keeping Spring Allergens Outdoors: How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Has it ever seemed like the air quality was worse inside your home than it was outside? Do you have a hard time catching your breath when you come home from work and try to relax?   If you suspect that your home's ventilation system needs a checkup, you're probably right. Sinus infections affect more than 30 million people. They can be caused by mold, pet hair, or even excessive dust.

If you've got allergies or a sinus infection that won't quit, you might need to find a new strategy to improve the quality of the air in your home.

In this article, we'll give you the inside scoop on some of the most common pollutants that homeowners have to deal with. We'll also help you find a reputable local contractor.

Common Contaminants

The first step toward improving the air quality in your home is to create a checklist of possible contaminants. If you have a pet that doesn't seem to shed, that hair could be making its way up into your vents.

If your kids seem to get sick and stay sick, you could have a problem with your HVAC system.

Musty indoor air has several possible causes. Here are a few of the most common culprits we've found.

pet dander

Pet Hair

We all love our pets, but did you know that even short-haired dogs shed a few times per year? If your allergies seem to get worse in the winter and summer, it might be due to your pet.

When you talk to your HVAC technician, let them know that you would like to clear your air vents. They'll be able to do a thorough inspection and cleaning.

If you have more than two or three pets, you might also want to clean and re-paint your walls periodically. You should use zero-VOC paint, however.

That's paint that doesn't have volatile organic compounds, toxic chemicals that are slowly released into your home.

Mold

One of the most important steps in improving your indoor air quality standards is to constantly check for mold.

Mold can enter a home through the attic, basement, or walls. If you notice standing water in your home or a wall feels soft to the touch, you might have a problem with black mold.

Another symptom of a mold problem is water droplets on the ceiling. If you see that water is dripping down one of your interior walls, it's time to get an inspection.

If you're thinking of selling your home, start the mold remediation process at least six months before you list it. When your HVAC contractor does their assessment of your ducts, they'll be able to tell you if they spot any mold.

Mold allergies can make your eyes water and your chest hurt. Talk to your doctor if you suspect that you have an allergy or illness caused by mold.

Dust Mites

Another common indoor pollutant is dander from dust mites. Even if you dust regularly, you could have these intrusive little pests in your home.

Dust mites love to nest in bedding and fabric-covered furniture. They also feed on dead skin cells from humans and pets alike.

They can cause symptoms that look a lot like seasonal allergies or asthma: coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, and trouble breathing.

It's a good idea to wash your bedding in hot water and dry on high heat at least twice per month. This will cut down on the number of dust mites that nest in your pillow and blankets, robbing them of the chance to reproduce.

If you suspect that you have a dust mite problem, you should talk to your local HVAC company about getting high-power, anti-allergy air filters. You might also want to install an air filtration system that treats all of the air in your home.

Cleaning Products

No conversation about air quality would be complete without mentioning the most common indoor air pollutant: cleaning products.

You may not realize it, but many cleaning products include toxic chemicals. Using some air fresheners and furniture polishes may end up making your asthma worse.

The problem with harsh cleaning products is that their residue can get trapped in your HVAC system, impacting your breathing long after you're done using them.

Try to find "green" cleaning chemicals that get the job done without using chemicals. Surprisingly, baking soda and vinegar perform well on almost any cleaning task.

You can even wash mirrors and windows with vinegar! Check your local health food store for more eco-friendly cleaning products.

How You Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

Improving your indoor air quality is a process, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Talk to your HVAC contractor about your concerns and let them investigate the state of your ducts, furnace, and central air.

Here are a few quick ways to improve the air in your home until you can get the HVAC team out to inspect your property.

vacuum up dust

Dusting and Cleaning

The first thing to do before you have an HVAC inspection is to thoroughly mop, dust, and vacuum your home. If you can, use a vacuum bag that has an anti-allergen filter on it.

The best way to clean your home is to start by dusting the walls. If you start at the top of every room and work your way down to the floor, you'll trap more dust in your mop.

One great way to trap dust is by wetting a microfiber cloth. They're great for mopping and dusting because all you have to use is water.

You can skip heavy-duty cleaning chemicals when you have a microfiber mop or cloth.

If you have pets, wash all pet bedding and dry on high heat. Do the same for all of the bedding in your home, including living room pillows.

Getting Regular HVAC Checkups

Wondering how to improve air quality and save money? Getting regular maintenance on your HVAC system will save you money in the long run.

Ideally, you should get your system looked at at least twice per year. You should get your digital thermostat calibrated before winter hits and get your furnace evaluated at the same time.

Even if you had to replace your entire HVAC system, you'd still be adding to the value of your home.

How can you tell if it's time to replace your HVAC equipment? Typically, they last for 15 to 20 years. If your system is older than that, talk to your local HVAC contractor about your options.

Taking the time to upgrade and maintain your heating and cooling systems is essential to your health as well.

Replacing Air Filters

Another step you can take to extend the life of your HVAC system is to replace the air filters regularly. You can do this every few months: just ask your contractor to show you where the air filters are located.

Having an HVAC system is a lot like having a car. If you dedicate the time to maintenance, you can delay major repairs.

Repair or Replace?

How can you know if it's time to replace your HVAC system. Your contractor will let you know, but there are a few ways you can tell your HVAC needs an upgrade.

First, it's always breaking. If you're scheduling service calls every few months to fix yet another part, you'll probably save money by replacing your furnace and AC unit.

Second, your system is more than 10 to 15 years old. Even if it still works, it might be time for an upgrade.

Having a programmable thermostat or a variable-speed furnace can help you save money on your heating and cooling bills.

Finally, you should consider replacement when the cost of repair is more than half of the value of your furnace or AC unit. Just like a car, it's worthwhile to make repairs until they become too expensive.

hvac contractor

How to Find the Best Local HVAC Contractor

When you're looking for an HVAC contractor, it's important to make sure that they have certified technicians who have passed rigorous background checks.

If you don't know who to call, talk to your friends and work colleagues. They might know a particular contractor that can perform HVAC cleaning and repair.

Another quality to look for in a contractor is their ability to respond to emergencies. If your furnace were to break down outside of office hours, you would need a company that can guarantee a swift response time.

We can work with homeowners and business owners to upgrade and maintain their HVAC systems. We care about your indoor air quality!

We have more than 50 years of experience and service customers from south of Jefferson County to St. Charles County. Our technicians are certified union members and have undergone strict background checks.

We also offer financing, emergency service calls, and a generous referral program.

To get started, give us a call at one of our two locations or send us a note online. We have more than 40 trucks standing by to give you top-notch HVAC service and repair. Looking forward to meeting with you!

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