There’s More to Fall than Sniffles & Cough Drops: Fighting Allergies with IAQ

It’s almost that time of year again – when the office becomes a chorus of sniffles, when you send your kids off to school with more tissue packages than completed homework assignments, and when your home air fresheners might as well be Vick’s scented. If you’re one of the millions of seasonal allergy sufferers in America, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.
Allergy suffers are plagued by a number of allergens, including mold, pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. These allergen particles are carried through the air and eventually settle onto your home’s furniture, floors, and other surfaces. The larger particles, such as pollen and dust mites, are the quickest to fall.
While seasonal allergies may seem as inevitable as death and taxes, there are several actions you can take to improve the indoor air quality in your home.
To reduce dust mites, keep surfaces clean and uncluttered. It’s wise to regularly wash sheets and pillow cases in hot water.  Furthermore, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends vacuuming at least once a week, preferably with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter or at least double filter bags to reduce dust production.  
If you have an allergy sufferer in your family, its best to keep doors and windows closed and properly sealed during pollen season. If the weather is warm, consider relying on A/C.
To reduce dust mite and mold growth, it is crucial to reduce humidity in your home. A humidity level of around 50% is ideal. For areas like a basement or crawl space, you may wish to install a dehumidifier.
As part of your routine heating and cooling maintenance, be sure to have your air filters changed regularly. The frequency at which the air filter needs to be changed varies based on your unit, but this action may be necessary as often as once a month during allergy season. For the highest performance, check your air filters MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. A MERV rating of 14-16 represents high efficiency.
HEPA filters may be used if recommended by a medical professional. However, these filters are not necessarily suitable for all homeowners and all units, as they may restrict airflow and can require more power usage from your HVAC equipment.
If you happen to notice a moldy, musty, or generally unpleasant smell from your vents, you may wish to have your ducts cleaned and inspected by a HVAC professional, as they may be harboring mold. 
If you find yourself considering replacing your aging or under-performing HVAC system, a solid option may be a unit that replaces indoor air with filtered outdoor air.
 For detailed information about unit replacement, dehumidifiers, air filters, duct cleaning, or routine maintenance, give Brandywine Valley a call at 610-692-3900.