According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, over 25 million people in the United States suffer from asthma. When asthma attacks occur, the chest tightens and the sufferer has a shortness of breath or wheeze. It can happen unexpectedly, and may be triggered by specific things in your everyday environment, or even allergies.
Pollutants and allergens such as pollen, ragweed, mold, pet dander and cigarette smoke are common triggers of both asthma and allergies. Therefore, it is essential to clear the home of as many impurities in the air as possible. While there are many methods of doing this, most people already have a tool to help—their furnace. Discover how your heating and cooling system can relieve your asthma symptoms.
- Air Filters Make the Difference
The purpose of a filter in the HVAC unit is to maintain your indoor quality by capturing dust and other pollutants. Furnace filters are essential for asthma and allergies, because the filter captures the pollen, mold, pet dander and common airborne allergens—keeping it out of the air. Cleaner indoor air can make a big difference in how easy it is to breathe indoors for those with respiratory conditions. This is why it is important to change your air filters frequently.
- What Filter Should You Use?
Choosing an air filter to help prevent asthma symptoms requires research because each filter has a rating called a MERV. First, you want to use a filter that fits your system. Getting a precise measurement and MERV rating is important, so the filter can function efficiently. The higher the rating, the more efficient the filter is at capturing allergens and airborne pollutants. Consider a filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 13 for the best results.
As you can see, it is vital that you choose the right furnace filter and change them regularly. Not only will doing this keep the air that flows through your home cleaner and healthier for you and your family, but it may also reduce heating and cooling costs too.
You’ve probably wondered if there’s much difference between an air filter and air purifier. The quick and simple answer to this question is ‘YES’. Although they both work to alleviate contaminants inside your home, they do it in very different ways.
How Does an Air Filter Work?
Air filters for the home are part of your HVAC system. They allow air to re-circulate back through your home after filtering out impurities such as pet dander, dead skin, cigarette smoke, pollen, among others. The air filters help your HVAC system run at peak performance and extend the life of the HVAC unit by keeping dust and dirt from entering the ducts. Over time, the filter will become clogged with the debris that it removes from the air, loosing efficiency. This is why it’s so important to replace your air filter every 30 to 90 days, depending upon the filter type.
A clean air filter has a tremendous impact on the quality of air inside your home. Air filters for allergy season can help alleviate a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including runny, stuffy nose, sneezing and wheezing by catching allergens in the air.
What Does an Air Purifier Do?
A typical air purifier uses the same method for filtration to remove pollutants from the air such as cigarette smoke, pollen, dust, etc. In this way, it removes the same sort of impurities that home air filters do, and some people use them to specifically remove odors.
There are several types of air purifiers and each work a bit differently. You just have to pick the better fit for your needs. For example, the activated carbon purifier is commonly used to remove odors from the air, but falls short when it comes to removing pollen, dust or other fine particles.
Sources: GAC Services, Air Care Online, My Air Purifier
Wonder why your allergies are kicking in this late in the year? Fall allergy triggers are different, but they can cause just as many symptoms as spring. The biggest factors are ragweed, mold and dust mites.
Ragweed starts releasing pollen in late August and can last through October. Even if ragweed doesn’t grow where you live, winds help the pollen travel hundreds of miles.
Mold can grow in any damp areas in or around your home. Whether from excess rains or a pile of damp leaves, the fall season can see an increase in conditions that are ideal breeding grounds for mold.
Dust mites build up during the humid summer months but can get stirred back into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall.
Symptoms to Look Out For…
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
How to Prevent/ Manage Symptoms
- Check pollen counts in your area and try to stay indoors – with the doors and windows closed – when pollen is at its peak.
- Wear a mask when you rake leaves so you don’t breathe in mold spores.
- Mold and other allergens can get trapped in the vents over summer so clean them before turning on your heating system for the first time
- Change your air filter. A fresh filter will help your heating and cooling system run smoother and will eliminate mold, dust mites and allergens in the air
- If necessary, use a humidifier to keep air humidity between 35% and 50%
Stay tuned for our next blog or visit us at Air Filters Delivered
Like any piece of equipment, your furnace or air conditioner needs regular maintenance to keep it running efficiently. One of the simplest yet most effective things you can do is to make sure the air filter gets changed regularly. A dirty filter can have a number of negative consequences for you and your wallet…
- A Dirty Filter Will Increase Your Electric Bill – the dirtier the filter, the more your system will work, causing it to consume more energy
- A Dirty Air Filter Will Shorten the Life Span of Your Equipment – it restricts the air flow and causes the unit to work that much harder
- A Dirty Air Filter Will Affect Your Health – the presence of pollen, pet dander and allergens will increase and could cause health problems for you and your family
- A Dirty Filter Will Increase Cleaning Costs – dust will accumulate in your air ducts and increase the frequency of needing to have them cleaned
Disposable filters need to be changed every 1 to 3 months depending on the season, quality of filter purchased, and whether you have pets. Or, if you opt for washable filters, they will need to be cleaned every 2 weeks and changed every 3 to 6 months. Making this a priority for your home will make life easier in the long run – and save you money! For more tips and useful information on your filters, visit Air Filters Delivered!
How Can Pet Allergens Affect You?
We love our pets! But pet dander can trigger allergic reactions or asthma symptoms in certain individuals. The severity of the symptoms may vary from person to person, but it usually includes congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, itching, watery eyes, rashes and more. For these people that suffer severe allergies, breathing pet dander and allergens can lead to all those symptoms and even asthma.
What is Pet Dander?
Pet dander is composed of tiny flecks of skin shed. Because these particles are so lightweight, they can remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and will stick to your furniture, bedding and carpets, making dander easy to spread around your home. Pets also bring pollen, dust and other common pollutants from outside, aggravating symptoms for allergy sufferers.
How Can Pet Owners Control Air Quality at Home?
If you are extremely sensitive to these types of allergens, you should know by now that it may not be a good idea to have pets in the home. However, for many of us, our pets are very important members of our family so taking the right precautions is necessary to maintain good air quality at home.
Keep pets out of bedrooms and not allowing them on furniture, especially upholstery, may be a good way to start. Avoid carpeting rooms if possible and do not allow dust to accumulate on surfaces by constantly vacuuming or dusting the home. Finally, make sure you use a high quality air filter with superior air filtration and efficiency so pet allergens are properly captured and do not return to your air. For people with chronic allergies, we recommend a MERV 11 filter or higher to trap as much allergens as possible. You will also need to change your filter regularly to maintain maximum efficiency and better air quality.