If you're among the 25 percent of Canadians who suffer from hay fever and other allergies each year, you might be bracing yourself for a miserable spring. But it's not just pollen that can cause sneezing, runny noses, and red eyes. Dust mites, pet dander, and a host of other airborne particles common in your home can also trigger allergy symptoms.
So what does this have to do with your HVAC system? As it turns out, your HVAC system can play a tremendous role in reducing the amount of allergy-triggering airborne particles present in your home's indoor air. The following shows how you can use your heating and cooling unit to fight allergies and make your home a better place to breathe in.
Circulation Is the Key
Good ventilation plays an important part in fighting allergies. Bringing fresh air into your home can actually reduce the number of airborne pollutants in your home—at least as long as you have a good way of removing the old air. Kitchen and bathroom exhausts come in handy for removing stale air and the allergens that lurk within.
While ceiling fans and portable fans offer effective circulation, your HVAC system is capable of doing much more. The whole point of your central HVAC system is to circulate conditioned air throughout your entire home. To take advantage of the airflow your HVAC system offers, simply leave it on "FAN" mode throughout the day.
If your HVAC system comes with a variable-speed blower motor, you can leave the fan running on its lowest possible speed. Having a modern variable-speed motor in your HVAC unit not only guarantees constant air circulation, but it also reduces the unit's energy consumption and noise.
Fresh Air Filters Are Essential
As your HVAC system circulates air throughout your home, it's also using its air filter to trap mold, mildew, and a host of other airborne particles that cause allergies. Once your air filter gets clogged with trapped debris, your HVAC system's performance will suffer along with your sinuses.
Chances are your filter has seen its fair share of action over the past few months. If you haven't replaced your air filters yet, now's the time to do just that. Most experts recommend a fresh air filter at least once every season. If you have pets in the home or you're really anxious to clean up your indoor air, you'll benefit by changing your air filters on a monthly basis.
It's not enough just to replace your air filter on a regular basis. Most HVAC systems come equipped with fiberglass air filters that offer basic protection against dust and debris, but not enough to combat dust mites, pollen and other airborne pollutants. A pleated air filter rated between MERV 7 and MERV 13 is far more effective at removing these and other allergens from indoor air.
UV Lamps Are Optional
If you're looking for another way to use your HVAC system to fight allergies, a set of ultraviolet (UV) germicidal lamps may help. Designed to emit UV-C light, UV lamps are capable of disrupting a broad range of microorganisms at the cellular level. Exposure to UV-C light causes changes within certain microorganisms, robbing them of their ability to effectively survive and reproduce.
UV lamps are capable of destroying virus and bacteria particles, along with mold, mildew, and most other microbes. Thanks to their effectiveness at keeping organisms at bay, UV lamps can also help keep certain parts of your HVAC system clean.
One major downside of UV-C radiation is that it needs a significant amount of contact before it's able to fully deactivate airborne allergens. It takes an average of 10 seconds to deactivate bacteria on a surface that's approximately six inches from the lamp. Some UV germicidal lamp kits feature higher-powered bulbs to mitigate this issue.
To learn more about how HVAC services can help you, contact a company like Centrum Solutions.