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Allergic to Dust? Make Your Home More Comfortable This Winter

HVAC Technician
Do you find yourself developing symptoms like sneezing, irritated eyes, and a dry throat in the winter months? If so, you may be allergic to dust. Because dust contains dust mites, pollen granules, and mold spores, dust allergies are common. They're most likely to bother you in the winter because this is when you spend the most time indoors where dust is prevalent.

In a perfect world, you would dust and vacuum once a week or so, and your dust allergies would go away. But in the average home, about 40 pounds of dust is created each year, accumulating faster than you clean it up. To protect yourself against dust allergies this winter, you need to take these extra steps to keep your air clean.

Put a Pleated Cotton or Electrostatic Filter in Your Furnace
If you are still using those $1 fiberglass filters from the hardware store, you should upgrade. Basic fiberglass filters trap the larger dust particles to prevent any serious debris accumulation in your furnace, but these filters don't do a great job of keeping your indoor air clean. Smaller particles like mold spores and pet dander can go right through them.

You have two good options when it comes to air filters for cleaner indoor air. An electrostatic filter uses static electricity to attract and hold onto even the smallest particles. However, this filter is a large device that your HVAC contractor needs to add to your system, and having one installed can cost several hundred dollars.

A less-expensive option is to simply purchase a pleated cotton filter rather than a low-end fiberglass filter. The pleated cotton material does a better job of trapping small particles because the pleats add surface area to the filter. These filters usually sell for around $15. In addition to changing the type of filter you use, make sure you also remember to change your filter every one to two months.

HEPA filters, which are the most efficient filters on the market, catch even more particles. However, most residential furnaces cannot accommodate HEPA filters because they cannot generate the necessary air pressure to push air through the tightly woven material.

Monitor Your Home's Humidity
The ideal relative humidity for indoor air is somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. If the humidity climbs much higher than this, you may get mold growth in your ducts and walls, which will only make your home dustier. If the humidity falls much below 40 percent, dust will stay suspended in the air too easily and you'll notice more symptoms. Dry air also irritates your respiratory tract, causing the allergens to bother you more.

An easy way to monitor your home's humidity is with a hygrometer. Many modern WiFi thermostats have one built in. If you consistently notice that your home's air is too dry, which is common in the winter, you may want to have a humidifier installed or run vaporizers in the rooms you spend most of your time in.

Vacuum Your Air Vents
You should have your ducts cleaned every few years to keep dust accumulation under control. Between duct cleaning appointments, you can keep things in check by vacuuming in and around each of your air vents and registers. Use the wand attachment to your vacuum, and make sure you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter so the dust does not get blown back into the air.

With the perfect humidity levels, clean vents and ducts, and the right furnace filter, your air will stay cleaner and your dust allergies should subside. If you are still experiencing trouble with your air quality, contact Action Plumbing & Heating Maintenance to learn more about our HVAC services.