According to the Mayo Clinic, “An allergy starts when your immune system mistakes a normally harmless substance for a dangerous invader. The immune system then produces antibodies that remain on the alert for that particular allergen. When you’re exposed to the allergen again, these antibodies can release a number of immune system chemicals, such as histamine, that cause allergy symptoms.”
Seasonal allergies come about when a person’s body is susceptible to those pesky allergens. Symptoms can range from the mildly annoying (an occasional sneeze or sniffle) to a full-blown attack. This might include itchy, watering eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, wheezing, sneezing, and a general “blah” feeling. Severe cases can also include anaphylaxis, a swelling and closing of the airway, which is life-threatening and requires urgent medical attention.
Now let’s turn our attention to the concept of indoor air quality and ways to improve indoor air quality. Even though every home has doors and windows to the outside world, the quality of air indoors and out is not necessarily the same. For most of us, this is not a big deal. However, for those who deal with any kind of respiratory issue, this can be a real problem. A basic, common sense question that household members can ask is: Is it easier to breathe indoors and what are other ways to improve indoor air quality?
The Oxford Dictionary defines air quality as “a measurement of the pollutants in the air; a description of healthiness and safety of the atmosphere.”
Indoor air quality is a function of particles (usually smaller than the naked eye can see) in the air, certain organic compounds, and various infectious agents that may be suspended in the household air. Most of the time, these things don’t even get noticed. When seasonal allergies are added to the mix, however, indoor air quality becomes important to those breathing this air.
It’s a fairly straightforward thing to minimize seasonal allergies at home. Logic says that keeping allergens out of home air in the first place, finding ways to improve indoor air quality and removing any allergens that do manage to get past the preventive measures is the most comprehensive approach to air purity.
No system, short of a house-in-a-vacuum- bubble, is going to be 100% effective against seasonal allergens. Finding ways to improve indoor air quality and making in-home air quality as good as it can be, however, goes a long way toward keeping the discomfort of seasonal allergies at bay. The above definition as it applies to airborne allergens, is what we can address through home air conditioning, air filtration, and heating systems.
With the exception of the vents, most of this part of the air circulation system is invisible. Clearing and keeping dust and allergens out of the ducts, if it’s needed, is a job for air system professionals. Because the air ducts attach to the air conditioning and/or heating system, it’s especially important that all of its components are kept clean. This includes the coils, the drainage pan, the fan, and filter medium. Someone who knows what he or she is doing and is trained to look at the entire system’s big picture needs to be the one doing the work.
If there is any doubt about when the air ducts were cleaned last, it might be a good idea to have them looked at. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends air duct cleaning if the presence of mold, vermin (yup, like rodents or insects), or clogging can be detected. Another basic, common sense thing to look for is if any particles are blowing out of the air vent when the system is running. If any of these conditions are present, air duct cleaning may be in order.
These are the easiest and simplest – but critical – components, of an air circulation system to control. In some cases, a homeowner can install new filters. But! Knowing when to change air filters, especially when dealing with seasonal allergies, is pretty much a matter of knowing the answers to four deceptively simple questions. What kind of filter does the air system have (Smooth surface? Pleated? Zig-zag?)? What is the budget for air filters? Does anyone in the household have allergies? Are there pets living in the house? Any one of these conditions affects the frequency of air filter changes.
Of course, if the air filter looks dirty, it needs changing. If any member of the household, though, has any kind of respiratory issue, filters may need changing more often. A pro from One Hour AC can help with that.
Air Conditioning Systems
As long as the system is the right size for the house, it should work for quite a while. Of course, that’s assuming that it’s new enough to work properly. The system needs to be cleaned periodically in order to make sure it’s running at optimal level and not adding to indoor air pollution. Ductless or in-window air conditioning units can provide that next step in ensuring optimal indoor air quality for the allergy sufferer. Talk to One Hour Air for recommendations on how to coordinate these air quality improvement components.
Air Filtration Units
Designed to keep indoor air clean and germ-free, air filtration units can work well in the short term. They can range from less than $100 to almost $1,000 per unit. In a rental situation, they are a good solution to a seasonal allergy problem. This is especially true when proper duct maintenance is in place.
In Charlotte, NC, the cold weather is usually over by March. Once the spring weather arrives, grass starts to grow, flowers bloom, and trees bud. The resulting pollen and mold can wreak havoc on a person’s respiratory system, day and night. Clean air conditioning and filtration systems will help improve indoor air quality. One Hour Heating & Air can help with either or both prevention and cure.
Optimal indoor air quality gives the best possible relief the entire time a person remains in that environment. Have one of our pros from One Hour Heating and Air do a free indoor air quality assessment. Give us today.