Spring is Coming to NC
The results are in. Contrary to the position taken by veteran groundhog meteorologist Punxatawney Phil, the triangle’s own Sir Walter Wally has declared that Chapel Hill and Durham residents can expect an early end to winter this year. No matter which clairvoyant rodent you believe, the change of seasons is almost upon us.
Keeping Irritating Airborne Allergens Out of Your Home
While most of us look forward to the brilliant hues of nature’s bounty, some of us are decidedly less enthusiastic for one reason in particular. Along with the budding flora comes the blitzkrieg of pollen and other airborne allergens, leaving many of us in the triangle fraught with runny noses and itchy eyeballs.
Although the pesky yellow stuff you see accumulating everywhere looks gross, this kind of pollen is not actually the culprit behind your misery. Your spring allergy symptoms are usually caused by even tinier particles you can’t see. Other major offenders are animal dander, dust mites, and mold. The following are some helpful hints for keeping your home’s air quality at its best for the upcoming season.
Cleaning, Maintenance, and HVAC Tips for Better Air Quality
Unfortunately, there is no set it and forget it solution. It’s kind of like getting in shape. Adhering to a regimen is the key component.
- Vacuum at least once a week. Not only will this cut down on dust and allergens, but you’ll score some major points with your spouse as well!
- Clean from the top down. When you wipe off a ceiling fan or a blind or a top of a door frame, you are not going to catch every bit of dust. Some of it is just going to get knocked off and fall onto areas below.
- Put your thermostat fan in the “on” position while vacuuming. A good vacuum will trap the vast majority of the dust it agitates from the ground, but some dust will inevitably be dispersed into the air. Turning your fan on can help suck some of that dust into your home’s air filter before it has a chance to settle. Leave it on for a while to give it a chance to work, then set it back to auto.
- Replace your air filters once a month. An average person in normal circumstances can certainly get away with replacing them a little less often, but during allergy season it can be worth it.
- Change your bedding often. Once a week is advisable. Wash them in hot water, at least 130F, to kill dust mites and eggs.
- Get dust mite proof covers for your pillows, mattresses, and box springs. You can’t put your mattress in the washing machine, so it’s best to keep mites out in the first place.
- Replace heavy curtains with washable ones. Your curtains are a magnet for dust and allergens. Vacuuming them can leave a lot behind. Getting curtains that you can safely put in the washing machine will cut down on dust and save you time.
- Take your shoes off when you come in the house. Not only will you track less dust and allergens through your house, but you’ll also prolong the life of your carpet.
- Make your bedroom a pet free zone. Your furry friend may be an ideal snuggling partner, but if you are allergic to pet dander, it is a good idea to keep this one area pet free.
- Keep outside entryways clean. Your front walkway is the last stop before entering your house. Keeping that area clean will prevent more dust and allergens from being tracked inside.
- Close your windows. This is fairly obvious if the allergens afflicting you originate outdoors. If your indoor cat is the culprit, it’s a different story. Your HVAC system will filter your air-conditioned air before it enters your house. A pleasant cross breeze doesn’t have a filter.
- Clean your window frames and sills. These areas are prone to gather condensation. Moisture can lead to mold. Mold is bad.
- Clear debris from outdoor AC units. Your outdoor unit pulls in air from the outside. If there are leaves, grass clippings, dust, or other debris nearby, those unwanted particles can get pulled in too.
- Don’t forget to dust your registers and return vents. Everyone remembers to change the filters (sometimes), but your vents gather a lot of dust too.
- Don’t overwater your house plants. Damp soil grows mold. You could always get a cactus instead.
- Don’t let your dishes pile up. Food debris can attract roaches and moisture can lead to mold.
- Empty your garbage daily. Consider a garbage can with an insect proof lid, and regularly clean the area around your garbage can. A lot of crumbs can accumulate in this area, and crumbs attract cockroaches and rodents.
- Store food in sealed containers. Not only will this help keep critters away, it’ll stay fresh longer.
- Check under sink for leaks. Small leaks that aren’t immediately noticeable can lead to mold.
- Get rid of old food in your refrigerator. Old food is a breeding ground for mold. The rubber seals around the door are also a place where moisture and mold tend to exist.
- Remove clutter. Anything that sits around will gather dust, but there are a lot of things in your house you probably don’t vacuum, like books, kids toys, and decorations.
- Use a shower squeegee. Drying your shower or bath after each use will cut down on mold growth. It also reduces water spots for a clean sparkly appearance.
- Get a de-humidifier. Mold thrives in moisture. While super dry air may curb mold growth, it can also irritate your respiratory system. An ideal humidity range is from 30% to 50%. Hygrometers are cheap if you want to go get one.
- Don’t smoke in the house. Or anywhere, for that matter.
- Get regular pest control service. Even though keeping your house will give bugs less incentive to come inside, you don’t have to be a slob to get cockroaches in your house. Call your local exterminator and get an extra layer of protection.
- Use unscented cleaners and detergent. Heavy fragrances can aggravate symptoms in those with allergies.
- Make sure your clothes are completely dry before putting them away. Putting slightly damp clothes in your drawers or closets can encourage mold growth.
- Replace your mattress every ten years, and your pillows every five. Even with the strictest laundering schedule, over time these things will still accumulate dust mites and other nasty stuff you don’t want to think about.
- Put your clothes in the laundry immediately after coming in from outside. Don’t throw them on the floor or in a pile somewhere.
- Run the fan when showering. Reducing moisture whenever possible will reduce mold.
- Wash your “display” towels. You know the fancy ones in the guest bathroom you are not supposed to use? You may not know what they are for, but they can accumulate dust and mold just sitting there.
- Don’t eat on the couch. Eating and watching TV may be one of life’s finer pleasures, but crumbs are inevitable. Your crumbs are filet mignon for roaches.
- Avoid plug-in air fresheners. These can emit VOC’s that can aggravate your respiratory system.
- Use a nylon shower curtain. Vinyl shower curtains can also emit VOC’s.
- Avoid upholstered furniture. Other less porous materials like leather don’t hang on to allergens as well. If going out and buying all new furniture is a bit extreme, just try to vacuum them once a week.
- Upgrade your vacuum. Make sure you get one with a HEPA filter. You can even look for a vacuum that is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
- Use a microfiber dusting wand. These trap more particles than regular dusters.
- Repair water damage. No matter where water damage and mold exists in your house, your HVAC system can circulate it all throughout the house.
- Use non allergenic plants in your landscaping. You can’t stop pollen from traveling across the street in the wind, but you might as well not create a pollen factory right outside your house.
- Schedule a pre-season HVAC tune up. Keeping your HVAC system in tip top shape will help keep your air quality at its best as well. It can also help to prolong the life if your system and prevent costly repairs.
Contact Your Durham and Chapel Hill Area HVAC Specialist Today
At Your All Weather Heating and Cooling, our goal is to keep you comfortable all year. Give us a call today at 919-967-9775 for any of your HVAC repair, installation, or maintenance needs or fill out the form below.