March 20 is the first day of spring, which means Old Man Winter will soon depart. The days slowly get longer and warmer. And we start to see those tiny bright green sprigs of brand new grass, fresh buds on the trees, and colorful flowers popping out their heads after a long, cold winter.
But there’s a side of Spring that’s tough for millions of Americans – allergies. With all the sneezing, sniffling, and itchy eyes, we load up with antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops, and headache remedies to fight the dreadful symptoms, sometimes to no avail.
When it comes to allergies, most people consider their home a safe haven, where they can escape the atrocious effects of allergies. Unfortunately, our homes and apartments harbor all sorts of indoor allergens – with many causing year-round suffering. Regardless of how well we clean, pet dander, dust mites, mold, mildew, and more contribute to poor indoor air quality and trigger bothersome allergy symptoms for so many people. Asthma sufferers, as well as young children and the elderly, tend to be even more susceptible.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an allergic reaction happens when your body’s natural defense system — the immune system — releases antibodies as it tries to fight off a substance it thinks is harmful. Those antibodies are responsible for allergy symptoms like swollen, itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; runny noses; and even skin rashes. For some people, a sensitive immune system might mistake harmless things, like pet dander or mold, as evil invaders. Others who are exposed continuously over long periods of time may even develop chronic issues like asthma.
However, there’s no need to fret. There are several simple steps you can take to reduce allergens in your home.
Reduce pet dander. Dander can be a tough challenge for pet owners. It can cling to furniture, clothes, walls, and just about any household surface. It can even make its way into your home’s air ducts, where it can then circulate throughout your home. Entirely eliminating pet dander from your home might seem like an impossible task, but regularly cleaning your furniture, carpets, and window coverings can be very effective. Steam cleaning will remove dust and dander both on the surface and deep down. Simply de-cluttering your indoor space will give dander fewer places to hide. So if you can live with fewer knick-knacks, you’ll not only have fewer things to dust and clean, you’ll also reduce dander in your home. And finally, regularly bathing your furry friend will send excess dander down the drain, instead of into your home’s air.
Prevent mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can lurk all around your home. To help combat it, ensure your home has sufficient ventilation, use mold inhibitors in your paints, and clean your bathroom and kitchen with mold-busting products. Also, running your air conditioning and using dehumidifiers and air purifiers will help eliminate mold, bacteria, and viruses that thrive in warm, moist conditions.
Get serious about air system filtration. Change air filters every month to ensure your family is breathing clean, fresh, healthy air. Air filters can trap pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. They work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps those harmful particles. While they cost more, use HEPA filters if possible – they’re designed to be even better at catching the tiniest particles of dust, dander, and more.
Schedule air duct cleaning. Just as the surfaces in your home become dirty over time, so can your air ducts. Through everyday life, our homes generate all sorts of contaminants and air pollutants like pet dander, dust, mold, and chemicals. All of those contaminants are pulled into your home’s HVAC system and recirculated an average of five to seven times per day. Dirty air ducts can contribute to health issues, especially for those with respiratory conditions, auto-immune disorders, or asthma and allergies. Just like those outdoor seasonal allergens, indoor air pollutants can lead to irritated eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
Having your air ducts properly cleaned can greatly improve your indoor air quality and reduce health problems.
When you’re ready to hire a contractor to have your air ducts cleaned, NADCA makes it really simple for homeowners to find the best-of-the-best professionals when it comes to HVAC system cleaning! All it takes is a search of your zip code or region in our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area. NADCA members have technicians on staff with advanced training and certification in HVAC system cleaning.
Trust NADCA members to get the job done right!