Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 by Amanda Waldmann
May is allergy and asthma awareness month, which, if you’ve been sneezing and coughing like I have these past few weeks, makes sense. Everything is starting to bloom, and with that comes the coughing, sneezing, and wheezing of allergies. There isn’t much I can help you with when it comes to outdoor allergies, but there are some things you can do inside your home to breathe a little deeper and feel a little better this summer.
When you do your spring cleaning, or even just weekly maintenance, work from high to low. Dust ceiling fans and window sills before vacuuming/mopping floors to efficiently and thoroughly get rid of dust.
Before reading any further, take a guess at how often you should change your HVAC filters.
It’s more often than you think.
If you live alone, have no pets, and don’t suffer from allergies - and you use a decent quality filter - you’re probably good if you change it every 6 months. But as you add occupants, pets, or allergies to the home, that frequency increases. If you live with a partner and/or kids and a pet or two, and any of you have allergies, you should be changing your filter as often as once a month.
A good way to figure out the ideal frequency for your home is to simply check on the filter each week until you can gauge how quickly it gets dirty. Not only is a clean filter necessary to keep the air in your home clean, but it can also decrease your energy usage (and save you some money - which you’ll then spend on more filters).
Specifically the insulation in your basement or crawl space. Gaps in the rim joist - the perimeter of where the basement walls meet the floor of the home - can allow water, dirt, debris, and any manner of critters inside. All of this affects the air quality in your home, since air is circulated up into the home via the HVAC system.
The fiberglass insulation commonly found throughout homes isn’t good to have below ground, as it actually harbors dirt and mold as it absorbs moisture in the air. Replacing fiberglass insulation with a waterproof and inorganic spray foam insulation will seal off gaps in the rim joist and won’t harbor mold, improving the air quality. Installing a dehumidifier and installing a waterproofing and/or encapsulation system will help prevent future mold issues from incoming water.
There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there on the usefulness of cleaning ducts. It doesn’t matter how clean your HVAC filter is if it’s circulating air up through dirty, dusty ductwork. While normal daily living might not be a cause to get your ducts cleaned (there are many conflicting opinions - you should decide for yourself), if you’ve had renovations or repairs done in your home, it’s smart to get them cleaned to remove dust and debris buildup. The same goes for if you have a rodent or insect infestation or there’s any suspicion of mold.
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