I had a friend in high school who was always cracking jokes about his height and how he was almost too tall. He’d laughingly complain about how the basketball coach kept bugging him to come out for the team, or how his mom constantly wanted him to get stuff from the top shelf in her pantry. I always laughed along, teasing him about his “problems.”
Recently, I found myself in Rescue, CA, thinking again about the idea of good things that still create some irritations in our lives. Rescue’s home to the Pine Hill Ecological Reserve where you can find eight rare species of plants that exist there and nowhere else, plus 10 percent of the flora native to California. A homeowner had given us a call about the air quality in his home. Spring is coming and he was rightly worried the stunningly diverse plants nearby would agitate his allergies.
Basically, he was too close to too much amazing vegetation. So I gave him some spring allergy HVAC tips to keep irritants at bay; tips I recommend for anyone who lives so perilously close to such luscious greenery.
Tip #1 – Focus on Filters, a Rescue Resident’s Best Friend
In places with thick vegetation like Rescue, focusing on your HVAC system’s filter will protect your sinuses from exotic pollens. See, normally your AC unit’s filter is designed to keep dust and other debris from getting inside your system and wrecking havoc. They keep your air cleaner than usual, but they aren’t as effective as they could be when it comes to stopping microscopic particles during allergy season.
One way to determine if you have the best filter for your family’s needs is to reference its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. There are four MERV ratings to know:
- MERV 6: This filter catches between 20 and 69 percent of large contaminants like lint, dust, and pollen. This is the most basic filter.
- MERV 8: This standard-sized filter is the most common, and it captures about 85 percent of large particles, as well as 50 percent of smaller ones.
- MERV 11: Now we’re getting into some superior filters as this one removes more than 90 percent of large particles and between 70 and 90 percent of smaller ones. This is an ideal choice for areas heavy on plant life.
- MERV 13: Capable of filtering more than 95 percent of large particles and 80 percent of smaller ones, this is the highest-rated filter for a home AC unit. I generally recommend it for households where a member suffers from a sickness requiring a sterile environment.
Also, remember HVAC professionals can help you find the ideal fit for your home. Many companies also offer plans where a technician comes to change your filter on a regularly scheduled basis, an absolute must when trying to keep your head clear and free of allergies.
Tip #2 – Ducts, the Pathway to Allergy Protection
The ducts in your house are a pathway connecting cool air from your AC to your home—and your lungs and sinuses. With that in mind, one of the best ways to guard against allergies is to make sure your ducts are sealed, protected, and clean. In most cities, I’d say this is because of dust,but in Rescue, where all that gorgeous plant life means one bush or another is always in bloom, homeowners need to be even more diligent that ducts don’t pull in exterior allergens.
Leaks are the cause behind most duct pollution, particularly true for the ones running through attics or basements. They get punctured due to animal activity, debris in the system, or just basic wear and tear and, when they do, dust and allergens start getting pulled in with the air flow, then pushed back out into the rooms where you and your family live and breathe. This is especially problematic in plant-laden Rescue. Getting a professional HVAC technician to check your system for holes or other leaks can help guard against seasonal springtime allergies related to the city’s flora.
Tip #3 – One Word: Windows
Windows are an underrated line of defense against pollen and mold spores, especially in Rescue where a strong gust brings dozens of different particles from diverse plants swirling around and into homes.
Newer windows often have better seals. And, installing double or triple pane windows will put an extra layer between your nose and particles that could irritate it. Over time, even older deluxe windows have deteriorating seals that allow air from the outside to make its way in, so new windows are necessary to turn a house into an anti-allergen fortress.
While it’s fun to make jokes about how owning a home near beautiful vegetation is a “problem,” the truth is that springtime allergies can be painful for our customers who suffer from them year after year. In our area, temperatures begin to soar in the spring, and chances are most homeowners will turn to their AC for relief. The last thing you want is for the HVAC system to irritate your allergies instead of offer comfort from the heat.
Take measures now to start guarding your eyes, ears, throat, and nose. A professional HVAC technician can tell you what filter you should invest in and set you up with a regular maintenance plan for swapping out pollen-infested ones with new filters ready to ward off floating irritants. They can also check ducts for leaks, and help patch any holes they find. And remember that an investment in windows may also be well worth it if you live in a place like Rescue where outdoor air is heavy on pollutants. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Take action now to protect your air this spring. Trust me, your sinuses will thank you.
Don’t let your HVAC unit exacerbate springtime allergy symptoms. Contact the professionals at Bell Brothers today to protect the air quality in your home.