With spring right around the corner, you may have already noticed the usual irritations that come this time of year. Sneezing, lethargy, and itchy eyes are all signs that Floridians should be prepared for the wave of allergies that come with warmer weather.
But are you aware of how allergens interact with your air conditioning? In some ways, what is usually your summer saving grace can be working against you when it comes to seasonal allergies.
What Are Allergens?
An allergen is any substance that can cause an allergic reaction in a specific person who is reactive to it. There are many common allergens, but some can be very specific and niche. Many, if not most, allergens can be found in our very own homes. Common indoor allergens found in homes are:
- Dust or dust mites
- Pet dander
- Mold spores
These are only a small number of allergens that can make their way into your home and settle into your furniture, clothes, and even your HVAC system’s ducts and filters.They are carried up into your air conditioning system and recirculated into and throughout different rooms, turning your entire home into a giant allergy test.
The biggest culprits of seasonal allergies traveling through your HVAC system is pollen. Pollen can be carried into your home on your clothing or introduced through open windows during high pollen count seasons.
Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
There are many different symptoms that come along with seasonal allergies. If your spring and summer months are plagued with clogged noses, sneezing, and watery eyes, chances are you’ve got allergies.
Allergens can also trigger itchy eyes, sore throats, coughing, and rashes. In extreme cases, susceptible people can experience asthma flare ups, wheezing, or hives. Certain parts of your face may also swell, particularly around the eyes.
If you have an allergen problem in your home, all of these symptoms can become worse simply by having your air conditioning or heater on. Pay attention to if you’re sneezing more when your A/C is on or if your symptoms go away when you’ve spent time away from home. These are signs that you may need to give your HVAC system a thorough cleaning and replace your air filters.
How Seasonal Allergies Interact With Your Air Conditioning
It can be hard to believe that the system you’re so dependent on during the warmer months of the year could be the enemy when it comes to your allergies. After all, in Central Florida, the temperature outside starts to rise at the same time the pollen count does.
Considering how closely tied your HVAC system is to your air quality, it isn’t too difficult to understand how allergens such as dust and pet dander can be circulated through your home again and again. Air passes through your air conditioner somewhere between five and seven times a day. That’s a lot of time for different air pollutants and particulates to make their way from one room to another.
On the other side of the battle, your HVAC system does have certain defenses that work to try and keep seasonal allergies to a minimum. Air filters are your first and best line of defense against allergens, bacteria, and other pollutants. They come in a variety of types and styles, but most HVAC systems have a preferred filter standard that you should commit to.
Bearing that in mind, the fight against seasonal allergies isn’t hopeless. In fact, your air conditioner can be more of a friend than a foe if you take the right steps to keep allergies out of your system and away from your breathing air.
How To Keep Allergies Away with Air Conditioning
Your home appliances can only perform efficiently if you set them up to. For example, leaving your refrigerator door open isn’t going to keep your food at the temperature it needs to be.
The same goes for your HVAC system. There are certain maintenance chores that either you or a professional should perform in order to keep your system in good shape and keep allergies to a minimum.
Here are some key tasks to perform so that your home can stay allergen-free:
Change Your Filter.
A good air filter will remove dust, dander, pollen, tobacco, bacteria, and so many other pollutants that you could breathe in out of your air. In fact, certain ones, like HEPA filters, can dramatically improve your air quality by removing 99.97% of air particulates.
The frequency in which you should change your filter depends on the type of filter you have and how many allergens are actually making their way through your system. Some filters are good for most of the year, while others need to be regularly changed every few months.
Research which filter is best for your HVAC system or talk to an expert to learn what their professional opinion is.
Clean Your Ducts.
Larger air pollutants, like dust and mold spores, build up in your HVAC’s ductwork system over time. This can keep allergens circulating in your air, as well as limit air flow through your system.
An experienced technician will be able to clean out all of the build up efficiently. From vacuums to Rotobrush Systems, a professional will be able to agitate and remove all the dirt and debris before sanitizing and deodorizing your duct system.
Your ducts should be cleaned out at least every three years in order to keep your HVAC system healthy and prevent allergens from building up too much.
Keep Your Unit Clean.
Don’t forget that some seasonal allergies come from outdoors. Check your outdoor unit for any overgrown vegetation, dirt, or debris. The unit can pull allergens from these hazards and circulate them into your home.
Take the time to remove any obstacles or grass and clean dirt off of your unit. Some units may already have a substantial amount of build up on them, in which case you’ll want to contact a professional to clear it out without damaging the unit or other important equipment.
Florida residents are no stranger to humidity and the obstacles it can impose. Unfortunately, it can be a contributor to seasonal allergies too. Although humidity itself isn’t an allergen, the excess moisture can create the perfect conditions for allergens to take hold and thrive.
Mold can develop and release spores into your system, while also making it easier for other air pollutants to move through the air as well.
Humidity can also create a prime environment for illnesses to take hold in you. Some of these ailments can have similar symptoms to seasonal allergies or worse.
To keep humidity to a minimum, repair leaky or damaged drain pans and tend to clogged condensation drain lines. Doing so will keep moisture from circulating through your air conditioner.
Contact Ocean Air Conditioning for HVAC Maintenance
Air conditioning maintenance and upkeep can make all the difference in the world when it comes to battling seasonal allergies. Plan ahead of allergy season and have a professional tend to your HVAC system before pollen becomes more prevalent and harder to keep at bay. When the number of allergens in the air spike, your air conditioning system will be ready to hold it off for you.
Reach out to our expert technicians to learn more about how you can care for and improve your system today!