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How to Use Your HVAC System to Fight Springtime Allergies

Spring can be a pretty miserable experience if you’re an allergy sufferer. Between the sneezing, sniffling, watery eyes, and scratchy throat, seasonal allergies triggered by pollen, grasses, and a host of other natural allergens can do a number on your physical well-being. Springtime allergens aren’t just limited to the great outdoors — indoor allergens like dust and pet dander can also trigger your allergies.

Your HVAC system can be a valuable ally in the fight against springtime allergies. In addition to regulating indoor temperatures, your heating and cooling equipment is also tasked with managing indoor air quality. Here’s how you can put your HVAC system to good use in fighting both indoor and outdoor allergens.

Upgrade to a High-Quality Air Filter

As your HVAC system draws air from inside your home, it’s also drawing allergens and other airborne pollutants. Your HVAC air filter serves as the first line of defense against these allergens. Unfortunately, most HVAC systems come equipped with fiberglass air filters that offer only rudimentary protection against dust and debris and little protection against smaller allergen particles.

Air filters made from pleated paper offer your HVAC system better protection against allergens. These filters trap a broad range of airborne particles that would pass through fiberglass filters. Upgrade to a pleated air filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) between 8 and 13, as these filters are most effective at reducing indoor allergens without adversely impacting HVAC performance.

Don’t forget to change your air filter at the proper intervals. You should change your air filter on a monthly basis to maintain the best possible indoor air quality for your home.

Run Your HVAC Fan for Circulation

Your HVAC system can only remove allergens from your home’s indoor air when the indoor blower fan is actively working. The blower fan plays an integral role in your HVAC system by pulling indoor air into the unit and pushing conditioned air out through the ductwork. More importantly, the blower fan also pulls air through the filter — giving your HVAC system an opportunity to remove dust, debris, and harmful allergens from indoor air.

You don’t have to use your heat or air conditioning just to benefit from HVAC fan circulation. All you have to do is toggle your HVAC system to “fan” mode on your thermostat. This setting essentially forces your blower fan to run constantly. The resulting air circulation can help remove harmful allergens from the indoor air, with slightly increased noise and energy use being the only noticeable drawbacks.

If you plan on upgrading your HVAC system in the near future, consider having a variable-speed blower fan motor installed. Variable-speed fans are capable of running at much lower speeds than a typical blower fan, allowing for quieter operation with less noise.

Keep Up With Preventative Maintenance

A well-maintained HVAC system is absolutely essential for keeping springtime allergies at bay. The only way to have a well-maintained HVAC system is to have it serviced on a regular basis. Regularly scheduled maintenance ensures that your HVAC system remains in peak condition throughout the year.

Preventative maintenance also gives your HVAC contractor a chance to spot and correct minor issues before they turn into major problems that require costly repairs. Most importantly, preventative maintenance also ensures that your HVAC system can effectively tackle both indoor and outdoor allergies, saving your senses plenty of grief throughout the spring and beyond.

Consider your HVAC system as a valuable secret weapon in the fight against springtime allergies. For more allergy prevention tips or to schedule HVAC services, contact our professional team at Reid’s AC & Heat today.

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How Does Cold Air Escape a Home?

As the weather warms up and springtime emerges, it’s time to start thinking about keeping your home cool. No matter how efficient your AC unit is, it can only be expected to handle an enclosed and insulated space.

As long as the air in your home has a different temperature than the air outside, it will attempt to equalize itself by escaping outside. One of the primary challenges of the HVAC industry is halting this transfer of heat and keeping your system running efficiently.

Checking Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are some of the weakest points of a building’s insulation. Thin panes of glass are perfect for letting in natural light, but a standard sheet offers relatively little resistance to heat transfer. Doors are a more obvious source of cold air loss as people enter and leave throughout the day, particularly if the doors have glass panes.

If you are ready for a renovation project, consider replacing your thin doors and windows with more economical insulated metal and glass. Newer doors, for example, typically feature a steel outer layer supported by dense foam insulation. For glass, especially on sliding doors or windows, extra panes and layers of insulating glaze will both slow down heat transfer.

Another area to check around doors and windows is their seal. A window’s seal is the material that holds glass within its frame and secures that frame to the wall. On a door, a seal prevents air from escaping while closed but still allows it to open. These seals may break down over time, so be sure to have them periodically inspected and replaced.

Blocking Sunlight

Remember that cold air doesn’t just leave a building; heat is also seeping in. One quick way to improve the insulation of your windows without replacing them is to install thick, reflective curtains and blinds. You don’t need to keep your windows covered all the time, but curtains will block and trap warm air between your room and the window when in use.

Repairing Leaky Ducts

To reach all of the rooms in your home, cold air must travel through a series of ducts. These ducts are designed to lose as little cold air as possible when the air is en route. But older ducts can deteriorate and fail just like any other part of your home. When leaks form, the air from your AC unit may not reach the far corners of your home, leaving certain rooms or the entire house warmer than it should be.

An HVAC technician can help you measure the temperature of air leaving your AC unit and then compare it to the air being distributed throughout the house. If discrepancies are noted, the faulty duct can be located and replaced, and your air circulation will hopefully return to normal.

Insulating Walls and Attics

In most cases, your attic is a likely culprit of letting cold air escape because hot air rises while cold air sinks, meaning attics tend to be too hot rather than too cold. Improving the insulation in your attic will, however, prevent an endless supply of warm air moving into your home to neutralize the cold air below. It may also save you quite a bit in heating bills next winter.

Sealing Basements and Crawlspaces

Cold air is much more likely to pool in low-lying areas, such as basements and crawl spaces, which is why basements, caves, and root cellars are consistently colder than the areas above them. If cold air can creep through your flooring, down stairs, or around the edges of interior doors, it may be cooling parts of your home that don’t see regular use.

Like with exterior doors and windows, sealing the cracks in your home is often the answer to the problem.

This summer, don’t let your home HVAC system shoulder the burden of cooling down the wider world. Keep your cold air indoors where it belongs, and enjoy your home without spending a small fortune on refrigerant and maintenance. Contact us at Reids AC & Heat to begin exploring your home’s heat efficiency and how you can invest in its improvement.