Is Your HVAC The Cause Behind Your Nagging Allergy?
In certain houses, residents start sneezing as indoor heating or cooling is turned up, depending on the season. This may cause many to suspect that they are suffering from a seasonal allergy or that the artificial heating and cooling at home does not suit them.
Depending on the season, HVAC systems circulate air around your Bay Area house along with whatever is there in the air outside at that time. You cannot be allergic to your HVAC system as such, but you can most certainly suffer from allergies from the seasonal contaminants that exist in air and which get into your house through the HVAC system.
Different contaminants that may cause allergies
Pollen exists in air, especially in areas with a lot of vegetation. This can get into your house along with the air from doors and windows or even on your shoes and clothes. It can then settle into your furniture and upholstery, causing pollen allergies in the house. HVAC systems are usually able to filter pollen from the air.
- Pet hair
Many people have allergic reactions to dog and cat fur. This is a common cause of allergies in houses that have pets. Although HVAC system air filters do trap pet dander, too much of it can clog the filters.
- Dust mites
Dust mites are large particle, and thus, easily settle on surfaces or get kicked up into the air while dusting. These can cause allergies and make it seem like the HVAC is the problem.
If bacteria or viruses in the air get inside the HVAC system, they will enter the house along with the conditioned air. Centralized HVAC systems that get infiltrated with bacteria often cause the Sick Building Syndrome wherein many residents of the building complain of allergy symptoms, as they breathe the same infected air.
Some people suffer from allergies in wet climates. This is due to allergies caused by mold, a fungus that is born in humid weather. This could exist in your house due to humidity coming from water leaks.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Common household items like adhesives, printers, markers, paints, pesticides and cleaning agents emit ozone, formaldehyde, or other volatile organic compounds which can cause allergies.
Preventing HVAC related allergies
Avoiding HVAC related allergies is critical and begins with preventing the above contaminants from getting into your homes and being circulated around through the HVAC system.
Hence, regular cleaning and maintenance of air filters and ducts is crucial.
You can choose different types of air filters. Those with a high MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating are efficient, last longer and can trap even the smallest of particles in the air. Filters with a MERV rating of 10 or above are a prudent choice.
A HEPA (High Energy Particulate Air Filter) filter consists of densely packed glass fiber layers as opposed to paper and is highly efficient in trapping small particles like bacteria, pollen, and mold, blocking almost 99% of the contaminants that cause allergies.