Your HVAC Can Help Reduce Allergens

indoor air quality

Many homeowners think of things like replacing the filter in their HVAC system to reduce the spread of allergens throughout the home, but there are actually several different ways that the HVAC system can be used to reduce asthma and allergy symptoms.

Certainly the filter is the first line of defense against indoor air pollutants so it’s important to replace it regularly and buy a quality filter.  The professionals at Diamond Heating and Cooling can recommend one based on your specific situation, but in general it’s recommended to look for one with a higher MERV rating.  This rating will range from 1-20 with a higher number indicating a higher level of filtration.  It’s also important to choose a high-efficiency filter that is designed to help reduce allergens.  Most high-efficiency filters are rated from 14-16, and are designed to remove small particles from the air. The highest rated filters are HEPA filters which are rated from 17-20 however you’ll want to check with an HVAC technician though before installing a HEPA filter as they are only intended to be used on HVAC systems that can handle the additional stress that this type of filter will put on it.

Looking to do more than just change the filter?  There are some accessory items that can be added to your HVAC system to further improve the indoor air quality.  The most common first addition is an air purifier.  A whole-home air purifier is highly recommended for anyone dealing with severe allergies or asthma.  It is designed to improve the air in the entire home through purification and the use of a HEPA filter.

The next biggest cause of allergy symptoms is changes in humidity levels.  Maintaining the ideal humidity level inside your home is often the next step that allergy and asthma suffers will take.  A whole-home dehumidifier/humidifier can be added to your HVAC system to help achieve that ideal humidity level.  The final, and most expensive, option is the addition of UV lamps.  A UV lamp can be used with your HVAC system to help you go beyond just trapping allergens to actually killing bacteria, mold and other allergy triggers.

One final recommendation is to stay on top of regular HVAC maintenance visits.  Having a technician thoroughly clean your HVAC system, as well as the ductwork, is the absolute best way to stay ahead of allergens.  It’s generally recommended to have this done annually, and spring is usually the ideal time.

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Reduce Pollutants to Breathe Better

Pollutants

There are some air pollutants that can’t be filtered out with a furnace filter or media air cleaner. These pollutants can cause health issues, and are found in many common items in homes. Keep reading to learn what they are and how to reduce their presence in the home.

  1. Benzene

This common solvent can irritate skin and eyes, cause respiratory issues, and more. It is found in paints, oils, plastics and rubber. It can be emitted by furniture or other items in the house, increasing the occupants’ exposure.

  1. Trichloroethylene

This is used in printing inks, paints, spot removers, cleaning fluid for rugs, varnishes, and adhesives. It has been identified as a potential carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute.

  1. Formaldehyde

Most people associate this with dissecting frogs in high school science class, but it is found in many household products. Some of these are paper towels, cleaning products, carpet backing, and much more. It can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, and allergic contact dermatitis.

Some of these pollutants are commonly found in furniture because of how it is manufactured. To reduce its presence, check certifications, air out new furniture, and consider buying used furniture when possible.

To reduce these pollutants throughout the entire house, consider implementing more plants into the home. While it seems like such a simple solution, there are many types of plants that absorb these pollutants and clean the air around them. Plants like the spider plant, peace lily, English ivy, and many more are especially beneficial. These are all-natural air cleaners that can help everyone breathe better and worry less.

For help eliminating other indoor air pollutants like dust and pollen, contact Diamond Heating and Cooling. We offer allergy and asthma solutions that can help keep air cleaner, reducing allergy or asthma attacks for many people.

Plants That Clean Air and Brighten the Home

Indoor Air Quality

While everything outside is turning brown and losing leaves, bring in some new, vibrant plants to brighten your home. Green plants not only create a cheerier atmosphere, but can improve the indoor air quality as well. Since some plants are better at cleaning and scrubbing the air than others, here’s a list of some the best plants for improving the air in your home:

  1. Aloe Vera

This plant is beneficial in a variety of ways. It removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air, absorbs carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen, and can be used to treat burns and other ailments. As a succulent, it shouldn’t be overwatered and needs sunlight, but is hardy and can be placed in any room of the house.

  1. Peace Lily

Want some flowers with the greenery? The Peace Lily can provides beautiful white flowers. It also removes many chemical vapors like acetone, ammonia, and xylene. In addition to removing toxins, the Peace Lily also helps raise indoor humidity levels. It is a great houseplant for beginners to start with and requires little sunlight.

  1. Rubber Plant

Rubber plants can grow to be eight feet tall in some cases, but that isn’t what makes them special. They are known for removing formaldehyde from the air. Bright, indirect light and regular watering can help this plant reach its true height potential.

  1. Snake Plant

Another good plant for beginners, the snake plant removes formaldehyde, smog, and trichloroethylene from the air along with taking in carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen.

  1. Weeping Fig

Looking for a more exotic plant variety? Check out the tropical Weeping Fig. It can remove formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the indoor air while bringing a unique look to the home. Keep it in semi to full sun and water it regularly.

Plants can clean the air and bring a little greenery inside while everything outside is turning shades of brown for fall and winter. If plants aren’t improving IAQ enough, talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about other products that can help.

3 Common Allergens to Worry About

Allergens

People worry about the outside air they breathe, but actually their main focus should be the air inside their home. With indoor air carrying 2 to 5 times more pollutants than outdoor air, poor indoor air quality is a concerning problem that should be addressed.

There are many allergens floating around both inside and outside, but some can be more troubling than others. Here are three of the most common allergens found in homes, and how to get rid of them:

  1. Dust Mites

Dust mites feed on human skin flakes and thrive in rooms with 40% humidity and above, and temperatures around 70 degrees. While they are commonly found in the bedroom, they can thrive anywhere in the house if it matches these conditions.

To eliminate as many dust mites as possible, wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and bed covers in hot water. The water should be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the dust mites. Use dust-proof covers on mattresses, box springs, and pillows to prevent their return.

  1. Mold

Mold loves wet, dark places in homes. The easiest way to keep mold spores from entering the air is to eliminate their chance of growing. Keep a fan on in the bathroom during and after showers, fix leaky appliances and faucets immediately, and use a dehumidifier when necessary.

If mold is found, call someone right away to get it looked at. Some mold can be toxic, causing even more serious health problems than an asthma attack or allergy flare-up.

  1. Pollen

While pollen has a huge impact outdoors, it can also have an impact indoors. Pollen can travel inside by clinging to clothing and shoes. Wiping down pets, keeping the windows closed, and using a media air cleaner can combat the issue of pollen inside the home.

Those with allergies or asthma shouldn’t have to suffer inside too. Take precautions to eliminate these three common indoor allergens and make breathing a little easier. Talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about what they can do to help improve indoor air quality.

 

Learning About MERV Ratings

To get the most out of your HVAC system, everyone says to look at MERV ratings. What exactly is MERV and why does it matter? Here’s the rundown:

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s essentially measuring the effectiveness of the air filter in question. A filter can have a MERV rating ranging from 1 to 16. The higher the rating, the fewer dust particles and other contaminants can pass through it.

When filters are tested for a MERV rating, they use common particles like pollen, dust mites, carpet fibers, mold spores, pet dander, and more. Most residential systems can remove airborne contaminants like those listed above with a filter that has a MERV rating of 7-12. Filters with a rating of 13-16 are generally used in hospital-type settings.

The higher the MERV rating, the less particles that can get through the filter. This means the most efficient filter must have the highest rating, right? Not exactly. Filters with higher MERV ratings have smaller pores, which lets less air through. It can create resistance in airflow that the HVAC system can’t handle. The system will then have to work harder to pump air through the filter, lowering the efficiency and increasing the energy bill.

Every HVAC system is different. Find out what MERV rating the system can handle and still allow for maximum airflow. This will help homeowners get the most out of the HVAC system and get the cleanest air possible.

It’s also worth noting that filters with higher MERV ratings need to be changed more frequently than those with lower ratings. Because these filters are catching more contaminants, they are more likely to get clogged and restrict the airflow. Be sure to check the filters frequently and change them often for the best results.

Not sure which filter is best? Talk to the technicians at Diamond Heating and Cooling when they come out for an annual HVAC check-up. They’re happy to help and educate their customers.

Relieving AC-Caused Sinus Congestion

AC Sinus

The weather in Boise and the surrounding areas is heating up. For those who haven’t turned on the air conditioner yet, the 90+ degree weather this weekend might push that button. The cool air from the air conditioner is a sweet relief, but it can also wreak havoc on the sinuses for some people.

The first week the air conditioner is running, it might trigger runny noses or congestion. It is a common and natural reaction to the cold, dry air in the home. The cool air can trigger nervous system reflexes in the nose. These glands begin to produce mucus, causing either a runny or stuffed up nose.

The congestion should only be brief while the body is adjusting to the new temperature and humidity of the air-conditioned house. However, those who suffer from allergies might have a harder time adjusting.

If the air conditioner filter is clogged with pollen, mold spores, and other allergens, they could be getting released into the air and irritating the sinuses even further. Therefore, it is extremely important to check and replace the filter a minimum of every three months.

If the sinus congestion becomes too much too handle, try these tips:

  • Salt Water

Flushing out the nose and sinuses with lukewarm salt water can decrease sinus infections, or relieve symptoms related to the air conditioner. This can be done with a nasal spray, irrigation kit, or a neti pot.

  • Humidifier

Since the sinuses are reacting to the dry air, investing in a humidifier can help. The humidifier creates moisture in the room that can relieve sinus congestion. Humidity in the home should be kept between 30 and 50 percent for comfort.

  • Drink Water

While it sounds so simple, water is key to sinus health. To keep mucus flowing smoothly, drink enough water. During warmer days, people usually need more water than normal to stay hydrated.

When the filter on air conditioner is clean, it can reduce sinus issues and allergies. However, the temporary runny nose and congestion that comes from turning the AC on might be unavoidable. Just keep some tissues nearby for the time being and try the tips outlined above.

For any air conditioner or indoor air quality issues this summer, call the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling.

Debunking IAQ Myths

Indoor Air Quality is something everyone should consider. Breathing in air full of debris, dust, and allergens, as well as dangerous pollutants is dangerous to a person’s health, and more so for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues.

Not everything circulating online about indoor air quality is true, and wading through the myths can be difficult. We’ve outlined some of the more common myths related to indoor air quality, and what is actually true.

1. Indoor air is better than outdoor air

According to the EPA, indoor air is often 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Houses are sealed so tightly that there is less air exchange, keeping pollutants inside and circulating them throughout the house.

2. Air filters are for improving IAQ

The primary function of air filters is not to increase the quality of the indoor air but to protect the HVAC system. However, cleaner air is a byproduct of their filtration if the filter is properly sized, correctly installed, and replaced regularly. The higher the MERV rating of the filter, the better it is at filtering out debris and pollutants.

3. Noxious gases are noticeable

Many noxious gases are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making them even more dangerous. Monitoring devices need to be in place to catch leaks such as carbon monoxide. This highly toxic gas can cause major health problems, and fires if a leak occurs.

Diamond Heating and Cooling doesn’t just care about air temperature; they care about air quality. That’s why they found a product to help allergy and asthma sufferers, and improve indoor air quality all around. It is called the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner. It’s an electronic polarized media air cleaner that can filter out sub-micronic allergens that normal filters cannot remove.

Visit Diamond Heating and Cooling’s website to learn more about the Micro Power Guard Air Cleaner and read testimonies from local Boise customers.