These days, it seems like everyone suffers from seasonal allergies. What they may not realize, though, is that allergies and indoor air quality are closely related. If you want to tackle your seasonal allergies, you need to focus on both indoors and out, making sure that your indoor air quality isn’t contributing to your itchy eyes and runny nose.
Pet dander, which is the major source of pet allergies, is extremely small and sticky. Unlike the hair, which you can see, pet dander will attach itself to any surface, including walls, floors and ceilings. A good vacuuming can get rid of some of the dander on linens and furniture, but it can’t get rid of it on other surfaces. Because of the correlation between allergies and indoor air quality, the best way to handle pet dander is with an air purifier that has a filter rated to handle pet dander specifically.
When choosing air purifiers, you have two major choices: a whole-house model, which is best for homes with a forced air heating system, and portable single-room purifiers. Make sure that whatever system you choose, it has a HEPA-rated filter. If it doesn’t, it can’t remove fine particulates from the air, and both your allergies and indoor air quality will suffer. You’ll also want to make sure that your vacuum has a HEPA filter for getting dander out of carpet and other cloth surfaces.
You’ll also need to make sure that your air purifier is the right size for your home. Measure the square footage of your rooms, so you can be sure. If the air purifier is meant for smaller homes, it will work too hard and not be able to provide you with the allergy relief you need.
Dust allergies and indoor air quality are another that go together, but you might not be entirely aware of what dust is composed of. While common household dust is mostly skin cells and fabric fibers like carpet, it can also be contaminated with dust mite excrement, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, and other unwelcome visitors. Usually, a dust allergy isn’t actually an allergy to dust. It’s an allergy to dust mites, which is best treated by going to the source.
While most people think of mold and mildew in relation to humidity, you’ll want to make sure you keep the humidity in your home below 55 percent in order to keep dust mites under control. Your Chicagoland home may need a dehumidifier to do this. Like an air purifier, you’ll want to make sure that you get a dehumidifier that’s the right size for the area you’re trying to keep controlled. Make sure to empty it regularly so it runs continuously. You’ll also want to make sure to seal any water leaks and keep the HVAC system well maintained.
As with pet dander, you’ll want to vacuum regularly to get rid of any dust in carpeted surfaces. You may also find that you get some relief using an air purifier with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Keeping a clean house can also help, but remember: dust in your home doesn’t necessarily mean you keep a dirty house. There are many reasons for dust mites.
Mold and Mildew
Many of the solutions for dust also work for mold and mildew. For example, you’ll want to make sure that you keep all of your appliances well maintained, keep the humidity down, fix any plumbing leaks, and use an air purifier. Moldy and mildewed areas can also be cleaned with a 1-to-10 bleach/water solution. However, if you’re having trouble keeping a particular part of your home mold free, UV lights might be your best solution.
Germicidal UV lights are used by hospitals and other institutions where allergies and indoor air quality are of utmost importance. Some of these lights are available for homeowners and not only destroy mold, but can inhibit future mold growth.
If you’re having trouble with allergies and indoor air quality, go ahead and contact us at Black Diamond Plumbing & Mechanical. We’ve been serving Chicagoland since 1999.
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