Is Poor Indoor Air Quality Causing Your Allergy Symptoms?
Most of us tend to think of allergies as caused primarily by pollen and pet dander. So why are people still suffering who live and work in the city, where pollen-producing plants and furry critters are in much shorter supply than in the suburbs?
The answer for many is poor indoor air quality.
Even if you’re not familiar with the statistics, seeing the brown haze hanging over the city gives you a clue about the quality of the air you’re breathing outdoors. But this might come as a surprise to you: indoor air quality in New York City is often far worse than the air outside. That’s due to many factors, but one of the biggest contributing factors is poor AC maintenance. It’s true: OSHA lists poor upkeep of HVAC systems as one of the biggest causes of poor indoor air quality.
Think about it: all the air you breathe indoors is filtered through your HVAC system. Those systems are designed to add what’s called return air or makeup air to your space; essentially that means bringing in air from outside. So all those pollutants are coming in, and then staying in. When you neglect AC maintenance, they get trapped in your equipment and ductwork and build up over time. Things get even worse when poor AC maintenance leads to moisture problems. Then you’re adding insult to injury by promoting the growth of dangerous mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses.
Now are you starting to see where your allergy symptoms are coming from? And keep in mind that we’re not just talking about sniffling and sneezing. People experience a wide range of symptoms from poor indoor air quality, including:
- eye irritation
- nausea and dizziness
- skin rashes
- difficulty concentrating
Related article: Could Your New York HVAC System Be Making You Sick?
4 Ways AC Maintenance Can Help Alleviate Symptoms
Investing in a regular preventative maintenance program for your HVAC system gets the grime and pollutants out of your system and the air you’re breathing. Here’s how:
Changing filters (and choosing the right ones)
When was the last time you changed your AC filter? Did you even know you had an AC filter? If you have an air-cooled system, you do! It’s designed to keep dust and grime from clogging up the equipment.
However, if it’s not changed regularly (frequency depends on your system and its usage) eventually it gets full, and then that grime ends up in your equipment, in your ducts and in your indoor air.
With preventative AC maintenance, the filters in your air conditioning system will be either cleaned or changed, depending on the type of filters your system uses.
Here’s another important thing to know: if you suffer from allergies, you can use a special type of filter that filters out more allergens. Read this related post to read more about filters used to combat allergies, and ask your AC maintenance technician to recommend the right filter for your needs: Alleviate Spring Allergies: Air Filters and MERV Filter Ratings
Removing contaminants and standing water
When you suffer from allergies, standing water anywhere in your home is something you want to avoid at all costs. Did you know that your AC system could be producing lingering moisture?
When AC maintenance is neglected, condensate lines and drain pans can become clogged with grime and sediment. That means the moisture that your AC system removes from the air has nowhere to go. The problem starts with water accumulating in the pan, and eventually leaking out to cause water damage. All that accumulating water is a breeding ground for mold, mildew and bacteria, which builds up on your equipment, and eventually makes its way into the ducts. Before you have any idea what’s going on, you’re breathing in a lot of nasty stuff. The result? Allergy symptoms, not to mention the potential for system breakdowns.
AC maintenance prevents the problems caused by standing water by clearing your drain lines and pan of all the sediment that causes clogs and water buildup.
Unfortunately, sediment clogs are not the only cause of water buildup and mold growth. When your AC system is not doing a good job of removing humidity from the air, you can end up with mold growth all around your space: hiding in damp spots where you’ll never know it’s there.
AC maintenance is the best way to prevent excess humidity that can lead to mold and mildew. When your AC equipment is regularly inspected, issues like humidity control can be discovered and fixed before you experience damage. In many cases, a system tune up or replacing worn parts can take care of the humidity issues that cause allergy symptoms.
Related article: HVAC System Maintenance, Humidity and Your Poor Indoor Air Quality
Cleaning your ducts
Technically, duct cleaning is not normally done as part of preventative AC maintenance, but regular inspections can uncover problems with dusty or moldy ducts that are causing allergy symptoms.
Especially when AC maintenance has been neglected for a while, it’s not uncommon for all the dust, grime, debris and even mold from your system to accumulate in your air ducts. That’s bad news for your indoor air quality. If you see dust coming out of your AC registers, or you’re noticing unpleasant mildew odors on a regular basis, it may be time to look into cleaning your ducts. Your AC maintenance technician can help with that, too.
Poor AC Maintenance Costs Beyond Your Health
It’s important to realize that investing in AC maintenance actually saves you money as well as improving your comfort and improving your allergy symptoms. AC maintenance is proven to reduce repair expenses, make your equipment last longer, and even cut your electric bills. Find out more from these free resources: