What HVAC Options Are Best for People With Allergies and Asthma?
For most people who live in four-season climates, the advent of budding trees and warmer temperatures is often greeted with joy. But for those with seasonal allergies, the sight of blooming trees and sprouting grass can portend some serious respiratory troubles in the days ahead.
Sometimes, small improvements in the way your furnace or air conditioner function can be enough to significantly reduce airborne allergens. In other cases, an entire system overhaul may be in order.
Read on to learn more about the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that are best for people with allergies and asthma and some steps you can take to improve air quality in your home.
In homes with a central heating and cooling system, air is circulated through internal ducts by a blower motor, then forced out through vents. Even if you regularly dust or clean the vents, these internal ducts can often become a repository for pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and other debris.
Many HVAC systems may also accumulate dust and dirt on the blower fan itself, sending these particles careening through your ducts each time the heater or air conditioner kicks on. Because of this, it can be tough to maintain consistently high air quality in a home with an aging HVAC system.
For homes without central heating and cooling, there are usually fewer concerns about airborne particles circulating through ducts. However, standalone units like window or portable air conditioners can be prone to collecting excess moisture, which may lead to the growth of mold, mildew, and other respiratory aggravators.
Best HVAC Systems for Asthma and Allergy Sufferers
Each type of HVAC system has advantages and disadvantages, so you don’t need to perform a complete overhaul of your house unless your current system is in bad shape. However, some systems (and some cleaning methods) provide less of an opportunity for airborne particles to settle and spread.
Because radiant heating systems rely on the natural upward movement of warm air instead of fans to warm a room, these systems tend to result in fewer blowing particles than some forced-air systems. Some radiant heaters utilize water-filled pipes around the perimeter of a room, while others have warming panels in the ceiling or the floor to provide a steady source of heat.
Geothermal Heat Pump
This energy-efficient heating and cooling source relies on the Earth’s own constant temperature to heat and cool outside air. Geothermal heat pumps involve the placement of several long water-filled pipes just below the frost line.
The heat exchanger extracts heat from this water and forces the heated air through the vents. During summer months, the geothermal heat pump utilizes the cave-like temperatures surrounding the water pipes to generate cold air.
Because a geothermal heat pump utilizes central air conditioning ducts and vents to circulate the air it generates throughout your home, regularly clean your ducts and vents to avoid dust buildup. However, in many cases, a geothermal system will be far more allergy-friendly than a more traditional forced-air heating and cooling system.
Other Ways to Purify the Air in Your Home
In addition to analyzing your HVAC system, you can make a few other changes to improve the air quality throughout your house.
First, if you have a central heating and cooling system, check your home’s air filter.
Many homeowners, especially those who didn’t grow up in homes with central air, may not even be sure where this air filter is located or how often it needs to be cleaned or changed. The filter, usually located inside your furnace or central air unit itself, captures all the dust and debris particles that float down from the vents above.
Once this filter becomes dirty or clogged, it stops doing its job, which can allow pollen and other allergens to circulate freely within your air ducts. Set a reminder to check this filter on a regular basis or replace it even more often than the guidelines recommend to ensure that the air within your ducts is as clean as it can be.
Also, have your ducts cleaned regularly. While this is the type of home maintenance project that can often be put off indefinitely, those with allergies don’t always have that luxury. Scheduling a thorough duct cleaning each spring and fall can remove any pollen or other particles that have somehow escaped your central filter.
For homes that don’t have a central heating and cooling unit, or for homeowners who want to boost the purity of their home’s air, a standalone HEPA filter can also help. This filter relies on charged ions to snatch dust, dirt, and pollen from the air and store it safely in an interior filter.
Regardless of your current HVAC setup or the specific allergies you’re dealing with, an HVAC repair and installation specialist can help you set up or fine-tune a system to meet your unique needs. Contact us for help.