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HVAC Maintenance Tips to Keep Home Allergens at Bay

Many people suffer from indoor allergies. And when common culprits like dust, dander, mold, bacteria, and other particulates foul up the air in your home, you’ll know it thanks to the coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and other symptoms that accompany indoor air pollution. Of course, you have a fair measure of control over your indoor air quality. For example, you can remove known allergens by sending smokers outside, washing and grooming pets regularly (or foregoing pets altogether if your allergies to pet dander are severe), removing plush surfaces that can trap and release allergens, and cleaning frequently to avoid buildup of particulates. But all of these steps pale in comparison to proper HVAC maintenance.

It doesn’t matter how clean you keep your home; if you fail to properly maintain your HVAC system, you could end up with allergens getting pumped into your living spaces every time you fire up the furnace or run the AC. But what can you do to maintain your system in such a way that you’re able to keep allergens at bay? Actually, there are several steps you might want to take on this score. You can start simply enough by replacing the air filters as needed. If you hire a professional HVAC technician to service your furnace and/or AC unit annually (and you absolutely should), you’ll have your filters replaced once a year. But depending on your environment, usage, and other factors, you may need to replace the filters more frequently.

You should ask your HVAC technician to show you the ropes. He/she can give you the information to purchase additional filters, show you how and where to install them, and advise you on how often to do so. Your technician may even be able to recommend allergy-reducing filter options, such as HEPA filters or even a whole-home air purification system that hooks up to your existing HVAC. Of course, the more important aspect of scheduling an HVAC technician to make annual house calls is to clean and inspect your system, clearing away any dust, dirt, debris, and other particulates that have accumulated over the course of a year.

Even if you stick to a regular schedule of professional maintenance, though, you might be neglecting certain aspects of your HVAC system. While technicians inspect, clean, and repair your furnace and AC unit as a matter of course, they might not pay much attention to the ductwork, where dust, mold, and other allergens can collect until you adjust the thermostat and they get blown into your living spaces. In this case you might want to spring for an air duct inspection and cleaning, especially if you’ve had problems in the past. It’s not a service most homeowners need annually, but you should have it done every few years.

People often forget the “V” in HVAC (it stands for ventilation). So make sure to address your vents and ducts if you’re having issues with indoor allergens. Before you start looking for reasons you may need to replace your air conditioner or furnace, make sure your problem doesn’t lie with the ductwork.

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